There is nothing more fun than bringing home a bouncy ball of fuzz. It's hard not to love puppies---but it can sometimes be a challenge to get through typical puppy behaviours. Chewing, housetraining, and the 'puppy training blues' are all part of this exciting, scary, and very addictive rollercoaster we call dog ownership. Here are some tips to prepare you and your family for a new piranha--er, puppy--to make it the best experience possible.
Have supplies on hand well in advance - Make sure you have everything you need before the puppy comes home, so you can focus on keeping the puppy's first few days relaxed and organized. For a list of puppy essentials, see our Puppy Shopping List here: Supply List for Your Puppy
Puppy-proof your home - Puppies are very curious creatures and love to explore their environment, most especially by chewing. Make sure the following is out of reach: - Live plants - Electric cords - Paperwork (puppies love to shred) - Small items such as paperclips, pins, earrings, etc. Inspect the floor regularly and keep it swept/vacuumed. - Cardboard boxes--another thing puppies love to destroy. - Small animals - Chemicals such as bleach, antifreeze, and paint. - Stair cases, vents, balconies, etc. Any place they could fall off of or get trapped in.
Research, research, research! - There is always more to learn. As adorable as they are, puppies can be frustrating, and it's critical to know exactly how their brains work so you can teach them in a way they will understand. I highly recommend watching videos, reading books, and even attending seminars to learn as much as you possibly can about bad behaviours and how to prevent and redirect them. Your puppy will thank you. I recommend the following resources: - Zak George's Dog Training Revolution (YouTube channel & book) - Puppy Culture (DVDs) - Positively Dog Training by Victoria Stilwell (website, YouTube, and book) - When Pigs Fly Dog Training (book)
Set aside time for the new arrival - The first few days are incredibly scary for a young puppy. This is his/her first time away from their littermates and mother. If possible, take a few days off of work to help your puppy settle into the family. There will also be a few noisy, and sometimes sleepless nights if the puppy cries during the night. Building a solid foundation for this puppy is essential. They will need some time to get used to the new schedule, to learn to go outside, adjust to their new family members, etc., and it is much easier when he/she has someone home to guide them through it.
Choose a vet and make an appointment for your puppy's first vet check - Having a solid relationship with a veterinarian is crucial.
Find a Positive Reinforcement trainer in your area -
At last, the puppy is home! .... NOW what?
Keep your cool - The calmer you are, the calmer your puppy is. Give him/her lots of love, chin scratches, cuddles, etc. Don't move things too fast. Play classical Mozart. Let them take their time and adjust.
Take pictures - Silly, perhaps, but years from now you will want memories of your very first day together. Your puppy will never be this young ever again and they grow up much too fast!
Bed time - Withhold food and water for at least one hour before you plan to put the puppy to bed. Make sure your puppy urinates/defecates first and give them 30-60 minutes to run, play, and get those wiggles out. For another 10 minutes or so, start to calm things down by offering thing a Kong toy with a few treats inside (not too many, you don't want them to need to potty during the night), do a small training session to work their mind, carry them around the house and rock them slowly, etc. You want their heart rate to slow down, their muscles to relax, and for them to feel tired enough to go to sleep fairly quickly. Once it's time to put them in the kennel, toss a yummy chew, such as a raw bone or roll of salmon skin, into their kennel and let them enter by their own will. There will inevitably be fussing and whining for a bit, but don't give in. The puppy must learn that bed time is bed time, and that whining and barking doesn't get them what they want. The puppy will need to be kennelled for bed time until he/she is housetrained and can hold it during the night. Nobody wants to roll over in a warm puddle at 3 AM!
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