This will be my last blog for Purely Puppy. I am moving on from here to a guest spot every other Friday on Fully Vetted. My draw to this blog was to spread the good word of behavioral medicine. To stand at the pulpit each week and preach that you don’t have to dominate your dog to get him to respect and obey you; that behavioral medicine is just that — medicine; and that science should dictate what you do with your pup and when.

The move to the Friday guest spot will allow me to expand what I can talk about to all animals — from worms to wolves. If they can be kept as pets, I can feel free to talk about their behavior. I am excited to write about other species, as well as dogs at different levels of development outside of puppyhood. Don’t bunny and cat owners have the right to know what their pet is thinking, too?

Before I go, I want to leave you with some pearls.

  1. You get more flies with honey than vinegar. Use positive reinforcement techniques to teach your pup.
  2. Give your dog boundaries. From the beginning, let your dog know what is expected and what his limitations are. The more structure the better.
  3. Keep him busy. Get to as many classes as you can so that your dog stays stimulated and you are motivated to keep working with him.
  4. Get help when you need it. Find a board certified veterinary behaviorist at www.dacvb.org.
  5. It’s probably not dominance. Often dominance is applied incorrectly to commonly seen attention seeking behaviors such as pawing, leaning, and jumping. No, the dog is not dominant. Often the dog is simply attempting to find out how to get reinforced in his environment.
  6. Ignore the problem. Many behavior problems that are ignored will be extinguished.
  7. Give the gift of independence. Teach your dog to stay by himself so that he doesn’t get upset when you leave.
  8. Find the positive opposite (from The Kazdin Method). Try to find the positive opposite of the problem behavior and then teach that behavior.
  9. Aggression causes aggression. Do I really have to explain this one?
  10. Start them young! Socialization is essential. Dogs who are well socialized are better adjusted to their environment and are less likely to have behavior problems relating to fear as they develop.
  11. Adopt with your head. Before you adopt a puppy, consider the breed, your needs and the needs of the pup, and the different places to adopt. Your relationship with your dog will last longer than your marriage in many cases. Choose with your head.

See you next Friday!

Dr. Lisa Radosta

Image: Eric Isselee / via Shutterstock