A few bits of advice to help those with a new puppy.
I’ve written several blogs on puppies and will probably write dozens more. Since new puppy owners don’t have tons of spare time, I thought I would put together a quick list of tips to help puppy owners during the first few special and challenging months with their gorgeous new pack member.
- Do your research and buy a puppy from a responsible preservation breeder with whom you can maintain a relationship with. We’ve all heard the saying “buy the best and you’ll only cry once.” I like to tell people that when they are looking for a puppy.* A responsible breeder is your best source of information for all things related to raising a puppy.
- Crate train your puppy and have a happier life! Crate training uses a dog’s natural denning instinct, makes housebreaking easier, keeps them safe and saves your valuables from damage. **
- Get an exercise pen (also known as an ex pen). An exercise pen is a foldable enclosure that is usually made of metal that will keep your puppy as well as your belongings safe while indoors or outdoors. Think of it like a play pen for puppies.
- Buy or borrow baby gates to restrict off limit areas while you are housebreaking your pup.
- Invest in high quality toys that will entertain your puppy while you’re away or busy. Rubber toys that are non-toxic and dishwasher safe with a hole to stuff with their favourite treats inside are a great tool to occupy a busy puppy and can help when they are teething.
- Socialize. Socialize. Socialize. Most experiences in your home and neighbourhood will be new to your puppy. Be sure to make their involvement in new situations positive by having treats ready, along with calm praise. Introduce them to people of all ages, including those wearing hats, those with beards and people who use mobility devices. Once vaccines are up to date, introduce them to a variety of well mannered, friendly and healthy dogs of all shapes and sizes.
- Enroll in a Puppy training class. Dogs not only need to learn how to heel and sit, but Puppy class also helps with their critical socialization period. Learning to play properly with other puppies and dogs, exposure to the physical world like shinny floor and umbrellas opening, practicing for a veterinary exam and much more. You’ll also get an experienced industry professional leading the classes and answering your questions.
- Show them what they CAN do. Redirect inappropriate behaviour towards an acceptable or desired behaviour. For example, if your puppy is chewing on your shoe, take away the shoe and encourage them to chew on one of their toys instead.
- While a tired puppy is generally a well behaved puppy – be careful not to overdo it with a young pup. Keep exercising and play sessions with a puppy relatively short but frequent. Avoid vigorous exercise such as jogging and jumping until their bones strengthen (about 18 months of age but varies amongst breeds).
- Since a puppy’s bones are soft, it’s important to monitor her on the stairs to make sure they aren’t running down them too fast. Don’t allow your puppy to jump off high furniture or from vehicles at this age either.
- Remember that a new puppy can need 18 or more hours of sleep, so make sure they are getting their naps. Especially if there are older, active dogs in the home.
- While it’s important to bring your puppy with you lots of places in order to socialize them – they need to learn to be on their own at times as well. Start by leaving them in their crate with a safe toy in another room for 10 -15 minutes. Make your comings and goings uneventful as to not excite your puppy in either situation. Eventually start to leave your puppy alone in the crate when you leave your home. Remember that your puppy’s bladder is still developing so the most you can leave a puppy alone for at 10 -12 weeks is about 2 hours.
- When it comes to housetraining, there are certain times when a puppy is likely to have to go to the washroom – after eating or drinking, after waking up from sleeping and after playing in particular. Be ready to take them out at these times. The use of positive reinforcement is the most effective way to housetrain your puppy. Once your puppy has relieved themselves in the appropriate area – make a huge fuss over them with verbal praise, pets, scratches and a little treat – the works! Let them know that going to the washroom outside is the greatest thing a little puppy can do!
- Touch them all over. Getting them used to have their paws, tail, tummies touched is important in order to get them used to veterinary exams and grooming appointments.
- Start grooming early! There might not be much hair there, but begin to get your dog used to being brushed gently, the sound of a hair dryer, the sensation of getting their nails clipped and teeth brushed.
- Teach them a command that tells them to go into their crate. This is an important command that can get them safely out of the way whenever needed.
- Get them used to travelling by taking them on short car rides, safely in their crate. If you live in a city and use transit – get them used to buses, streetcars and subways if your jurisdiction allows it.
- Connect with other puppy owners preferably of the same breed if possible. Either in person or online. They will become both a great resource and support.
These are just a few of my tips for puppy owners. Cherish these moments with your little one as they pass in the blink of an eye.
Learn how to pre-puppy proof your home here: https://www.ckc.ca/en/The-Dish/October-2018/How-To-Pre-Puppy-Proof-Your-Home
*Learn more about responsible preservation breeders here: https://www.ckc.ca/en/The-Dish/March-2019/How-To-Spot-A-Responsible-Breeder
** Learn how to crate train your dog here: https://www.ckc.ca/en/The-Dish/August-2018/Creating-Crate-Success