Top 10 New Year Do’s and Dont’s

If you're adopting a dog this new year or choosing a puppy, think carefully about how you will select, socialize and train the new addition to the family.


Happy New Year! Photo Courtesy of Lyn Dubois and Tammy

Happy New Year!
Photo Courtesy of Lyn Dubois and Tammy

1. Don’t choose a pup on the spur of the moment or value cosmetics over temperament and personality. The behavioral pick of the litter is generally the middle puppy: The feistiest or the shyest may have been  either a bully or a victim.Picture 23
2. Do take your time. It’s a lifetime commitment. Rescue dogs come with either more or less behavioral issues than when abandoned, largely dependent on the rescue’s choice of training methods. Examine the shelter or rescue organization grounds and policies closely.3. Do socialize as early as possible. Socialize slowly and carefully to people, stranger-dogs and moving objects with frequent and regular exposure. If your dog is fearful or aggressive, the dog park is NOT the place to practice. It can make your dog worse...and it's not fair to the other dogs.

Photo Courtesy of Linda Michaels

Photo Courtesy of Linda Michaels

4. Don’t wait until your dog has received all the vaccinations to begin safe socialization activities. Check the for a socialization checklist, to find out how Socialization and Vaccinations Go Together, as well as for more safety guidelines.

5. Do use “do no harm’ training methods.  Positive does not mean permissive. Establish clear boundaries and be consistent.

6. Don’t use old-fashioned dominance methods or collar equipment that may hurt your dog both psychologically and physically.

Button Courtesy of the No Shock Coalition

Button Courtesy of the No Shock Coalition

7. Do “listen” to your dog’s body language and vocalizations. Your dog talks to you and to dogs through behavior, body language and vocalizations.  Speak your dog’s language by using hand signals.

8. Don’t mistake fear for respect. A lasting bond between man and dog is based on mutual trust and understanding.


Don't mistake fear for "respect"!  Photo Courtesy of Bailey Joy Photography and Charlie

Don't mistake fear for "respect"!
Photo Courtesy of Bailey Joy Photography and Charlie

9. Do use the power of food to train and change emotions in your dog. Later, transition slowly to affection, toys and real life reinforcements.

10. Don’t forget your furry new bundle of joy depends on your care, kindness, patience and diligence to make his new home a warm and wonderful place to be all year long.

Photo Courtesy of Victora Wadkins

Photo Courtesy of Victora Wadkins


Linda Michaels, MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.9663 or by email:[email protected] for private behavioral consultations near the San Diego Coast. Visit us at

Originally published in the U~T San Diego, Scratch n’ Sniff. Chris Ross, Editor.


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Positively Expert: Linda Michaels, MA

Linda Michaels is a VSPDT trainer, dog training columnist, and owner of Dog Psychologist On Call in Del Mar, CA. Linda holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology with research experience in Behavioral Neurobiology. She is a Behavioral Advisor for the Wolf Education Project (WEP) in Julian, CA and Art for Barks in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.


One thought on “Top 10 New Year Do’s and Dont’s

  1. Kay

    I have a big girl of 8, and no matter what I have tried (and i didn't ever try cruel methods), I cannot stop her going ape if she sees another dog while she is on the lead. The noise she make is just horrendous. Any tips?

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