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Puppy Kindergarten - Week 5
Continue to work on housebreaking. Your puppy may be ready for a controlled (i.e. on leash) introduction to new areas of the house.
Continue to work on providing a dog-proofed environment with lots of good chewing choices available and rewarded.
Remember to give your puppy adequate company and exercise.
This week, work on having your puppy tolerate and even enjoy having his body handled. Be generous with food treats and praise. If the puppy struggles, remove the reward, then give the puppy some easy-to-tolerate handling, and praise, click and treat. Work in short sessions at first.
If you have a breed that will require extensive brushing, most owners and puppies find it easiest to work on an elevated surface like a grooming table, with the puppy lying flat on his side.
Do condition the puppy to accept restraint in this position before attempting any grooming. Work in small steps, having him lie quietly for just a few seconds at first. Click and treat for success. If your puppy seems panicky, or growls or snaps, please talk to your instructor before proceeding . (Note: The "Alpha Roll"- pinning the puppy on his back while you hold his throat - is abuse, not training. Please don't confuse that 'attack' with this husbandry training that encourages the puppy to be tolerant of restraint.)
Also condition the puppy to accept the "between your knees" position we practiced in class.
Remember that when your puppy goes to the groomer or the vet, especially for his first few visits, these are training opportunities! Rather than letting the staff take the puppy into the back, schedule so that you can be in the room with him, ready to click and treat as he gets his nail trimmed, gets introduced to the blow-dryer, etc.
Neutering & Spaying
There are a number of factors to consider in the decision to have your puppy neutered or spayed.
Most commonly owners may think of pet overpopulation as a reason to behave responsibly in this way. Certainly the millions of dogs killed yearly in the United States are a powerful argument for considering any breeding very, very carefully indeed.
Only dogs who can really be a benefit to their breed should be allowed to reproduce. These dogs are healthy: Health checked free of inheritable problems like PRA, cardiomyopathy, hip and elbow dysplasia, deafness, etc., and are also temperamentally sound, and physically excellent examples of their breed. Ideally the dog will have demonstrated his excellence by completing his Championship in the Conformation ring, and perhaps by completing obedience and/or working titles as well.
Additionally, these excellent dogs should come from equally excellent parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, and should be bred to excellent dogs from excellent backgrounds. Generally, it will require years of experience in a breed before a dog owner knows enough about the breed and its problems to be able to formulate and act on a plan for the breed's future by producing a litter. The breeder, in addition to expertise and tremendous patience, should also have time, space and money. People who do a conscientious job of breeding almost always lose money on their dogs.
If the thought of the responsibility, money, physical labor and possible heartbreak involved in producing a litter put you off, and you decide not to breed your dog, CONGRATULATIONS! You will have performed a valuable service for animal welfare.
What about not breeding, but not neutering or spaying? This is a slightly more complicated questions:
There seem to be clear benefits to spaying, for most females: Female dogs usually come into heat twice a year for about 3 weeks each time. This is messy and inconvenient for dog and owner. Female dogs may try to escape, and male dogs may try to break in, and get into fights with their rival males. More importantly, unspayed females have a dramatically higher incidence of mammary cancer than spayed females. They are also subject to pyometra, and uterine and ovarian cancer, all of which may be fatal.
The picture is less clear for males: Some unneutered male dogs may display nuisance problems such as escaping, house soiling, aggression towards people, dog fighting (or being the innocent victim of other male's attacks), crotch sniffing, mounting, and general frustration and distractibility. If so, (assuming that these issues seem to be connected to testosterone, and not just training or management) then do discuss neutering with your veterinarian.Neutering does decrease the incidence of benign prostatic hyperplasia, and perianal adenomas.
On the negative side, neutering male dogs
For the responsible owner, perhaps the best choice is to discuss neutering or spaying your dog with your veterinarian, considering your life style and goals for the puppy, and the puppy's health and well being. Together you can decide whether and when to proceed.
Questions? Send Penny an email penny @ whatagoodpuppy.com (remove the spaces)