It’s no secret that most people like puppies. They’re cute and particularly endearing, but anyone who has spent a lot of time around a puppy knows that they can be a lot of work. You’ve got to look after the puppy and make sure that it grows up to be a healthy, well-balanced, and well-behaved adult dog.
Puppies can be compared to toddlers. They sleep a lot, but they’re full of energy whenever they are awake. They tend to need more attention and are very vocal about wanting to spend time with you. Also, this is the time when you can instruct your puppy and guide them through these formative years. While raising a puppy can be tiring or even frustrating, it’s also a great deal of fun. Don’t lose sight of that side of things and remember that it’s just temporary. Your pup will be all grown up before you know it.
However, if your puppy isn’t raised right, it can be anxious, badly behaved, and impolite. While these are concerning enough with a tiny puppy, they can spell long-term issues for an adult. In some cases, puppies can even grow up to become dangerous. But don’t worry if the prospect of raising your puppy seems overwhelming. With the proper guidance and some effort, you can end up with a great dog.
Before your puppy even comes home, you’ll want to stock up on some supplies. These will keep your puppy healthy and happy while keeping your home safe from its more rambunctious nature.
- Specialized food and water dishes
- Some of the puppy food that they’re used to (the seller may provide a supply)
- Whatever puppy food you’re transferring them to (if you are changing it)
- Healthy dog treats
- Collar with your ID
- Leash and puppy harness
- A dog crate or carrier
- Dog bed
- Grooming supplies (brush/comb, nail clippers, dog toothbrush)
- Toys that are safe for puppies
- Poop bags
- Pet-safe home cleaner, for any accidents
You may find that you want some other supplies, but that covers all of the basics. When it comes to their food, suddenly changing a puppy’s diet can give them tummy trouble. It’s recommended to slowly switch them from one food to another if you wish to. Or you could just keep feeding them the same food as the seller, as long as it’s high quality.
Preparing and Protecting Your Home
In case you hadn’t guessed by now, puppies are mischievous little creatures. In an ideal world, you’d be able to constantly keep an eye on them, but this isn’t an ideal world, is it? Puppies explore the world primarily through their mouths and can be very prone to chewing anything they can get their teeth on. This includes expensive or even toxic things, so you’ll need to puppy-proof your home to make sure it’s safe.
First, it’s easier to keep your puppy confined to a section of the house. Yes, they’ll escape from time to time, but it’s more feasible to puppy-proof a few rooms rather than the entire house. Also, this makes it easier to find your puppy in case they find a crafty hiding spot. Some people use baby gates and barriers, while others just keep certain doors closed most of the time.
When puppy-proofing, look out for anything they might be especially tempted to chew or swallow, and close off areas where they can get themselves stuck. Look out for electrical cords and any potentially dangerous plants and keep them above floor level. Bags can also contain dangers, like that bar of chocolate that you’re saving for the afternoon.
Bear in mind that these aren’t ways to allow you to leave your puppy alone all day, every day, certainly not when you’ve just brought it home. They might also chew furniture and even rugs or carpets, especially if they get anxious. Plenty of toys will help mitigate their chew instinct, especially if they find the toys engaging.
The best way to protect your house and your puppy from mischief is to start training your puppy early.
Training Your Puppy: the Essentials
Most people get their puppies at between 8-12 weeks of age, which is when they’re old enough to run around like little monsters and can eat solid food, but they certainly have a long way to go. At this age, your puppy won’t be completely house-trained, and it can take a little while before accidents come to an end.
As you would with potty-training a toddler, you do have to put some effort into house-training your puppy. Puppies will naturally avoid soiling their bed if they can help it, which is a good start. At this age, they will probably need to go every couple of hours or so, but they aren’t very good at telling you yet. You can either keep a close eye on your puppy and wait for any telltale signs, or you can simply establish a routine.
If you have your own outdoor space, then you’ll likely still need to go out with your puppy for at least the first few weeks or so. When your pup successfully pees or poops, let it know exactly how proud you are of such an achievement. If you don’t have private outside space available, you may have to take your pup out on a leash. If they aren’t yet fully vaccinated, then stay clear of other animals as much as possible.
However, accidents will still happen with your pup. You’ll need to be patient and use positive reinforcement. Yelling or hitting your puppy will likely just be scary and confusing to them, especially when a simple “no” will do. This principle should be used in other forms of training as well. In some cases, you could give your puppy a healthy treat.
Yes, while house training is important, it’s not the only thing your puppy needs to learn. Puppies can push boundaries, so it’s best to establish a consistent code of behavior. As mentioned before, puppies are prone to chewing. Rather than constantly yelling when your puppy chews the wrong thing, simply redirect their attention to a chew toy.
Speaking of toys, be sure to play with your puppy often. Even once you’re able to take them for walks, at least half an hour of playtime will keep your puppy well exercised and happy. Playing is an important part of your puppy’s development, and it helps you and your puppy bond.
Once your puppy is old enough, you could try teaching some simple tricks and commands. These engage your puppy and teach them how to behave. Basic obedience commands like “sit”, “come”, and “wait” are typically where people start. Also, teach your puppy to sit still while grooming them by starting young and trying to make the process as stress-free as possible. Crate training is also very beneficial, as it gives your puppy a safe haven and can help you to sleep at night.
Training courses such as those found at https://www.puppytrainedright.com/site/online-puppy-training-course help you to train your puppy more effectively.
Another integral part of of your puppy’s development is socialization. Yes, he’ll get a measure of this while playing with you, but it’s vital that your puppy also spends time with other people and animals. After they’ve been vaccinated and they’re old enough, be sure to introduce your puppy to other dogs on walks and in other places. If you know someone else with a puppy or a dog, a playdate might be ideal.
Your Puppy’s Health
One of the first things to do once your puppy has arrived is get in touch with your local veterinarian for a wellness visit. At your puppy’s first visit, they’ll be checked for any health problems, parasites, or any other potential concerns. Your vet will establish a vaccination schedule and a program for controlling fleas, ticks, heartworms, or other common parasites.
If you have any questions or concerns, then now is the time to ask. The vet can give you helpful advice about how much to feed your puppy and which types of food to give them. You should also take the opportunity to schedule a follow-up appointment. It’s recommended that you take your pup to the vet after 6-months, outside of the aforementioned vaccinations or any acute health concerns.
The 6-month visit will allow the vet to check on the growth and general progress of your furry friend and make sure that everything is ticking along as it should be. They can also give you tips on the adolescent period of your dog’s life, outlining any potential challenges that may crop up. A common misconception is that a dog goes from a puppy to an adult, but there is always a stage in between, as there is with humans. While dog adolescence isn’t quite the same, there are some similarities. Expect growth spurts, hormonal changes, and new behavior.
One main challenge is that your pup will be maturing sexually, which can mean a behavior change and, for your female dog, their first season. If you plan on neutering your dog, then your vet can advise you on the best time to do so, if you hadn’t already discussed this during the initial consultation.