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To have a better behaved puppy, your early intervention is paramount. 

Contrary to what you may have heard in the past, puppies aren't born as blank slates. You'll have to factor in genetics, diet, health and early learning experiences.

What you do during the first weeks of owning your puppy can really make a difference. 

Discover some important steps to set your puppy for success!

1) Socialize Your Puppy 

The critical window for socialization in puppies takes place between the ages of approximately 4 and 14 weeks. 

This is a time when the pup's brain is better primed for accepting different people, animals, sights, sounds and places. 

During this time, you want to expose your puppy to a vast array of people of all ages, healthy puppies, friendly dogs, and if possible different species of animals. 

Don't forget to introduce as many sights, smells, sounds and surfaces that will be part of your pup's environment as he grows up.

This needs to take place before your puppy is fully vaccinated. 

You can take several precautions to protect your puppy infectious diseases such as limiting exposure to healthy puppies and adult dogs who are vaccinated and avoiding areas where dogs with questionable health or unknown vaccination history congregate (like dog parks). 

Make sure to socialize your puppy to a vast array of people and ensuring all interactions are positive.

Make sure to socialize your puppy to a vast array of people and ensuring all interactions are positive.

2) Become a Pro in Recognizing Early Signs of Stress

Socialization needs to be a fun, upbeat and rewarding experience for your puppy. You can use treats to help your puppy form positive associations and happy encounters. 

You need to be wary though of when some exposures are making your puppy feel fearful. 

Recognizing early signs of stress can help you avoid putting your puppy into situations that may be overwhelming and stressful. 

Watch for yawning, lip licking, refusing treats, cowering, approaching and then backing off, refusing to walks.

These can be signs that your puppy is feeling overwhelmed and possibly stressed, and you need socialization to take place at a slower pace, exposing to lower-intensity situations. 

2) Tackle Jumping Behaviors Early 

You want to encourage good behaviors from the get-go, when your puppy is still young and not 80 pounds later. 

Jumping is a natural behavior, as that's the way puppies greet. By jumping want to get close to our faces and interact with us. 

You can reduce the amount of jumping dramatically if your train your puppy from an early age to sit. 

Puppies as young as 8 weeks can readily learn how to sit and sometimes breeders train that even earlier. 

Establish a habit of having the puppy sit for his meals, before entering/exiting a door and for attention. 

Puppies can learn to sit at a young age

Puppies can learn to sit at a young age

3) Tackle Nipping Behaviors Early

It's very natural for puppies to nip as that's how they explore the world and play. 

Puppies may nip harder than normal when they are very excited and when they are teething. 

Teach your puppy to be gentle with your hands by hand feeding him some of his kibble. Hold the kibble between your index finger and thumb and release only when your puppy is very gentle with his mouth. 

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When you see your puppy approaching you with an intent to nip, prevent it by asking your puppy to sit and toss him a kibble or a ball the opposite way. 

Encourage play with toys by offering sessions of fetch, tug and play with a flirt pole. Interactive food puzzles also encourage independent play. 

Get your puppy used to being handled without nipping with these exercises to get puppies used to being handled. 

4) Tackle Chewing Behaviors Early 

Puppies explore with their mouths and also go through teething stages and this makes them often chew anything in sight. 

This means they'll want to chew everything, from your slippers to the curtains and even the legs of a table or drywall!

To prevent them from going on a chewing spree, provide an assortment of toys and rotate them so that your puppy doesn't get bored of them.

Always supervise your puppy and train him the leave and it drop it cues so that you can redirect him the moment you notice he's approaching something or he's carrying something in his mouth. 

When you cannot supervise, keep him in puppy-proof area where he only has access to safe, age -appropriate chew toys and food puzzles. 

Rotate your pup's chew toys to keep him interested in them.

Rotate your pup's chew toys to keep him interested in them.

5) Set For Potty Training Success 

Keep your puppy on a regular schedule, keeping in mind that young puppies may need to be taken out to potty as often as every 15 to 30 minutes. 

On top of this, make sure your puppy is taken out after waking up from a nap, after eating, and anytime he drifts away when playing. 

Take your puppy outside to potty on leash so to keep him on task. Reinforce outdoor elimination by praising and giving your puppy a treat. 

If your yard is safely fenced, you can also remove the leash and have the puppy explore the yard and have fun. 

When back inside, always supervise your puppy and take him out frequently. The more you take him out and he successfully eliminates, leading to praise and rewards, the more you establish a routine. 

When you cannot supervise your puppy, you'll have to confine him in a crate, or if you must leave your puppy for longer than he can hold it, a larger confinement space such as an exercise pen with a sleeping area on one side and potty pads (or even better, a grass pad with tray) on the other. 

Should the puppy have an accident indoors, don't scold. Clean the mess using an enzyme-based cleaner. 

Keep a potty journal during the potty training phase. This way, you'll be able to keep track of when your puppy last used the bathroom and how long it took.

 After one week without an accident, you can increase the time between bathroom breaks by 15 to 30 minutes.

Praise and reward outdoor elimination

Praise and reward outdoor elimination

6) Provide Continuing Education

As puppies grow, training and socialization should continue.

 The sky is the limit when it comes to things you can teach your dog. Clicker training, trick training, brain games, not to mention, a vast array of canine sports.

 You also want to take more preventive steps such as these exercises to prevent separation anxiety in puppies and exercises to prevent resource guarding in puppies. 

It's important to realize that puppies and dogs are always in learning state.

 Every interaction with you and the world around them is a learning opportunity, and this applies to learning good behaviors and even the not-so-good ones. 

By preventing your puppy from rehearsing problematic behaviors, while reinforcing the good ones, you have a pretty decent chance of ultimately being able to raise the dog of your dreams. 

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