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What does it mean to have manners? For humans, it means to have polite social behavior toward others. At a very young age, humans are taught manners and what it means to have good manners. Having good manners is important for success in society.

Just like humans, dogs must also be taught manners. They must be taught how to behave around humans and other animals. A dog with poor manners might exhibit embarrassing and or frustrating behaviors that may prevent their owner from enjoying the companionship of their dog or could result in injury.

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Puppies begin learning manners from the minute that they are born. Their mother and litter mates teach a puppy how to interact and behave with other dogs. This is all done without any human interaction and cannot be duplicated no matter how hard we humans try. In order to assure that pups are taught this “unduplicated socialization training”, it is important that a puppy remain with their mother and litter until they reach 7 to 8 weeks of age.

When you take your puppy home, and away from the mother and litter mates, it becomes your responsibility to continue teaching proper manners. Puppies between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks of age should be learning what is, and what is not, appropriate behavior. For example, what is acceptable for your puppy to chew? May he jump and or play bite? Even a 7-week-old puppy should not be jumping. If you allow jumping as a pup, the behavior will continue as an adult dog.

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At the age of 8-16 weeks, a local “puppy pre-school” program can help owners establish a foundation for successful manners training. A clear line of communication, and consistency is the foundation for this and all training moving forward. Once a clear line of communication has been established, a dog can learn the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It is important for a dog owner to be patient during this training process as all dogs, like humans learn at a different pace.

Dogs do not understand the concept of “sometimes”. Here lies the importance of consistency along with effective communication. Families must agree on the rules and everyone in the family, along with the dog, must abide by those rules. If you allow your dog to jump on you when you arrive home, you can then expect that your dog will greet guests the same way. If you allow him to lick your face, don’t be shocked when he licks Grandma’s face. If he is allowed to bark at the neighbor’s dog, (you don’t like that dog either), don’t be surprised when he barks at all dogs. Never sometimes. A dog is either allowed to do something all the time or none of the time.

Continuing to teach manners as your puppy matures is necessary. Basic obedience training can begin at the age of approximately 4 months. Advanced concepts can follow as your dog matures. Commands taught to your dog during obedience training can be used to help control and manage your dog. Doing so allows you to prevent and eliminate unacceptable behaviors.