How many of you added a new puppy to your family this Christmas? Well, there are some things that you can do right away to help insure that this new member grows to be a happy and mentally healthy member of your family.
The best thing you can do from the very start is to socialize your puppy. Make sure he meets as many people as possible. Kids are the most unpredictable so the more they are around kids the less chance there is of the puppy being surprised or caught off guard. Make sure you supervise these play dates though. Puppies are just puppies after all and they do have sharp teeth. Make sure they meet adult members of the opposite sex and elderly people, too. Some dogs don't take so well to men for one reason or another and elderly people have a slightly different way of interacting with animals. If your pet is exposed to a wide range of personalities his own personality will benefit.
Another thing you can do for your pet is to handle them. Hold them and pet them. Unless they are working dogs they will need nail trims, so handle their feet often, pressing gently on their paw pads. If you have a breed who will need grooming, your puppy will benefit greatly by brushing them on a daily basis and getting them use to things like the sound of a blow dryer.
When you are helping your pet to get use to these things that will be a regular part of his life, keep the sessions short. Socialization and handling for short periods of time and more often will do wonders for your puppy.
Now that you've taken care of the human aspect, make sure you socialize your puppy with other animals. Dogs are a must and at some point in their life they are bound to encounter a cat. Puppy training schools and doggie day cares are a good place to socialize as well as just getting together with friends for a puppy play date. The more they are around other dogs the better chance of them behaving nicely when you encounter other dogs when you're out in public.