Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog

Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, and Well-Behaved Dog

by Ian Dunbar


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How to raise the perfect puppy

A revolution for dogs: Very few dog trainers have not been influenced by Dr. Ian Dunbar’s dog-friendly philosophy. In the 1970s, Dr. Ian Dunbar sparked a dramatic shift in puppy training — away from leash corrections and drill-sergeant adult dog training classes based on competitive obedience and toward a positive approach using toys, treats, and games as rewards for teaching basic manners, preventing behavior problems, and modifying temperament. Before Dr. Dunbar there were no classes for puppy training, very few family dog classes, and not much fun in dog training. His positive approach revolutionized the dog training field, especially puppy training.

Raising a great dog: Now, in Before and After Getting Your Puppy , Dr. Ian Dunbar combines his two popular puppy training manuals into one indexed, value-priced hardcover dog training book. In clear steps, with helpful photos and easy-to-follow puppy training milestones, he presents a structured yet playful and humorous plan for raising a wonderful dog. Dr. Dunbar’s guide is based around six developmental milestones:

  • Your doggy education
  • Evaluating puppy’s progress
  • Errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training
  • Socialization with People
  • Learning bite inhibition
  • The world at large

Fans of The Art of Raising a Puppy, Training the Best Dog Ever, or Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution, will love Ian Dunbar’s Before and After Getting Your Puppy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781577314554
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 04/29/2004
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 162,600
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Before & After Getting Your Puppy

The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, & Well-Behaved Dog

By Ian Dunbar

New World Library

Copyright © 2004 Dr. Ian Dunbar
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-57731-344-1


What's Important to Know Right Away

If you have your heart set on raising and training a puppy, make sure you train yourself beforehand. Remember, it takes only a few days to start ruining an otherwise perfect puppy. Without a doubt, the most important developmental deadline comes before you even think of getting your puppy. It's time to start your education about puppy education!

Many first-time puppy owners are surprised when they discover their new companion bites, barks, chews, digs, and marks the house with urine and feces. Yet these are all perfectly normal, natural, and necessary doggy behaviors.

Your canine newcomer is just itching to learn human house manners. It wants to please, but it has to learn how. It's no good keeping house rules a secret. Somebody has to tell the dog. And that somebody is you.


Before inviting a puppy to share your life, surely it is only wise and fair to find out beforehand what you might expect from a normal developing puppy, which behaviors and traits you consider unacceptable, and how to modify the pup's inappropriate behavior and temperament accordingly. Specifically, owners need to know how to teach the youngster where to eliminate, what to chew, when to bark, where to dig, to sit when greeting people, to walk calmly on-leash, to settle down and shush when requested, to inhibit its otherwise quite normal biting behavior, and to thoroughly enjoy the company of other dogs and people — especially strangers and children.


Whether selecting your prospective pup from a professional breeder or from a family breeding a litter for the very first time, the criteria are the same. Look for puppies raised indoors around human companionship and influence — specifically around people who have devoted lots of time to the puppies' education.

Your puppy needs to be prepared for the clamor of everyday domestic living — the noise of the vacuum cleaner, pots and pans dropping in the kitchen, football games screaming on the television, children crying, and adults arguing. Exposure to such stimuli while its eyes and ears are still developing allows the puppy (with its blurred vision and muffled hearing) to gradually become accustomed to sights and sounds that might otherwise frighten it when older.

Avoid pups that have been raised in an outdoor run or kennel. Remember, you want a puppy to share your home, so look for a puppy that has been raised in a home. Basement- and kennel-raised puppies are certainly not pet-quality dogs. They are "livestock" on par with veal calves and factory hens. They are neither housetrained nor socialized, and they do not make good companions. Look for litters that have been born and raised in a kitchen or living room.

Choosing a breed is a very personal choice — your choice. But you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary problems and heartbreak if your choice is an informed and educated one. Choose the breed you like, investigate breed-specific qualities and problems, and then research the best way to raise and train your puppy. Make sure you test-drive several adult dogs of your selected breed or type before you make your final choice. Test-driving adult dogs will quickly teach you everything you need to know about a specific breed. Test-driving adult dogs will also pinpoint gaps in your education about dog behavior and training.

Regardless of your choice, please do not kid yourself that you will get a "perfect" adult dog simply by selecting the "perfect" breed and the "perfect" individual puppy. Any puppy can become a marvelous companion if appropriately socialized and trained. And, no matter what its breed or breeding, any puppy can also become a doggy delinquent if not properly socialized and trained. Please make an intelligent, researched choice when selecting your puppy, but remember: appropriate socialization and training is the single biggest factor determining how closely the dog will approach your view of perfection in adulthood.

No matter your eventual choice, success or failure is entirely in your hands. Your puppy's behavior and temperament now depend completely on good husbandry and training.


Your puppy's living quarters need to be designed so that house-raining and chewtoy-training are errorless. Each mistake is a potential disaster since it heralds many more to come.

Long-term confinement prevents your puppy from learning to make mistakes around the house, and allows your puppy to teach itself to use an appropriate toilet, to settle down quietly and calmly, and to want to chew appropriate chewtoys. Confinement with chewtoys stuffed with kibble and treats teaches your puppy to enjoy its own company and prepares it for those times when it might be left at home alone.

Short-term close confinement also prevents your puppy from learning to make mistakes around the house, and allows your puppy to teach itself to settle down quietly and calmly, and to want to chew appropriate chewtoys. Additionally, short-term confinement enables you to accurately predict when your puppy needs to relieve itself, so that you may take your puppy to an appropriate toilet area and reward it for using it. The knack of successful housetraining focuses on being able to predict when your puppy "wants to go."


From the moment you choose your puppy, there is some considerable urgency regarding socialization and training. There is no time to waste. Basically, an adult dog's temperament and behavior habits (both good and bad) are shaped during puppyhood — very early puppyhood. In fact, some puppies are well on the road to ruin by the time they are just eight weeks old. It is especially easy to make horrendous mistakes when selecting a pup and during its first few days at home. Such mistakes usually have an indelible effect, influencing your pup's behavior and temperament for the rest of its life. This is not to say that unsocialized and untrained eightweek-old pups cannot be rehabilitated. They can, if you work quickly. But while it's easy to prevent behavior and temperament problems from the beginning, rehabilitation can be both difficult and time-consuming, and it is unlikely that your pup will ever become the adult dog he could have been.


Learn how to make intelligent choices when selecting your pup. Learn how to implement a course of errorless housetraining and errorless chewtoy-training the moment your puppy arrives at its new home. Any housesoiling or chewing mistake you allow your puppy to make is absolute silliness and absolute seriousness: silliness because you are creating lots of future headaches for yourself, and seriousness because millions of dogs are euthanized each year simply because their owners did not know how to housetrain or chewtoy-train them.

If your pup is ever left unsupervised indoors it will most certainly chew household articles and soil your house. Although these teeny accidents do little damage in themselves, they set the precedent for your puppy's choice of toys and toilets for many months to come.

You should treat any puppy housesoiling or house-destruction mistake as a potential disaster, since it predicts numerous future mistakes from a dog with larger bladder and bowels and much more destructive jaws. Many owners begin to notice their puppy's destructiveness by the time it is four to five months old, when the pup is characteristically relegated outdoors. Natural inquisitiveness prompts the lonely pup to dig, bark, and escape in its quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the day in solitary confinement. Once the neighbors complain about the dog's incessant barking and periodic escapes, the dog is often further confined to a garage or basement. Usually though, this is only a temporary measure until the dog is surrendered to a local animal shelter to play the lotto of life. Fewer than 25 percent of surrendered dogs are adopted, of which about half are returned as soon as the new owners discover their adopted adolescent's annoying problems.

The above summarizes the fate of many dogs. This is especially sad because all these simple problems could be prevented so easily. Housetraining and chewtoy-training are hardly rocket science. But you do need to know what to do. And you need to know what to do before you bring your puppy home.


The Developmental Deadlines

As soon as your puppy comes home, the clock is running. Within just three months, your puppy will need to meet six crucial developmental deadlines. If your puppy fails to meet any of these deadlines, it is unlikely to achieve its full potential. In terms of your dog's behavior and temperament, you will probably be playing catch-up for the rest of your dog's life. Most important of all, you simply cannot afford to neglect the socialization and bite inhibition deadlines.

1. Your Doggy Education (before searching)

2. Evaluating Puppy's Progress (before selection)

3. Errorless Housetraining and Chewtoy-Training (the day your puppy comes home)

4. Socialization with People (by twelve weeks of age)

5. Learning Bite Inhibition (by eighteen weeks of age)

6. The World at Large (by five months of age and thereafter)

If you already have a puppy and feel that you are behind, do not throw in the towel. You must acknowledge, however, that you are well behind and that your puppy's socialization and education are now a dire emergency. Immediately do your best to catch up. Contact a pet dog trainer immediately. To locate a trainer in your area, call 1-800-PET-DOGS for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Invite family, friends, and neighbors to help you with your puppy's remedial socialization and training. Maybe take a week or two off of work to devote to your puppy. The younger your puppy, the easier and quicker it is to catch up on her developmental timetable and minimize losses. Every day you delay, however, makes it harder.


Before you search for your puppy, you need to know what sort of dog to look for, where to get it, and when to get it. An educated choice is generally far better than an impulsive puppy purchase. Additionally, you need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the developmental deadlines; they become urgent and crucial the day you select your puppy. Take your time to review this book and then make a thoughtful choice because your dog's future depends on it.


Before you select your puppy (usually at eight weeks of age), you need to know how to select a good breeder and how to select a good puppy. Specifically, you need to know how to assess your puppy's behavioral development. By eight weeks of age: your puppy must have become thoroughly accustomed to a home physical environment, especially to all sorts of potentially scary noises; your puppy should already have been handled by many people, especially men and children; your puppy's errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training should be under way; and your puppy should already have a rudimentary understanding of basic manners. Your puppy should come, sit, lie down, and rollover when requested. In other words, in preparation for household living, the litter of puppies must have been raised indoors and around people and not in some secluded backyard or kennel.


You need to institute an errorless housetraining and chewtoytraining program the very first day your puppy comes home. This is so important during the first week, when puppies characteristically learn good or bad habits that set the precedent for weeks, months, and sometimes years to come.

Be absolutely certain that you fully understand the principles of long-term and short-term confinement before you bring your new puppy home. With a long-term and short-term confinement schedule, housetraining and chewtoytraining are easy, efficient, and errorless. During her first few weeks at home, regular confinement (with chewtoys stuffed with kibble) teaches the puppy to teach herself to chew chewtoys, to settle down calmly and quietly, and not to become a recreational barker. Moreover, short-term confinement allows you to predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself, so that you may take her to the right spot and reward her for eliminating.


The Critical Period of Socialization ends by three months of age! This is the crucial developmental stage during which puppies learn to accept and enjoy the company of other dogs and people. Thus your puppy needs to be socialized to people by the time he is twelve weeks old, making this a most urgent deadline. However, since his series of puppy immunization injections is incomplete at this point, a young pup needs to meet people in the safety of his own home. As a rule of thumb, your puppy needs to meet at least a hundred different people during his first month at home. Not only is this easier to do than it might sound, it's also lots of fun.


Bite inhibition is the single most important lesson a dog must learn. Adult dogs have teeth and jaws that can hurt and harm. All animals must learn to inhibit use of their weapons against their own kind, but domestic animals must learn to be gentle with all animals, especially people. Domestic dogs must learn to inhibit their biting toward all animals, especially toward other dogs and people. The narrow time window for developing a "soft mouth" begins to close at four and a half months of age, about the time when the adult canine teeth first show. Providing your puppy with an ideal forum to learn bite inhibition is the most pressing reason to enroll her in puppy classes before she is eighteen weeks old.


To ensure that your well-rounded and well-schooled puppy remains a mannerly, well-socialized, and friendly dog throughout adulthood, your dog needs to meet unfamiliar people and unfamiliar dogs on a regular basis. In other words, your dog needs to be walked at least once a day. Your puppy may be taken for rides in the car and to visit friends' houses as early as you like. Start walking your puppy as soon as your veterinarian says it's safe to do so.

My goal with these deadlines isn't to scare you into thinking that puppy ownership is all work and no fun. It's certainly a lot of work, but it's mostly fun! I've designed these deadlines — based on years of canine behavior research — to take the guesswork out of raising a happy, healthy puppy. The real fun comes when you get to enjoy living with a well-mannered, friendly, lovely, and lovable adult dog.


Excerpted from Before & After Getting Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar. Copyright © 2004 Dr. Ian Dunbar. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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