Puppies are without a doubt some of the most adorable things on the planet. Parenting a new puppy, however, is no walk in the park. It can be really exciting and lots of fun, but also rather stressful, both for the puppy and for you as owner. Bringing a new puppy home takes lots of preparation, work and patience, plus a good dose of common sense. The good news is that if you do it right, it will be a wonderful experience. Read on to learn more about how to handle a new puppy.
How to handle a new puppy
When you bring home a new puppy it is of course very important that the puppy feels safe, welcome and comfortable in your house. Equally important, though, is the prevention of undesirable behaviors and bad habits. The first few days are extremely important. Your new puppy has just been taken away from his mom and is maybe vulnerable and insecure. It is, therefore, important that you provide security and routine right from the beginning. There’s no doubt, of course, that the first few weeks with a new puppy can be stressful and exhausting. That tiny bundle of fur that was so cute at the breeder’s home, the animal shelter, or in the pet store may have some behaviors that drive you crazy. The good news is that these behaviors are normal for dogs and if the house-training goes smoothly and relatively quickly, the nipping, biting and chewing on furniture and clothing can be held to a minimum or stopped.
Make sure everyone is on the same page
First of all, discuss the house rules with your whole family before you bring home a new puppy. Figure out who will do what when, and stick to the plan! Pick one set of training cues and stick with them.
Puppy-proof your home
You’ll need to puppy-proof the area where the youngster will spend most of his time the first few months. This means taping loose electrical cords to baseboards, storing household chemicals on high shelves, and removing plants, rugs, and breakables. Once you think you’ve completely puppy-proofed, lie on the floor and look around once more to get a puppy’s-eye view.
Since puppies are very impressionable, it is important to begin explaining the rules right away. Don’t let your new family member get away with anything just because it is a tiny, cute, little puppy. If you allow your pup to have his way about certain things now, he will only be confused later when you decide to change the rules. Puppies learn very quickly with proper instruction.
Don’t let enthusiasm and emotions ruin the house-training. When a new pup joins the family it may happen that everyone wants to feed the puppy, play with the puppy and hold the puppy, and pre-established rules are then easily broken. Everyone in the family agreed that the puppy sleeps in the crate but as soon as he’s home, someone melts and suddenly your new puppy is sleeping in a bed. If this happens more than once, bringing your pup back to the crate can be quite a battle. Be consistent (even when those big puppy eyes are looking at you).
Making your puppy comfortable with the sleeping arrangement is one of the biggest challenges of bringing home a new puppy, and you should already have bedding and a sleeping space in mind. The first thing to consider is making a place where the puppy will not feel isolated. This can be a challenge, though! If it’s your puppy’s first night away from its mother and littermates it may be a good idea to make the sleeping place near your bed, for the first few nights, to help your pup feel less lonely. Being close to you gives the puppy a sense of security and safety. However, it’s probably best if you do not take the puppy into bed with you – especially if you want to avoid that later on. Your dog may not understand that he’s suddenly not allowed to sleep in your bed. If you plan to use a kennel or crate, wait until the puppy is in a calm submissive and relaxed state before closing him in. It is important that he doesn’t feel trapped and that he’s comfortable with the sleeping arrangements.
Toys and entertainment
Try to provide toys and other entertainment that your puppy is familiar with, both to help to keep him occupied and to help him feel more at home. A range of things to play with will make him feel positive, comfortable and happy about the new environment.
You are the pack leader
Of course, your puppy needs exercise too! It is your job to make sure that your puppy uses his energy in a productive way. For all dogs, this means a daily walk. Walking in front of your new puppy allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your puppy should be beside or behind you during the walk.
Obedience & bathroom routine
By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. In addition, obedience training will help forge a stronger bond between you and your puppy. Teaching your pup to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will, additionally, help keep your safe and under control in any potentially dangerous situations.
Toilet training should start as soon as your puppy gets home. Puppies urinate frequently and success in toilet-training depends on anticipating their needs – they should be given the opportunity to relieve themselves at least every two hours. You can usually tell when a puppy ‘wants to go’ because he or she will look around anxiously, walk in circles and start sniffing in suitable corners looking for a place. That’s your cue to take your pet outside. If you don’t want your pup pooping all over the yard as an adult, pick one area and take him directly there when it’s potty time – each time!
Love, care & socialization
A new puppy needs lots of love and cuddling, rest and sleep, lots of good, nourishing food and then…more love! Moving to a new home, leaving his mom and littermates is a very difficult experience for a puppy, so try to make the move as easy as possible for him. Give him time with you and your family, and give him the feeling of being safe and secure in his new home. During the early weeks and months, it is also a good idea to introduce your puppy to a variety of sights, sounds, people and experiences. Let him meet adults and children, the postman and other visitors, and let him approach them in his own time. A well socialized puppy will be able to cope with all of the situations he’s likely to encounter in later life, rather than growing up shy or fearful.
Last but not least…
Give your dog a vet-check as soon as possible. If there’s something wrong, the vet can catch it early and get it before it becomes a big problem. It also gives you a chance to talk with the vet about what it takes to raise a puppy, like feeding, vaccinations, the financial aspect of owning a pet, and everything else you may need to know as a dog owner. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet every question that comes to mind. When it comes to the life of your pet, you can’t ask too many questions ♥
Do you have any experience with how to handle a new puppy? Please share your do’s and don’ts.