It is always a great event when a puppy arrives in its host family. After often several weeks of waiting, the newcomer is the centre of care and attention. But, if these good relations are to last, you will have to make sure that the situation of the puppy you have just acquired is one which eases integration.
It is indeed these first weeks of life together which, to a large extent, will set the pattern for your pet's behaviour in future years.
In particular, you must avoid two big mistakes:
- thinking of the animal as a human being as far as intellectual and emotional capacities are concerned
- or, on the contrary, acting as though it were no more than a machine, devoid of feeling and of understanding
Your dog is a living creature. In their natural environment, dogs live in groups with complex hierarchical social rules. Its development is based on attachment, and the first weeks are crucial for the rest of its life. This is when it learns the basic features of its environment, and how to control itself. The very long period of its dependence on its mother (or human tutors) goes with its considerable learning capacity. It is able to acquire social rituals favouring the harmony of the group and to forge individual bonds with one or other members of it.
For dogs, communication involves all of the senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch). It represents a blend of instinctive messages, reflexes and more complex learned sequences combining posture, vocalisation and emission.
- Like all mammals, a dog will adapt - several times in the course of its life, if need be- to very different conditions, families and environments. But do not forget that, whatever the circumstances, your companion is always going to react as a dog, with a dog's understanding and a dog's reflexes.
- Nor should you forget that your pet is unique - an individual moulded by its parents, birth, early environment, time spent with the mother, and all its various experiences of life.
All of the general rules which you are going to be given here will need to be adapted to each individual case.
So are you aware now of your dog's complexity, richness and limits? If so, then, let us see a few important points so as to avoid getting off on the wrong foot: