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60–63 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

A Checklist for Grooming Your Dog :: How to Prevent Dog Fights :: How to Navigate the Bad "Treats" Your Puppy Finds on Walks :: How to Prevent Underlying Illnesses from Progressing

How to Prevent Dog Fights

As a dog owner, you are most likely sickened by the concept of dog fights. In recent years, humane organizations such as the Humane Society and shelters such as Best Friends in Utah have focused on breaking up dog fighting rings. With the discovery of and crack down on Michael Vick's ring a few years back, the issue gained national importance.

When we think of dogs fighting, certain breeds that were bred to fight often come to mind. However, any breed can get into a dog fight, even your mild-mannered Maltese. Some breeds that have been known to get into a scuff are Terriers, Bully dogs, the Chow Chow, Boxers, Huskies, Shepherds and Rotties.

Dog fights outside of the ring usually involve a territorial argument. They can also happen if one dog is trying to assert dominance over another, which is a big concern at this age. Dog fights can occur at the dog park, among dogs in the same house or really anywhere where your puppy meets another dog. There are many signs that a puppy is going to fight before it actually happens. Knowing and watching for these can help you prevent a fight. There are also a few things you can do to prevent one.

Signs That a Puppy is Ready to Fight

  • Hackles - This is the line of fur that starts at the base of your puppy's neck and runs to his shoulders. The hackles raise whenever a dog is irritated, nervous or agitated.

  • Lips - If the lips draw back, this is a sign your puppy is ready to bite.

  • Head - If your puppy levels his head, not carrying it high or low, this could be a sign.

  • Stance - Before a dog fight, a dog's stance gets rigid and almost locked.

  • Distractions - Your puppy will suddenly become intent on his mission and cannot be distracted from his action.

  • Growling - A dog who is ready to fight is either silent or emits a low growl.

Preventing Dog Fights

  • Obedience Training - This is more important than ever. Drill your puppy every day and work especially on commands such as "Stop," "Leave It," and "Watch me!"

  • Noise Maker - As soon as you see the signs of an impending fight, make noise with an air horn or a can of coins.

  • Separate Feeding - Always feed your puppies in separate areas.

  • Praise - As always, praise is as important as correction. Praise your puppy for any good interaction with other dogs.

  • Reinforce the Pack - As leader, you should always leave the house first, be able to move your puppy from a couch or bed whenever you want, and be able to take food from him.

  • Avoid Tense Situations - Don't let other dogs come up to yours when he's on a leash unless you're prepared. Never take your puppy up to a dog who is tied out. Look for the warning signs in other dogs and keep your puppy away from them.

  • Meet and Greet - It's best that both dogs be either on or off leash when they meet. If on leash, provide a bit of slack and don't choke your puppy. Be alert and pull back if any signs arise.

If your puppy does get into a dog fight, there are a few quick things you can do. First, stay calm - this is tough but essential. Next, each owner should pull their dogs by the back legs away from each other. Leash your puppy immediately and leave the area. Resist yelling and screaming at your puppy and instead get him back into his place in the pack with heeling, sitting, and the down and stay commands.

It's possible for a dog to be in a fight and then never fight again. But often a fighter is a repeat offender. If you have a continuing problem, find a dog trainer who specializes in dog aggression. Utilize the "pick up" rule and keep all toys off the floor unless only one dog is playing. And by reinforcing your place as Alpha, it will help immensely in preventing dog fights.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Start Training Your Puppy Right Away

Even though the old saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," in reality you can start training a dog at any age - if the dog is nine weeks, nine months, or nine years old.

Even if you bring home a very young puppy, training and working on wanted behaviors starts immediately after the dog comes home with you. You would start teaching the dog to recognize her name and get her used to a set schedule of when you go outside, when she's fed, when it's time for walks and when it's time for bed time. Even playtime can be training - you're teaching her what she can and cannot play with, not to bite your hands, and rules for your games (such as, when you bite me, the game ends).

Formal training, such as sit, down, and come, can be started at a very young age as well. It's never too early to "shape" behaviors using positive rewards. A good time to enroll into a class is around 6 months old - puppy class.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

Dealing with a Puppy That Chews Everything in Sight

Try offering your puppy a variety of chew toys. Notice the texture and softness of what he usually chooses to chew on (that he's not supposed to chew on) and try to pick a toy with that texture and softness. But don't get any toys shaped like any of the inappropriate items he chews. Dogs don't know the different between a chew toy shaped like a shoe and a real shoe.

Also, redirect the behavior. It's very simple to do this. All you need to do is when you see him chewing inappropriate items, show him the chew toy and encourage him to chew that instead. Praise and richly reward him for chewing the right things. Whenever he chews the wrong things, just redirect.

~Tiffany C., owner of Papillon mix

Tips on Housebreaking a Puppy

The best thing I found was crate-training at night, and when you're away from home. I didn't keep my dog crated when I was home with him, I locked him in the kitchen the first week, staying in there to play with him. On the second week we slowly let him have more freedom in the house.

We were always watching, and after all activity (sleeping, eating, playing) took him out right away. I took him out as much as every 15-30 minutes. We took him out the same door always, out to the same spot (by a big field we have beside our yard), said 'go potty, go potty' (he's 2 now, and still goes to the same area to poop) and petted/praised like crazy when he did (good BOY, good potty!) Then right back inside....no playing right after potty. If we played, it was inside, then back out to play, so he'd 'get it' that that trip out was for potty alone. When you pair whatever words (like "go potty") to the action, I think it helps...and he'd go potty on command after awhile. That's nice when you're getting ready to go somewhere in the car, and need him to go!

If he had accidents when in the crate, I never scolded...never. Just cleaned everything up. Nature's Miracle worked wonders for me; it cleans spots and odors great. We would never rub the puppy's nose in it if there were accidents in the house. That's what worked for me.

~Donna C., owner of Labrador Retriever

Training Your Puppy to Sleep Through the Night

My trainer told me that puppies can usually hold it longer during the night, when they are sleeping.

If your pup is waking up and crying to go out at night, you might try pushing her potty breaks back a little. If she normally wakes up at 12, wait an hour, then take her out at 1. If shes fine with that, push it back another hour, til 2, and so on. That's what I did with my dog and it worked well and quickly. Instead of taking her out at 5, I'd wait til 5:30. Then 6, then 6:30, etc. She was sleeping through the night by 12 weeks or so (but I'm sure every pup is different).

~Dana S., owner of German Shorthaired Pointer

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