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Why puppy freedom leads to healthy development

Why puppy freedom leads to healthy development

I’m writing this article in the forest; not that I planned to do so, but this is how it happened. I had some errands to do and when I came back, Pax’s enthusiastic welcome made me “conveniently” forget about an accounting meeting. Oops!

Instead, blinded by my “puppy parent” instinct, I put Pax in the car and headed for our favourite spot in the forest, while one of the managers was trying to get hold of me because I didn’t show up. Luckily, she was very gracious and rescheduled the meeting for the next day.

Now, you may be wondering, what the heck am I doing in the forest with a computer, so let me explain. First, on a balmy summer afternoon, there is no better office than the forest. Second, very few people can completely stop working when a new puppy arrives unless they are retired. Being surrounded by nature can actually increase productivity! My mind gets clearer and ideas start flowing more easily.   

Today, I would like to reflect on a meeting I had recently with our customer service team. They are the people who help me answer some of your questions. Based on your feedback, and our current 9.9 star out of 10 rating on Trustpilot, many of you have already experienced how great our customer service “Healing Ambassadors” are.

The thing I value about them the most is that they genuinely care about you and your dogs and patiently often answer the same questions about dog health and nutrition time and time again, no matter if you have bought our products or not. They also provide me with endless ideas on what to write about. One of the most common questions lately has been how I train Pax, and how is it that he is such an unusually well-behaved pup.

First, I don’t want you to fall for the illusion that he doesn’t get in trouble. He loves to chew on shoes and is drawn to electric cords that now have to be hidden and unplugged. He has the odd accident with a Number Two right after we take him out. He likes to jump up onto people if we don’t manage his greetings and of course he does tend to use his sharp teeth for play. OUCH!

Despite all this he is, in my opinion, a very well-adjusted puppy and here are some thoughts why:

  • Genetics are hard to deny, we did luck out!
  • Early socialization is super important. Once again, we were lucky that Pax’s original mom had one other dog plus children and adults who handled and interacted with the puppies. This is not possible if you adopted a rescue but there is much more you can do.
  • Puppies like a routine which makes them very similar to kids. Our day looks like this:
  1. Wake up around 6 AM for a Number One and a Number Two.
  2. Then a cuddle in bed. Sometimes we give Pax a little antler to chew on. At other times, he just likes his belly scratched or to snooze a little more.
  3. An hour outing in the morning, then a meal and back in the crate for a snooze.
  4. Shorter outing at lunchtime, raw bones to chew on after, followed by some more crate time.
  5. Afternoons are about figuring out how to keep discipline when I need to finish work. Sometimes, I put Pax on the Perfect Fit Harness and Gentle Leash and have him sleep under my desk and then we take him for another outing.

The nature of the outings depends on what we do. I try to take Pax everywhere I can; have him meet other dogs, people, and socialize with kids under supervision. I do not take him to busy dog parks as there are always dogs who are too crazy and may run him over or tumble into him which can be very traumatic for a puppy. 

For those of you who are wondering about immunity, a gentler approach to vaccination, I plan to talk about it in the next newsletter so stay tuned! I have Pax’s titer test results already, there is just so much to talk about today and I do not want to mix two topics. If you missed what supplements I give him here is the list of the essentials that are suitable for both puppies and adult dogs.

But back to puppy routine. It is important to ensure puppies get enough rest (ideally in a crate). Like (human) kids, when they get overtired, they get super hyper and their little developing brains will turn them into squirming, biting, little devils! 

Finally, the most important part, I strongly believe that we have to find a safe space to play outside, in nature, where we allow puppies to be free and unrestricted and where chewing, biting on sticks and branches, digging and exploring is allowed.

This is the real key to raising a healthy and content puppy. From the day we got Pax, we have been taking him to either meadows, parks or forests where he could explore and play. To be honest, it is also the most special time together. As a herding dog, he does not run away and sticks close, but if you are not sure if your pup would not run away, get a long clothesline and hold the end and be on guard for any tangles. You will see that your puppy will likely explore, sniff and chew for a bit, then it will come back to you to check in, before heading off for another mini-adventure. 

The worst thing 👎 for healthy puppy development is to prevent them from exploring and playing on its own and with other puppies.

If you ever hear from anyone, including a veterinarian, that puppies should not see other dogs until they are four months old, do not listen! Don’t be afraid to socialize your pup! 

There is nothing worse you can do than to lock up your puppy at home and not allow it to develop connections and friendships. Their little puppy brains evolve at lightning speed and when they are not stimulated they are unable to create the right habits. This often leads to fear, aggression and stress for the whole family. 

Stay tuned for more info on how to keep your puppy and adult dog safe by avoiding excessive and unnecessary vaccinations. 

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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