From the seventh to twelfth weeks, the puppy should be expanding its horizons and absorbing all that it can. it should have a real name and respond to it and to its owner with dedication and interest. Training during this period should not last for longer than half an hour. Plenty of praise should be given when the puppy responds well. At this age, the puppy has its best attitude toward direction and will respond to what it is told. It is a time when the dog-human relationship will grow.
From twelve to sixteen weeks the puppy starts to declare its independence and the owner and dog establish who is boss. This period is when physical and social development run parallel. It is also the time when puppies cut their second teeth, and can be thought of as teenagers. Their mouths bother them and their attention span is short. Puppies should still be treated kindly at this time. After sixteen weeks the learning process that has already been established should continue. If the original foundations of training are not well founded, it will be difficult to train the dog to accomplish more. It is important to remember that the first sixteen weeks of a puppy's life is when its socialization between humans and other dogs takes place. Time and effort spent during this time are well worth the trouble. A puppy brought on in the best way possible will ensure that the next twelve or so years are both pleasant and productive for both the owner and dog.
GROOMING POTENTIAL SHOW DOGS
Any puppy that is considered a show prospect should spend time on the grooming table in order to have its teeth checked, ears cleaned and toe nails clipped. Short-coated breeds should be groomed with a damp towel and given a good brush with a mitt fitted with bristles, called a hound glove. Dogs with long coats that must be trimmed or plucked, or washed and brushed dry under a dryer, should have all this attended to on a grooming table. Occasionally, ears need some attention after cropping and terrier ears may need to be set. This is another job for the grooming table.
None of the tasks at the grooming table should be a chore for the owner or dog. The dog should enjoy the attention. The owner should learn how to prepare a dog for the show ring. An experienced person who has knowledge of showing the breed will be invaluable in helping the novice to groom a dog so that the process is easy and pleasant. Essentially, the making of a show dog involves teaching it how to walk on a leash, pose on both a table and the ground and rise to the occasion. If the breeder bonds strongly with a young hopeful it will try hard to please. The more that both owner and dog learn and share, the more fulfilling the dog-human relationship becomes.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF PUPPIES
As the pup grows older, many changes occur. Size and strength increase and sexual maturity begins. A bitch pup may come into her first season any time after she reaches eight months and the consensus of opinion among vets is that she should be spayed before this season starts. Spaying is probably the greatest safeguard against cancer of the mammary glands at a later age. The operation involved is also safer and simpler at this stage than after a season or two.
A bitch's body matures and develops more rapidly than that of a male dog, and early spaying will probably not affect its growth. In the United States, a bitch kept for show may not be spayed and care must be taken to observe and record its first season. in contrast, a dog often does not become sexually mature or become "bodied up" until it is two or more years old. It may be sexually active from around six months on and may be used at stud after the age of eight or nine months. A dog of this age is too young for proper results in tests that should take place before breeding. If a dog is not to stand at stud, it should be neutered before it has any contact with a bitch in season. If it has a retained testicle, this should be removed to prevent any possible cancer later in life. Toy breeds reach physical maturity much earlier than larger breeds.
To he a good citizen and an ideal companion, a minimal amount of training is required. Dogs enjoy a sense of purpose. just like people, they thrive on praise and they are happiest when they are being useful. This is only natural since it was the dog's usefulness that originally made him man's companion.
The basic lessons a dog should learn are to "heel" while walking on a leash, sit, stay, come and lie down. Many clubs and organizations will help new owners to train a dog. Dog- training clubs frequently advertise in local newspapers when classes are held. If the new owner wants to do the training without outside help, there are many self-help books that can assist. The vet may also be able to help by recommending classes or by advising the owner on a dog's progress and making suggestions if behavior problems develop. Unruly puppies are a nuisance, just like unruly children. Training sessions for puppies should be very short, maybe five minutes at a time, and training should not be at the same time and place as play time. Puppies will learn the difference very quickly.
Anne Rogers Clark believes, and scientific studies have proven, that dogs have a definite adolescence. This varies by breed and sex of dog; females generally show adolescent behavior a few months before males. A change in attitude can be detected and dogs need special attention at this time. If there is a tendency toward either shyness or aggression it will appear most strongly during adolescence, and this is the time to deal with it through training.
LIVING WITH OTHERS
Being a good citizen applies not only to a dog. An owner who picks up the dog (size and strength permitting), or instructs it to sit when strangers approach during a walk, is being a considerate neighbor.
People own dogs for all sorts of reasons. But whatever the underlying factor, the bond between a dog and its human owner makes people more of what they are. In an understand- ing relationship people rise to a higher level of responsibility, communication and compassion. They become more aware of and more in harmony with nature. A native American saying is, "God had a friend and it was a dog."