Did you know that as your puppy grows her personality will likely change? For example, during my career as an in-home dog trainer, I had many consultations with new dog owners in which they remark about how their puppy stays by them when they are outside so much so that they wonder if they will even need a leash or a fence! I am quick to let them know that their puppy will be changing by the time he or she reaches about 6 months and likely will get much more adventurous (so, a big YES to the leash training and the fence!).
Many pups will begin to get more independent around 5 or 6 months of age and It's helpful to prepare for the time when your new puppy will start to want to explore more by getting him or her used to wearing a harness and collar for walks and by securing your yard. It is also a great idea to begin teaching your puppy to joyfully come when called. Watch for the time when your dog starts wandering away from you and increase your supervision at this point. It is hard to predict just what your puppy will get himself into at this age. It will likely cause you frustration at the time but will be something to laugh about later!
Another thing I hear new puppy owners often say is, "Wow, my puppy doesn't bark or get upset about anything - even if I take his bone". I again smile knowingly and let them know that behaviors like growling and barking don't tend to show up until as late as a year or even 1.5 years of age. I have gotten many calls about dogs suddenly becoming aggressive and almost every time the dog is about one and half years old. Socialization in a positive and gentle way is the main way to prevent your dog from becoming anxious or aggressive. If your dog does start barking or growling in a way that concerns you, I encourage you to contact a dog trainer that uses positive methods and not punishment in order to teach the dog to be more comfortable with what he or she is currently afraid of or upset about. I have also written some other articles on fear and aggression that you can find here.
Once your dog is two you can more confidently say that "my dog is ___" without a dog trainer like me raising her eyebrows. <smile>. Until then, keep your socialization efforts going and keep your positive training on track and most importantly, enjoy your puppy (and share about their mischief in the comment section below)!
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