Virbac USA

Tips for Nurturing a Behaviorally Healthy Puppy

Have a new puppy? Discover 8 tips from Dr. Lauren Johnson (DVM) to make sure it grows to be a well-behaved dog.

Your new puppy needs your guidance as he/she matures into a healthy, behaviorally sound dog. The sensitive period for socialization in puppies takes place from three to fourteen weeks of age. Oftentimes, puppies who lack early positive exposure to various items, noises, people and situations will become fearful and experience anxiety and stress throughout life.  

The following tips are a guideline for helping your puppy mature into a healthy, happy, behaviorally sound dog. Remember, it is very important that all experiences are safe and positive for the puppy.  Each encounter should include treats and lots of praise. Please report, without any delay, any behavior concerns to your veterinarian.

  1. Schedule your puppy for training and socialization class with a professional dog trainer that uses positive reinforcement techniques. For guidance on how to choose a trainer, please check out the “How to Choose a Trainer” Handout from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.
  2. Expose your puppy to many different surfaces, objects (stationary, fast/slow moving), locations, noises.
  3. Encourage your puppy to safely experience different challenges such as climbing up and down stairs, jumping over objects, getting into and out of the bathtub/shower, and others.
  4. Use different containers and variable locations to feed and water your puppy.
  5. Meet and play with many new people including young and elderly adults, children, people in wheelchairs, on crutches, with hats, sunglasses.
  6. Play safely with other puppies and adult dogs as much as possible.
  7. Experience a leash and collar ten different times in ten different locations.
  8. Leave your puppy alone safely, away from family and other animals. Start with five minutes and work up to longer as the puppy adapts.

About the author

Lauren Johnson

DVM, Virbac