So you brought home a new puppy, did ya? Congratulations, let the fun begin! It’s probably hard to stop focusing on that cute face, puppy breath, wiggly body and wagging tail. Along with the cuteness overload and constant entertainment, deciding on adding a puppy into the family is a HUGE responsibility! Raising your life-long companion from puppyhood can be very rewarding, and yet it can be challenging and a lot of work. I’d like to offer you FIVE major tips that will play a tremendous role in raising your puppy into a well adapted adult dog. Let’s get started!
#1: Focus on Potty Training:
Successfully potty training your puppy is a BIG deal. Start this training as soon as your puppy arrives home. Remember that your puppy is learning, and it’s not helpful (in fact, it’s harmful) to scold him or her if they have an accident in the house. Our pets live in the “now”, which means that’s how they will learn too. If you catch your puppy pottying in the house, simply pick them up (in the act) and move them outside. Once they potty outside, reward them profusely with praise, baby talk, and fun attention… let the treats rain from the sky! Give your puppy every opportunity to eliminate outside. Take them out after eating or napping (they will almost always have business to do after these two activities!). Remember that they are learning, and they are babies – they will need more opportunities to potty outside. Let them out every few hours (yes, this means a midnight potty break!). Generally, dogs will eventually want to do their business outside. Some dogs are faster learners than others. Remember: treats are your friend when training!
#2: Invest Time in Crate Training:
A dog that is crate trained is a dog that is more well adapted. You never know when the crate will be necessary – whether during travel or otherwise. That said, crate training a puppy tends to be a little easier than crate training an adult dog. It’s also INCREDIBLY useful when potty training! Start by introducing your puppy to the crate. Leave it out in the middle of the room for them to sniff and inspect. Throw treats in the crate for them to retrieve, and feed meals in the crate (with the crate door opened). Slowly, your puppy will begin to associate the crate with good things -like treats!. When your puppy is unsupervised (home alone, or in the evenings), allow your puppy to spend time in the crate. This will be helpful when potty training, and also keep them from doing naughty puppy things – like chewing the furniture!. The crate should be large enough for your puppy to turn around in, but not large enough for them to potty on one side and sleep on the other. Put their favorite safe toys in with them, soft bedding, and treats (like a frozen kong!). Usually puppies that have been exposed to crates end up enjoying them as adults. They become “safe havens” during dinner parties, house work, or when the children are having slumber parties.
#3 Establish a Relationship With a Vet:
Once you have your puppy (yay!), establishing a relationship with a local veterinarian is huge. Surely, you will want your puppy to have a clean bill of health, but almost just important is the relationship and tone that is set right off the bat. Your pup will have a life-long relationship with veterinarians, and so it’s incredibly important they become comfortable the experience. Make sure your veterinarian is warm and gentle to your puppy. Even if your puppy doesn’t need further exams, consider bringing them by the veterinary clinic just to get treats from the staff, or get on the scale. The more they relate the vet clinic with fun experiences, the better! Play with your puppy’s ears and paws, so that they get used to having these areas touched. Begin brushing their teeth (even if it’s just their baby teeth!) and trimming their nails as soon as you can. Again, pair these activities with hugs, kisses and cookies!
#4 Spend Time Socializing and Exposing Your Puppy:
Socializing your puppy to dogs, cats and other people is HUGE! Your puppy’s brain is a sponge, meaning they are really soaking up and retaining all of their experiences. These experiences will help mold the way they view the world, and others around them. Allow your puppy to play with other healthy dogs as much as possible. This will allow your puppy to learn appropriate play styles, learn how to communicate, and overall be socialized with other dogs. Give your puppy every opportunity to meet as many people as possible – men, woman, children, seniors, people in uniforms, people on bicycles, people in hats, etc. If you or a friend have a dog-friendly cat, arrange for supervised visits. Expose your puppy not just to people and animals, but experiences as well. Allow them to take car rides so that they are used to the car, or go to the vet clinic just for a cookie. Again, a socialized puppy equals a socialized dog.
#5 Enroll Your Puppy in Kindergarden:
Basic obedience training is a way for you and your puppy to bond, and for your puppy to learn the basic essentials such as sit, stay, and leave it. This type of training will help deepen your relationship together, and will come in handy for tips #1-#4. This training 101 will allow for you and your puppy to set the foundation for further training as well. For example, as your puppy ages, it may be important for them to learn off leash recall. If you’ve already established a way of working together, that type of training will likely come more naturally. I recommend positive training only! Let’s be honest – learning is exhausting, and an exhausted puppy is a well-behaved puppy!
In conclusion, you’re in for a world of fun, but it’s going to be a lot of work too! Your puppy will soon be your furr-ever friend, and that hard work will pay off! These five tips are suggested to be tools and building blocks for you to keep in mind while raising your puppy.
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