The way to the ideal family member

The decision has been made: In the future, a dog should belong to the family, and together two-and four-legged friends should share an active and relaxed life together. In order for this ideal conception to become reality, there is a lot to consider in the search for the new family member. Apart from various animal welfare organizations that look after countless perfectly family-friendly pets and convey them to a loving home, the only responsible path to a puppy is through a dedicated and expert breeder, who enables the descendants of his breed to make an optimal start in life. Since Champion titles of parent animals are never a guarantee for a healthy and stable puppy, the focus in selecting the breeder should be less on the number of cups in the throwing room than on the health aspects of the parent and the livestock breeding conditions in an environment full of diverse environmental stimuli lie. In a lecture hall filled to the last seat, the Swiss veterinarian and behavioral scientist Prof. Urs A. Lüscher recorded in a lecture at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna the most important stages of puppy development from litter mate to family member and showed that the socialization work of the breeder also after the Acquisition of the puppy into the new family must be continued unabated.

Development is dependent on the environment

The development of a living being is nothing other than the response of the organism and its genetic dispositions to the immediate environment. Thus, the environment is of fundamental importance, so that the newborn puppy becomes a balanced, physically and mentally healthy family companion. Lüscher not only recognizes the foundation of an indispensable optimal environment, but also the decisive argument against “cloning”. Even two genetically identical creatures will develop differently under different environmental conditions and never grow into comparable individuals.

The development phases of the puppy after Urs A. Lüscher

The first weeks with the breeder

A low-stimulus environment during its early stages of development can lead to an abnormal sensory system in the growing puppy, unbalance his emotional responses, and result in limited learning in later life. Already immediately after the birth and in the first days of life, MILDE acute stress situations – including, for example, picking up the puppy, early petting or short-term exposure to a cooler temperature – can positively influence the development of the puppy and its physiological responses to acute or noticeably optimize chronic stress later in life.

The development of the nervous system, which takes a few weeks in a newborn puppy, also depends in the further stages of development in particular on the diversity of the environment as well as on the possibilities of getting used to different circumstances. The important and irretrievable phase of socialization extends from the third week of life until the end of the third month and is again divided by Lüscher into a phase of primary and secondary socialization. The primary socialization to other dogs takes about three to five weeks: In the game with the littermates and parents, the puppy not only develops a biting and aggression inhibition, but also learns to read and interpret the body language of his fellow species. The formation of a hierarchy during this phase is still controversial in science and is likely to be racially dependent. These learning processes alone justify the legally enshrined ban on separating a puppy from mother and siblings at the age of six weeks.

The optimal time of delivery

Lüscher judges even the usual time of the transfer to the new owner with eight weeks still as very early. If the puppy does not move into his new family until around ten weeks, this has demonstrable benefits for the puppy’s health and emotional stability, especially since at this stage, mother’s learning is extremely intense, just by observing but works only with the mother and can not be replaced by other possibly living in the new household adult dogs! At the same time, at the age of six to twelve weeks, the secondary socialization takes place, which in particular affects the subsequent behavior of the puppy to humans, other pets and children. In this phase, the puppy must be able to collect their own social experience and requires quite a degree of freedom. In order to familiarize the puppy with objects, situations and above all noises of all kinds during this time, the sound recordings of different environmental noises (traffic noise, train station, etc.) that are repeatedly used in many litter rooms can not replace real situations. Only the connection of the sounds with the associated objects guarantees a really efficient learning. The socialization phase ends irrevocably with 14 weeks, but nevertheless the work started with the breeder must be continued by the new owner also during the youth phase, because also first well-socialized dogs can shy lacking further experiences in certain situations shyly. However, such later developments are mostly reversible.

Anxiety phase as a sensitive period of life

With the eighth week of life begins with the so-called anxiety phase one of the most sensitive periods in the course of a dog’s life, weeks, which also mostly include the transition to the new families. Numerous experiments have shown that traumatic experiences during this time are irreversible, and the puppy will be afraid later in similar situations. So, especially during this sensitive phase, there should be no punishment! However, the puppy needs to be able to gain his own experience in a safe environment – always well controlled to immediately combine any negative events with something pleasant, such as food.

Food can not increase anxiety!

Other periods of anxiety in the subsequent development are described again and again: “In adolescence, dogs can go through additional periods of anxiety, each lasting about three weeks, during which a dog is easily frightened and memorizes unpleasant experiences particularly well. These additional periods of anxiety are not scientifically documented. On the other hand, many breeders have experienced that young dogs go through phases during which they are even afraid of familiar things. One dog, who saw trash cans on the street twice a week, may one day suddenly be afraid of them, raise their hair, bark at them, and not dare to go near them. This behavior should not be a major concern for owners, as it usually goes by itself, “explains Lüscher, who recommends immediate counterconditioning with feed. “Anxiety can never be compounded with a treat,” the behavioral scientist contradicts well-known arguments of traditional dog training and repeatedly emphasizes the need for a predictable and predictable environment for the puppy that lives a dog’s life long: “It’s also important that the environment is predictable from the young’s point of view, and consequences of its behavior are predictable. Otherwise, the animal is not only stressed, but soon learns that his behavior has no impact on the events in the environment. Such animals are in a state of learned helplessness, and it is often very difficult to teach them something new. ”

Practical tips

In addition to these behavioral biology aspects, the Swiss scientist also gives new puppy owners many useful practical tips.

To circumvent the well-known problem of puppies with a preference for table legs, chairs, electric cables and other objects, the careful use of Bitter Apple Spray is the method of choice. Filled food toys are also available as quickly accepted alternatives.

* The first night in the new home, the puppy can logically not spend alone or in the box, to which he must first be used. If the puppy is not desired in the owner’s bed, an open-topped box next to the bed will serve well. A calming caressing hand can reach the puppy anytime. If the puppy is left unattended, its freedom of movement must be limited! This is used in particular for accident prevention.

* To achieve rapid housebreaking, the puppy must immediately after every sleep, eat and play the opportunity to drop off at a suitable and desired place urine. In addition, an exact observation by the owner is required to prevent small .Unfallen ?? g in between and to bring the puppy as soon as possible to the outside.

* In the coexistence of children and puppies clear rules must be set: where is who is allowed? What is allowed? The puppy must have a retreat that is taboo for children. • No matter how big your own property is, the daily walk away from home is an existential part of Dog Day that satisfies the dog’s genetically-based natural exploration drive, helping to prevent numerous stress-related problems and supporting and continuing the socialization process.

* Learning through reward works optimally during the socialization phase! This finding disproves the earlier opinion that training the dog only at the age of six months to begin. ??

* Fixed rules, consistent reactions and routine make the new environment predictable for the puppy and thus provide security!

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