Strangers And Your New Puppy

Strangers and Your New Puppy

Many struggle with the dilemma of how to handle strangers and their new puppy, especially as they work through the basic steps of engagement and training, which is the critical process of proper socialization. Puppies in general are just like small children. They do not have the full body vocabulary of an adult, and can rarely properly project their fear or stress; often resulting in a scared or hostile puppy. To them the world is a new, and often scary place. For now, you want to teach them to look to you for everything.

Puppies will first look to you for direction, as well as protection. Don’t be scared to tell strangers, friends, or family “I’m training my puppy, please don’t pet him, or give him attention”. Don’t worry about being rude, or that many people will misunderstand this. Your priority is your four-legged friend who is still learning how to co-exist in a very big world. Without clear direction from you, the puppy may start to make not so good choices; for example, fear barking. Our lack of action has now taught our dog to potentially be aggressive to new people and places. We need to start the process of of getting  strangers and your new puppy in a safe environment for both of them.

Now here is what you can do:

  • Immediately get your puppy’s attention-use a high reward such as a tasty treat or favorite toy. Continue to redirect to yourself and engage your puppy until the distraction has either lost its appeal, or is no longer around
  • Keep your puppy focused on you
  • Anytime your puppy seems nervous or strange-redirect them to you
  • Teach your dog that new places, people, and things, are cause for reward and play from you. This will both build their focus on you, and teach them that the world is no big deal and can be ignored or not worried about
  • When people and the world are no source of concern, it can be met calmly later on
  • Don’t let other people distract your puppy, letting other people engage and reward your dog teaches them to ignore you. You also don’t want to build expectations that won’t be met, creating a puppy that is unsure.

In short don’t be scared to be assertive, say no, ask politely. Imagine how strangers would look to you if you were only 12” tall. This is also a critical time when you are creating the building blocks of a life-long partnership, and focusing on the core concepts of motivation and engagement with your new puppy. Teach them now that you are the source of their reward, praise, and safety, and you will have a dog that looks to you for life, and will be confident out in the world with you by their side.

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We know being a student can be tough on your budget but that you still want exceptional veterinary care for your pet. We offer all current students a 10% discount off of veterinary care when they show their student ID.

Please mention offer when making appointment to redeem.
Valid from Nov 20, 2019 - Nov 27, 2021

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Meet Our Team

  • Dr. Bob  Sarsfield Photo
    Dr. Bob Sarsfield
    Veterinarian in Harrisburg, PA The chief medical officer and owner and has been with the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County since 1979. He started out working in the kennel and then attended Penn State University, which he graduated from in 1985. He received his DVM from Purdue University in 1989. His professional areas of interest include feline and canine medicine and surgery, ultrasound, and low level laser therapy. Contact the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County today and make an appointment ...
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    Dr. Heather Balmer
    Dr. Heather Balmer (Zanes) is managing veterinarian and has been with the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County since 1999. Dr. Balmer first worked as a kennel assistant and then as a veterinary technician assistant. She received her undergraduate degree from Juniata College and her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. Balmer was raised in Penbrook but currently lives with her husband, Matt, and grandmother in Hummelstown along with their four-legged ...
  • Dr. Kelly  Allen Photo
    Dr. Kelly Allen
    Dr. Kelly Allen joined the staff of the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in 2011. She is a graduate of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. She enjoys talking to clients about their furry family members. Dr. Allen has a keen interest in animal behavior and enjoys helping new dog and cat owners as they experience the joy (and sometimes frustrations) of introducing an animal into the family. She lives with her husband, Todd, and one ...
  • Dr. Jennifer  Fletcher Eckenrode Photo
    Dr. Jennifer Fletcher Eckenrode
    Dr. Jennifer Fletcher Eckenrode, CCRT joined the staff of the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in 2011. She attended Colorado State University where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Originally from Boston, Dr. Fletcher grew up in Michigan. She has lived in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, and even Perth, Australia. She lives in Mechanicsburg with her husband (also a veterinarian!) and daughter, their Heeler-Lab mix, Colbie, ...
  • Dr. Audrey  Zajac Photo
    Dr. Audrey Zajac
    Dr. Audrey Zajac joined the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in July, 2013. She became interested in animals at a young age, spending her summers working on her grandparents’ dairy farm and riding horses at 12 years old. Dr. Zajac attended King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and headed off to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Auburn, AL. After graduation, she returned to PA in 2009 where she worked with dogs, cats, and horses ...
  • Dr. Whitney  Wolfgang Photo
    Dr. Whitney Wolfgang
    Dr. Whitney Wolfgang joined the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in June 2016. Growing up in Hummelstown, PA, Dr. Wolfgang always knew she wanted to work with animals in some capacity. Early in her college career, she fell in love with veterinary medicine. She graduated from Towson University in Maryland with a dual degree in Biology and Animal Behavior. She traveled to South Africa for a veterinary experience with local community outreach and wildlife veterinary medicine. Dr. Wolfgang earned ...
  • Dr. Lloyd V.  Reitz, Jr. Photo
    Dr. Lloyd V. Reitz, Jr.
    Dr. Lloyd V. Reitz, Jr. grew up on his family’s fourth-generation dairy farm in Shamokin, PA. In addition to caring for cows, he grew up with a wide variety animals, including horses, pigs, chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, and even a couple of emus. Dr. Reitz pursued a degree in Biology from Messiah College, graduating in 2001. He then continued his education at Bucknell University, obtaining a Master’s of Science in Cellular Biology in 2004. After receiving his M.S., he moved to Richmond, VA, and ...
  • Dr. Jamie  Putt Photo
    Dr. Jamie Putt
    Dr. Jamie Putt is a native of Harrisburg, PA. She obtained her B.S. in Animal Bioscience from Pennsylvania State University in 2001. She attended veterinary school at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and obtained her D.V.M. in 2005. Dr. Putt is a current active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry, the mission of which is to educate the public about the importance of oral health in animals. Her special ...
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