Dr. Marty Becker on Training Your New Puppy

It's the holiday present that every kid dreams of: an adorable, snuggly puppy.

Unfortunately, puppies don't come with instruction manuals, so "Good Morning America" asked veterinarian Marty Becker to give viewers the basics on how to raise their new pup.

Accentuate the Positive

If you want a well-rounded, gently mannered dog, there's one secret you must know: Overdo positive experiences during the critical socialization period in puppyhood, which ends when your puppy is about three months old.

This means more than training. Expose your puppy to everything it might encounter -- objects, sounds and so forth -- and reward the behavior you want to teach.

Make Puppies Work for Their Food

Although owners may think all they need to do is measure food and put it in a bowl, things have changed. Remember, all dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves had to hunt for their dinner, but we've made it easy for dogs.

Instead of searching and capturing their food, they laze over to the bowl. This takes between 30 seconds and three minutes, while hunting would take hours.

Instead, try giving your puppy a food puzzle, like the Canine Genius, the Buster Food Cube and the Busy Buddy.

Rather than making eating an ultraquick, mind-numbing activity for the puppy, it infuses thought, manipulation and skill into meals.

Teach Constructive vs. Destructive Chewing

Dogs are just like babies with an obvious oral fixation, They teethe and try to put everything in their mouths. It's natural, normal behavior for dogs and necessary for puppies; their adult teeth start coming in at about 3½ months.

Older dogs like to chew as well -- for enjoyment and to relieve boredom or stress. It also helps reduce dental tartar, so you don't want to stop it.

You have to teach your pet the difference between constructive and destructive chewing. To do this, praise them when they chew the right things while preventing them from chewing the wrong things.

It's a good idea to have chew toys that are designed for puppies. Praise them when they're chewing them. Say, "Good chew. That's a good chew."

With some chew toys, you can stuff a treat inside, making it a combination chew toy-food puzzle. With the Stuff'n'Sniff, you can put something of yours inside. It will carry your scent and instead of chewing on your favorite shoes, your puppy will chew on the toy instead.

Ultracomfort Dog Beds

Dog beds have come a long way from throwing a blanket in a cardboard box on the floor. Now, they come with heaters, memory foam, and even a simulated mother's heartbeat.

The Comfort Pup helps comfort new puppies by simulating a mother dog's heartbeat. The soft pad and plush dog pillow include a digitally mastered heartbeat on a 30-minute timer in the heart area of the 21-inch plush mother dog. The Comfort Pup includes an on/off push button on the paw and removable, machine washable, chew-resistant bed with a pocket for a warmer. It's also excellent for calming new puppies or dogs that get nervous or chew when left alone.

It's also available in the Comfort Heart, a 15-inch-tall, heart-shaped pillow in pink or blue.

How to Housebreak Your Dog

Puppies have to urinate a lot. The rule of thumb is that they can hold it for one hour longer than their age in months.

For the puppy version of disposable diapers, try training pads. Training pads can hold a lot of liquid. They also feel dry to the touch, and have plastic backings and tear-resistant materials to provide strong protection for surfaces and easy disposal.

A more expensive version of the training pad is a carrier insert. This is supposed to keep your dog more comfortable if he has an accident in his crate while traveling or being crated. These disposable inserts contain two pads with super absorbent polymers, a rigid insulating core, and a soft, clothlike cover for comfort.

Curing Bad Doggie Breath

Although owners want kissable doggie breath, taking good care of their pets' mouths -- regular brushing, special dental diets, and regular professional care -- will let them live 15 percent longer (an average of two years) than they would without it.

An estimated 85 percent of all dogs will have some level of periodontal disease by age 3, making it the most commonly diagnosed problem in veterinary medicine. Pfizer recently developed a dog vaccine called Porphyromonas, which fights periodontitis.

The vaccine can be given to puppies as young as 7 weeks old. The product is injected below the skin, with two initial doses three weeks apart. While the duration of immunity has not been established, it is expected that this product will be boosted every six months to 12 months.

Ask your vet whether it's right for your puppy or your dog.

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