Upcoming start dates: March 6th and April 10th
Space is limited - sign up now at politepuppy@friendshiphospital.com

Congratulations on your new puppy! I wish you the very best for a long and healthy life together. At Friendship Hospital for Animals, we are committed to providing you the most up-to-date, inclusive care for the life of your dog. To help get you started on the right paw, we offer two exciting puppy programs at Friendship.

If you are interested in comprehensive training and wellness care recommendations, I would love for you to enroll in the Polite Puppy Class. This six-week long class is open to puppies ages 8-20 weeks, and will help you sort through the important life-long habits necessary to ensure that you are raising a well-behaved, happy, and healthy dog.

The class is held at the hospital, so that your puppy will develop a strong positive association with hospital visits; making all future trips an enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Socialization and behavior modification

The basic principle behind the behavior modification techniques is to constantly and consistently reward your dog for appropriate behavior while ignoring the undesirable behavior. Ignoring undesirable behavior does not mean looking the other way while your dog chews up the couch. Instead, when this behavior occurs, you give your dog an appropriate toy to play with and praise him when he uses it. Screaming at your dog and punishing him is neither productive nor humane, and can negatively affect your relationship.

Traditional dog training revolves around what known as dominance theory. According to this school of thought, you must establish yourself as the “alpha dog” while keeping your dog in a submissive role. A central theme of this training technique is that dogs that misbehave are trying to obtain dominance over their owners or other pets in the house and must be put in their place, often times using force.

People who believe in dominance theory will tell you that it is based on studies of wolf behavior in the wild. What they may not be aware of is that these studies were conducted back in the 1960’s and have since been proven inaccurate. In just the past decade we have learned that wolves DO NOT fight to become the alpha dog of the pack; rather, their “packs” are families consisting of a mating pair heading up a group of their offspring.

Here’s the main problem I see with dominance theory: maintaining your alpha-dog status requires that you routinely behave in a threatening manner – often using physical force--to those submissive to you. And so you must ask yourself: Is that the kind of relationship you really want to create? It’s certainly not one I want to share with my dogs.

Another important aspect of behavior modification is teaching your dog to defer to you, so that he learns he must sit quietly for something he wants. This is not “dominating” your dog, but rather teaching your dog to look to you when he needs something, be it attention, food or how to act when someone enters the house.

In this class we discussed the three central commands associated with behavior modification: sit, stay and look at me. Remember, the basic rule of behavior modification is: your dog must sit quietly to earn anything and everything he wants--for the rest of his life. (If you are thinking that sounds difficult to execute, let me tell you it absolutely is!) 

In addition, I strongly encourage you to take your puppy to an obedience or puppy kindergarten class.  Apart from learning more commands your puppy will get to play with other vaccinated puppies in a controlled environment which is essential to their development.  It will also expose your puppy to other people which is important in creating a well adjusted dog.  You want to be sure that the place you choose employs the positive reinforcement method of training.  I took my puppy to Woofs in Arlington and had a very good experience there.

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