Sample text for Puppy's first steps : raising a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog / Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University ; edited by Nicholas Dodman with Lawrence Lindner.


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Preface
Each year, 13 million households in the United States adopt a dog, often a
puppy. They love dogs and, like you, finally make the decision to raise one
and enjoy the special kind of companionship only a dog can bring.
The next year, half of those households surrender their young
canine charges to shelters and pounds, where most of them are put to sleep.
Clearly, there's a gap between the wanting and the doing, a hole that needs
to be filled.
That's why we wrote this book--to get you and your puppy off to
the best start so that you'll enjoy many happy years together, developing the
kind of bond you always hoped for and that your puppy deserves. Our
experience has shown us that the first twelve months of a dog's life is the
time her owner(s) most need recommendations and guidance on health and
deportment.
We're in a good position to know--and to know what new dog
owners need to hear. Each year, nearly twenty thousand people bring their
dogs to see us at our hospital for small animals, providing us with one of the
largest canine caseloads in the country, which in turn affords us an incredible
opportunity to learn exactly the kind of advice puppy owners need and how
best to communicate it.
We have among us some of the world's most celebrated
veterinarians doing the communicating. Housed in various facilities on our
585-acre campus in Grafton, Massachusetts, is a team of patent-winning,
premier veterinary practitioners and investigators who combine practical
clinical programs with cutting-edge research to bring together the best in
health care and behavior.
Consider, for instance, that our nutrition faculty is often consulted
by the pet industry in designing new diets for dogs--in health, in the face of
disease, during growth, and during maintenance. Our emergency critical care
program is the largest residency training program in the country. And we use
some of the most refined equipment anywhere for diagnostic imaging of
puppies, including an MRI, a spiral CT scanner, quantitative EEG, ultrasound,
and nuclear imaging technology. All of these advances allow us to
understand as much as possible about the conditions we treat. We also
practice preventive medicine so that painful, debilitating, and costly diseases
can be avoided, or at least attenuated, down the line.
But Tufts doesn't specialize only in expensive medical diagnostics
and preventive medicine techniques. We have also identified the best choices
for general health care maintenance--everything from spaying and neutering
to vaccinations, grooming, and flea and tick prevention.
Then, too, humane care of small domestic animals is our priority.
Tufts is one of the few institutions in the country that study human-animal
relations (we even run a bereavement hot line for pet owners), so we know
what works for the best people-dog relationships. And we have a behavior
clinic that's second to none. Its approach is not hard-line or punishment-
based. Rather, it is holistic, based on understanding, canine lifestyle
enrichment, and positive reinforcement of desired deportment. Our
experience has demonstrated that dogs behave better--and more
consistently--when they are rewarded for their good actions rather than
punished for their bad ones.
It's a paradigm shift from the approach still put forth by a number
of popular schools of dog training and espoused in numerous dog care
books--even though that shift should have taken place throughout the
training community a hundred years ago. At the beginning of the 1900s,
psychologist Edward Thorndike showed that you could teach a dog (and a
number of other species) a lot more by rewarding the right response than by
punishing the wrong one. Positive reinforcement works more quickly and
more effectively over the long term. Nonetheless, nine out of ten dogs whose
owners bring them to us to help correct behavior problems have been through
hard-knocks training in their puppy classes--punishment-based tactics using
choke or prong collars, or worse, methods that were first employed to get
military dogs to perform essential maneuvers during World War II and then,
unfortunately, brought into the civilian dog-training arena. A lot of people bring
their dogs to our offices in those very instruments of torture, meaning to do
the right thing yet feeling bad about the pain they have been inflicting.
Owners don't have to feel bad any longer. Punishment, aside from
making a puppy anxious and miserable, teaches a dog nothing other than
how to avoid punishment. There's nothing learned about what goes into
positive interactions between a person and a pup and how the two can get a
mutually beneficial relationship going. In fact, once you begin with
punishment tactics, you have to keep punishing to keep getting the desired
response, which only breaks down the human-canine bond even more.
The bottom line here: you can get a lot more out of a puppy with a
carrot than with a stick. Thus, if hitting a dog with a newspaper, pinning him
on his back, or bopping him under the chin as methods of training all feel
wrong to you, your instincts are right, and you've come to the right place.
We're not saying your pup doesn't need firmness. But inflictions
of physical pain are not simply "corrections," as they are sometimes
euphemistically called. They are abuse. We'll tell you, instead, what you
need to do to keep your dog happy as you teach him to be well behaved.
Follow our recommendations and your canine companion will go
through life not only healthy and content but also easy to get along with--
the kind of pet you like having around and that others will be well disposed
toward, too. Good feelings from others will only enrich the relationship
between you and your dog that much more.
Your role will not be insignificant; proper puppy rearing takes
commitment. But the return on what you put into the process during that first
year will be immeasurable--for years and years to come.

Copyright © 2007 by Tufts University. Reprinted by permission of Houghton
Mifflin Company.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Puppies.