Proper Puppy Socializing: The First 18 Months

Proper Puppy Socializing: The First 18 Months

Getting a puppy is one of the most exciting things. There is nothing like the day you pick out that bundle of fur and bring it home. But that day also marks the beginning of work. Because we all know puppies are work. Not just the feeding, house training, and puppy-proofing the house and yard. One of the most important things is making sure you socialize your puppy properly.

Why is this so important?

A dog’s temperament comes from two places – genetics and experiences, both nature AND nurture. So no matter how even tempered his parents and grandparents were, you still need to make sure he goes out and experiences the world while he is young. BUT! Those experiences need to be POSITIVE in order for your dog to feel comfortable in the world he is expected to live in for the rest of this life.

START IMMEDIATELY

This is the big thing.

A puppy’s main socialization period is from birth to twelve weeks, so it is imperative they get out and experience new people, places, and things.

Many do not worry about exposing their puppy to things before they have had their first shots. And, while it’s true your puppy shouldn’t go to a dog park or visit nose to nose with strange dogs before they are fully vaccinated, there are many things you can do to socialize them that will not expose them to viruses.

You probably noticed that most of a puppy’s main socialization period was spent with its littermates. This is why it’s important to choose a breeder that understands the need to give puppy’s stimulation. Visits with people, objects in their environment to climb over and explore, etc. The better your breeder does at this, the easier job you will have.

But now it’s your turn. Here is s checklist of things you should expose your puppy to from the time you get him to 12 weeks. REMEMBER!! Experiences should be positive! For most puppies, it’s a good idea to keep the exposure short at first. This lessens the chance that something will go wrong (i.e. something scares the puppy) or the puppy gets tired of whatever it is you are exposing him (also a negative). For some things, just a few seconds it all that’s needed. Then, do it again tomorrow.

IF your puppy shows signs of fear or crabbiness (like “I am tired, I don’t want to do this anymore). Do not push them. That will make it worse. Better to try again tomorrow or after your puppy has had a break (nap, playtime, mealtime, etc).

People. Make sure to exposure your puppy to different “types” of people: men, women, children, people wearing hats, sunglasses, in wheelchairs, with canes, etc. Give people toys to interact with your puppy in a positive way. Watch children closely as often their loud voices, sudden and sometimes harsh movements and running can frighten a puppy, especially a small breed.

Surfaces. Ever met a dog that’s scared to walk on smooth surfaces? Make sure your dog isn’t one of them. This can be done in your house! Look for things he can walk on that are made of concrete, carpet, tile, stone, etc. textured paint on wood boards make excellent tactile objects for your puppy to explore. Reward your puppy for going over new surfaces with praise and play.

Sounds. This is a HUGE one. Start getting your puppy used to sounds. Play recordings of fireworks, thunder, trucks, crowds, babies crying. Turn on action movies or the radio too. Do not start the noise loud, start softly and turn up the volume as your dog is comfortable. Again, do something positive while the sound is on, so your dog is classically conditioned to pair the noise with something good, instead of being scared.

Animals. Even though your pup does not have all its shots, it can still look at other animals. Carry him around the park or past your neighbor’s dogs etc. If you have friends or family members with healthy dogs and your vet is fine with it, let them meet those dogs one on one. Neighborhood cats walk by the window? Praise your puppy for being calm and not wanting to bark or chase.

Objects. Things with wheels (bikes, skateboards), vacuum, brooms, etc. Anything your puppy is going to come in contact with should be introduced as soon as possible. Umbrellas are a big one as we often don’t think about them when we get a summer puppy but by winter they are older and may be fearful when we bring it out.

Twelve Weeks to Eighteen Months

Now, your puppy is fully vaccinated and the real work can begin. If you’ve done the above exposures, your puppy is going to be much better prepared for the next phase in his training than a puppy who stayed locked away in a puppy pen for a month.

FEAR PERIODS

The most important thing about this timeframe is that your puppy will go through two fear periods. It is impossible to say when exactly, unfortunately. During these times, all of a sudden your puppy will be scared of things that he used to be fine with. It could be anything from the vacuum to people to dogs. These windows are where the most damage can happen.

One bad experience during a puppy’s fear period can leave a lasting impression for life on your puppy.

It is during these times that often a puppy will become reactive (lunging/barking at people and dogs) or scared of noises, children, bikes, if they have a bad experience. So pay attention to your puppy and when you start noticing they are becoming shy or fearful, take extra care that they have positive only experiences until they become confident again. How bad the “fear period” is varies greatly from dog to dog.

Places. Now that your puppy can walk around without worry of illness, let him walk! Especially little dogs, humans have a habit of carrying them everywhere. This does not allow them to explore their environment. Take them everywhere you can: pet stores, restaurants, store, park, beach, groomers, vet, etc. For the last two, take them when they are not actually going for an appointment. Instead, just go for a visit so they learn to like, not fear, those facilities.

Animals. Now it’s time for your puppy to get some real socializing. Let them greet dogs and other animals IF AND ONLY IF you are positive they will be friendly! This goes for both sides. If you think your puppy is not going to be friendly, but is scared or aggressive, it’s better to forgo this socialization than to have them practice bad behavior. At the same time, you do not want your puppy attacked and frightened by another animal. All it can take is one attack for your puppy to fear other dogs for life. It is best to NOT do this on leash. Dogs tend to feel more threatened on leashes because they cannot get away and they are tethered to a human and unable to present full canine body language.

Training. You can start training your puppy right when you get him at 8 weeks in your home. But now it’s time to take him to training classes. Not only will he get training, but its great socialization – you are in a new place with other dogs, people and noises.

Remember, make sure every experience is a positive one.

It feels like a full time job, but take care to socialize your puppy properly those first two years, and you will both live happier the rest of your life together.

The Benefits of Green Tea for Dogs

The Benefits of Green Tea for Dogs

If you have looked over the Stay Loyal ingredients (and we hope you have!), you may have noticed “green tea” is one of them. Did this surprise you? You may have thought that tea would not be good for dogs. Or maybe you just never really thought of it as a “dog food” and therefore were just surprised for that reason.

Well, we don’t put anything in our dog food without reason.

Food Benefits of Green Tea

Green Tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, alkaloids, vitamins A, D, E, C, B, B5, H and K, manganese and other beneficial minerals such as zinc, chromium and selenium!

Antioxidants, as you may well know, are what helps prevent and fight cancer. Green tea has been associated with inhibiting certain types of tumors including cancers of stomach, gall bladder, prostate, uterus, lung, intestine, colon, rectum and pancreas.

It also lowers blood cholesterol and inhibits breast cancer. And of course, it can help with digestive upsets. Green tea is absorbed into all body tissues, but it concentrates in the liver and digestive tract, which explains why most of the parts of the dog that benefit are in that area of the body.

Feeding Green Tea

Some veterinarians recommend green tea supplements for dogs that have cancer or need additional antioxidants. If you are interested in green tea supplements, ask your veterinarian about them to find out if they are right for your pet. You do not need a prescription for them, but it’s always good to get a vet opinion.

Like all teas, green tea accumulates heavy metals, fluorides and other toxins from the soil and water it is grown in. So, it’s best to know where the green tea is coming from that you are giving your dog. If you are buying tea bags, look for organic products. Also look for naturally decaffeinated varieties for your dog. If you are buying a food or treat with green tea in it, make sure the company sources responsibly.

Topical Benefits of Green Tea

Of course, green tea can also be used topically on your dog. Steep a cup of green tea and then let it cool. Use this to clean your pet’s ears. You can also put a cold tea bag on hot spots and mouth sores to soothe them. You can even add green tea your dog’s shampoo if he has especially dry or itchy skin.

Now you see why we have added green tea or our Stay Loyal dog food. When ingested, it’s a powerhouse of anti-cancer agents that help your dog stay heathy. For a closer look at our ingredients, read here.

What is Meat Meal and Should I Avoid it in My Dog’s Food?

What is Meat Meal and Should I Avoid it in My Dog’s Food?

If you read any of our other blog posts, you probably know we want every dog owner to really read and understand the ingredients in their dog’s food. Better ingredients can mean a healthier dog and that means less vet bills for you. It may even contribute to a longer life span, which is what we all want of course. For decades, dog food labels have been written in tricky ways to try and fool the consumer into thinking the food was better than it was. While it has gotten better, marketing and information from outside sources can still sometimes leave you wondering if certain ingredients are good or not.

One ingredient you may questions is “meal.” Many dog owners are unsure of what “meal” is and whether it’s something their dog should be eating.

MEAT MEAL: Defined

Let’s start by defining the generic term “meat meal.” Meal is a dry rendered product from a combination of clean meat (flesh, skin, bone). Contrary to popular belief, it does not include feather/fur, beaks, or entrails.

To become a dry meal, the meat is ground up and then cooked. They call this rendering, and for some reason that word makes people think it’s a bad thing. As it cooks, the water and fat separate. Then, they separate out the water, creating a concentrated protein product.

The finished product is actually more nutritious than fresh chicken. Check out the facts:

* Chicken meal has 65% protein vs. only 18% in fresh chicken!

* Chicken meal is only 10% water, fresh chicken is 70%!

* Chicken meal has 12% fat, while fresh chicken only has 5%!

In addition, the cooking process also kills bacteria, viruses, parasite and other organisms that could harm your dog.

SO WHY DO SOME SAY MEAT MEAL SHOULD BE AVOIDED IN PET FOOD?

The answer is: If it specifically says, “MEAT meal” on the ingredients list, it should be. This is because it does not specify the type of protein source (cow, chicken, turkey, deer, etc.). This can be dangerous if your dog has allergies. It can also be an indication that the company is buying whatever is cheapest on the market at that time, instead of using quality ingredients. That’s the trick: meal is a wonderful source of protein as long as the source ingredients are specified and high-quality to begin with.

We use specific meals in our Stay Loyal formulas to give your dog a safe, concentrated protein product. On our ingredient labels you will see “chicken meal, lamb meal, turkey meal, pork meal and salmon meal.” You will never see just “meat meal.”

Also, as I mentioned, where the meat comes from is important. If they start out with low quality chicken (say hens from an egg production company that have reached the end of their use for laying), the meal will not be very nutritious. It will have more bone than meat, and so will have less protein.

Stay Loyal meats are sourced locally, from within Australia and are high quality, giving our foods the high protein ratios your dog needs to stay healthy.

So next time you see “meal” on an ingredient list. Look for the word “meat” in front of it and then, see if the company tells you where they source their meat. If they aren’t straight forward about it, it may be because it’s low quality. And remember, specific protein meals from high-quality meat sources is actually more nutritious than whole meats. So guess what that means? You can feed less! So, not only will your dog be healthier, but you will save money. To learn more about Stay Loyal’s dog food ingredients, click here.