Life Unleashed: 8 tips for surviving 'puppyhood'

| Friday, April 11, 2014, 12:21 p.m.

Getting through the developmental stages of puppyhood can be quite the challenge, but eight tips can help.

1. Patience is a virtue. Imagine a montage of muddy paw prints on the finest of upholstery, gnawing and chewing everything in sight; stealing food off of the counter, eating out of the trash, regurgitating the trash and on and on.

Is your Google search history an embarrassing display of “Help! My dog ate _____” inquiries? It happens to the best of us. The curious puppy mantra: If it smells, sniff it. If it tastes good, eat it. If it tastes bad, still eat it. This behavior should pass.

2. Canned pumpkin is great for upset tummies. No matter how closely you watch your pup, it is easy for them to gulp down something a little questionable, and a little of this orange squash can help.

3. Do not Google. Answers can be misleading. Contact a reputable veterinarian for instruction. In most cases, they will just give you directions to monitor the pup and reassure you that everything will be fine.

4. Avoid punishment. Incessantly scolding the pup will get you nothing but a frantic, insecure dog. He is going to make mistakes. How you prepare for that will determine his capacity for learning.

5. Bring your “A” game. The first year is full of growth spurts, hormone surges and emotions as your pup matures. Educating yourself about these stages will help you to understand what he is going through and how to be two steps ahead.

6. Don't just say “no.” There is little utility in telling a puppy no; you will say it so much that you will become white noise to your pup and he will quickly learn that your input is not useful to him. Redirect your pup instead to something you would like him to do. A positive reinforcement approach inspires learning and builds confidence.

7. Be consistent. This is the single biggest issue that people encounter when training their pets.

Don't worry. Your puppy is not bad, or aggressive. He is learning. If you are proactive, you can facilitate this process with proper training from a reputable professional.

8. Leadership begins with successful leash training. Fulfilling your dog's requirement for activity, mental stimulation and camaraderie means more to him than treats.

No bond is more powerful than that of a dog and his master, who share in the discipline of a structured, routine walk.

Andrea J. Lamping trains dogs in the greater airport area, including Sewickley, Moon, Robinson and Hopewell. She can be reached at 724-984-7829 or visit her website at

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