Adopting a new dog is a wonderful opportunity for your entire family. This lifelong commitment is one that will pay off in years of companionship, especially if you lay a solid foundation to support the healthy cognitive development of your dog or puppy. Taking a few simple steps will go a long way to ensuring that he will grow up healthy and well adjusted.
Make sure that you choose a pet food that will enhance healthy neural development. Select a food that is a good source of brain-healthy nutrients, such as omega 3 fatty acids and DHA. DHA is a building block for healthy brain and eye development. Current research is making it clear that nutrition, including DHA, can significantly impact the achievement of genetic potential in puppies.
Dr. Lisa Freeman a veterinary nutrition researcher at Tufts University urges you to choose reliable pet food manufacturers. She asserts that “You would absolutely be shocked at the variability in the quality of different companies.” Talk to your veterinarian for specific advice as to which food is right for your puppy.
Train Your Dog to be a Good Canine Citizen
Training your puppy is one of the most important ways that you can contribute to your dog’s healthy cognitive development. Puppies, especially, are very active. Owners should harness that energy in ways that will foster healthy behaviors.
I like to use a training collar that fits on the back of their head and around the muzzle, in much the same manner as a horse halter. These collars utilize natural pressure points, which teach puppies in a gentle and natural way that we are the dominant members of their new pack. Puppies who know their place in the social structure of your home will be more likely to develop into healthy, well-balanced dogs.
Games and puzzle-solving toys are also part of the training process. Keeping training fun will encourage dogs’ natural curiosity. This further supports healthy cognitive development.
Crate Train Your Dog
Crate training is, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of dogs’ cognitive development. Separation anxiety is one of the most frequent behavior disorders plaguing my canine patients. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety often participate in destructive behaviors.
For instance, one of my clients left an Irish wolfhound in a garage and returned to find the family’s Porsche torn to pieces! I believe that most cases of separation anxiety could be eliminated if dogs were crate trained as puppies. There is no way that our dogs can be with us twenty-four hours a day. When dogs must be alone, it is critical that they have a safe, comfortable area in which to stay.
It takes work and diligence to provide an environment that will support the best possible scenario for the cognitive development of your puppy. Follow an integrated approach and seek the counsel of your family veterinarian. Heed your vet’s advice, but don’t hesitate to ask questions.