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Puppy V Older Dogs

Mon, 01/11/2010 - 10:26am

Puppies need to play! Dogs from 7 weeks to 2 years old demand a lot of playtime. Since dogs are pack animals, they are not going to want to play alone. Getting a puppy means committing time to playing with your dog every day. If you do not play with your dog, they will find ways to get your attention that you may not like.

Puppies will challenge your authority! Dogs from 6 months to 2 years will challenge their family members on a frequent basis in a "test of wills". This is a very normal adolescent process whereby they determine their social rank within their "pack". All members of the family must be committed to training and to firm rules especially during this period. Dogs that are given no discipline during this period often become very unmanageable.

Puppies like to chew! Dogs from 3 months to 1 year of age go through a "mouthing" stage in which they will want to put everything into their mouths -- including your hands. Dogs actually loose their baby teeth and will grow adult teeth like humans do. It is critical that owners teach puppies what is appropriate to chew on and what is not. The use of a crate when the owner is not around to watch the puppy not only speeds up this teaching process, but can save the puppy from hurting or even killing itself. When the dog reaches adulthood, the crate can be weaned away, but when dogs are puppies, you must consider the crate to be as a playpen is for a toddler.

Puppies do not come with manners! Owners of dogs from 6 months to 2 years need to spend several days a week training and socializing the dog in order to prevent bad habits. Dogs of this age need repetitive training and need to be deliberately put into distracting situations in order to learn. Putting in a lot of training effort during this period of a dog's life pays great rewards after the dog reaches maturity. Dog breeds like the Border Collie, that have gained the reputation of being "smart" DO NOT JUST COME THAT WAY ! As much as any other dog, "smart" dogs need training.  If you don't train them, they will use their intelligence in ways you may not like.

Older dogs are a lot less work! Usually, dogs over two years old are much calmer unless they have been poorly socialized or have developed behavioral problems.    Many second-hand older dogs have actually been abandoned for reasons other than bad behavior (i.e. someone in the household developed allergies, the family moved, or the family situation changed). Usually, these dogs are very easy to care for and are grateful for a second chance as a devoted pet. There is no truth to the saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  In fact, older dogs may be even easier to teach because they are so much more calm.