Whether you’ve just brought home your newest family member or you have yet to pick out that perfect dog for you, getting a new puppy is a fun and exciting experience that involves a lot of time and research to ensure that you know what is to come in the first few months as a new pet parent. If you’re planning to get a dog and are undecided on what breed and where to adopt from, see our previous article here.
Even the most experienced dog owners will find puppyhood an exciting time filled with unexpected challenges and learning experiences. Don’t worry; there’s an abundance of online and offline help to help raise your puppy and make the transition easy for it to come into your home.
To help you, we’ve put together some important tips for getting or preparing for a new puppy in your life.
10 Must-Know Tips For New Puppy Owners
Puppy Proof Your House
You should prepare for a puppy’s arrival just like you would do with a human baby. What we mean by this is puppy proofing your house. Puppies are at a unique time when they are still learning about the world and don’t know what behaviour is bad and good.
This means they are curious and love to explore their surroundings by scent and taste. Uh oh! You may already be starting to understanding what we mean by this. If anything is lingering or left around your house, your puppy my excitedly investigate.
The last thing you want is your puppy biting on loose cables, cords or wires in your house. Trust us, them getting electrocuted is the last thing you want! Similarly, do you really want to take them to the vet as soon as you brought them home?
It does not just apply to loose wires either; expect anything left out and accessible to end up in your pup’s mouth. You should also be mindful of any medicines or pill packets lying about; you should also store them in a medical cupboard.
Similarly, suppose you have any foods or products which contain toxic substances like xylitol, such as chocolates, cleaning products such as bleach, ammonia, poisonous plants and anything else that’s hazardous. In that case, you should store them out of the way.
Finally, you should note when raising any dog; they LOVE to chew! Their prime time for chewing is between 4-6 months old. To help with their teething habits, you can bring chew toys into your home or even use homemade remedies.
Some ideas freeze a broth and make it into ice cubes for them to chew/suck on. You can even freeze their toys! Simply by them both being cold, it will create a challenge for them and relieve gum pain when their teeth are growing.
You can’t go and bring a puppy into your house without being prepared! We mean by this getting toys, bedding, pet food, collar, dog shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, treats, nail clippers and much more. If you have the essentials there, it saves you time panicking or worrying about leaving your puppy on their own to get the supplies.
While getting a puppy is an exciting time, you need to make sure your children are supervised if there’s any in the home. A puppy will need some time to rest during this transition period as they get exhausted quite easily. Because of this, you should limit the time they play with a puppy to 10-15 minutes.
Have you ever been to an unfamiliar place, and you’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it? If you can relate to this, just think about how puppies feel. From the moment you bring them home from the breeder or shelter, they can be filled with excitement to explore.
However, if you’ve not to puppy-proofed all areas, it may be dangerous and a little overwhelming. One great way is to slowly introduce it to areas in your home and establish boundaries from an early age.
You can do this by getting a fence or a baby gate and restricting them to certain areas of your home. It’s best to show them the bigger areas before giving them complete freedom. When doing this, consistency is key to ensure that they know the areas to keep clear of.
This is a proactive way to limit potential accidents/disasters, such as your dog getting into harmful food scraps in the garbage. Don’t wait for your puppy to do something wrong before you begin teaching it what is right. One great way of ensuring that they stay in the same place is to reinforce their good behaviour with a treat or a toy.
Establish A Routine
If you aren’t familiar with dogs, let us tell you they love to stick to a routine. Therefore as a dog owner, it’s best to make sure you stick to similar times when feeding them, playing with them, taking them to the bathroom and putting them to sleep.
If you don’t stick to a routine, it can cause them undue stress, and it can be hard for them to become disciplined. Plus, it can be very beneficial to help training manners and expectations for your dog.
Similarly, you can ask your dog to sit and wait before giving them their food. Alternatively, put them in their bed and ask for a stay every time the doorbell rings. Establishing these routines and expectations early on will set you and your puppy up for the future. Here are some of our dog training tips.
Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
We cannot stress enough how important socialization is for your dog and the prime period for doing this is between the first 6-12 weeks of their life. During this time, your dog will be learning about all the new and exciting things in their lives.
Socialization takes a lot of consistency and patience, but we can assure you it gets worth it as they get older. During this time, they learn to decide for themselves what is safe and fun versus scary. Proper socialization can prevent all sorts of anxieties from developing. You may find some information on socialization in a new puppy owner guide, but to give you an insight, here are some basic tips:
- Fun experience: If the puppy feels like they are being forced, they may feel intimidated and back up. Similarly, they may display aggressive tendencies like barking or develop fear. Therefore it’s essential to go at their pace and be patient.
- Socialization includes generalization: Though your puppy may be fine with the toddlers or dogs in your home, that does not mean they are fine with all children and dogs. Even if they are in a class, they will need to meet new and different dogs and people, and in different places, after their classmates and owners become familiar with them. You need to continue to expose them to new things, places, and contexts to best generalize their confidence with new things.
- Pair treats with exposures to make good association: If your puppy is worried about those children he sees running across the street, it can help if the sight of children makes treats suddenly appear. Or, if they don’t like their paws touched, a brief touch followed by a lick of peanut butter from a spoon can make paw touches easier to handle. If they will not take food, that is a good indication that you need to back up and lower the intensity of the exposure with more distance or less pressure.
Get Your Puppy Used To Be Handled
As a dog owner, you must use different ways on Handling your puppy. They need to be familiar with your touch in case an emergency situation does arise, like a medical emergency. Plus, it will make their grooming experience much easier!
The best way to do this is by keeping handling sessions short and sweet, full of rewards. Similarly, during the handling period, it’s good to show them not to use their tongue, not teeth. This will also lessen the risk of your adult dog biting children or adults who might play too rough with them. Refer to our socialization checklist for more suggestions
Enroll in Group Training classes
While it can be economical and handy to teach your puppy yourself basic commands, there are many benefits group classes hold. Plus, depending on the temperament of your puppy, it may be easier to have someone else train them.
First of all, group classes are a fantastic way to socialize your new puppy. Before you enroll a puppy into group classes, you will most likely need to make sure they’ve had their second shot. This is to ensure the safety of your puppy and others around them.
In these sessions, you will meet a trainer who will help teach you the basics of canine body language and appropriate play. Besides the social aspect, group classes also help teach your puppy to pay attention to you during distracting times.
As a dog owner, there will be times when you can’t be in your home, and it’s important your puppy needs to be comfortable on its own. Therefore try to limit the behaviour of your puppy following you to each room. If you don’t practice separation or incorporate techniques from an early age, they can easily develop separation anxiety. Plus, they can start to develop boredom habits such as chewing and barking.
To help separation, you will now want to puppy proof room or kennel where your puppy can have some alone time, then start with small steps. During this period, it’s good to spend five minutes in another room. It is a good place to start; wait until your puppy is quiet, then calmly let them out of their room/kennel. If your pup has a hard time settling on their own at first, giving them, a stuffed Kong can help distract them and reward them for their alone time.
Take lots of photos!
Puppy-hood is fleeting! They aren’t puppies for very long, so enjoy this amazing time and take photos of everything!
Where should your puppy sleep the first night?
On the first night, you will never want your puppy to sleep with you in bed. You mustn’t do this, especially while young, to develop a bad habit. The best thing to do is put them in a crate next to your bed for the first night and up to the following three weeks. Ideally, you should line the bottom of the crate with blankets and put a toy in there to make them feel comfortable. Plus, drape blankets over the top to allow it to feel secure.
Should I ignore puppy crying at night?
When you get a new puppy, you should never ignore its cries. When moving to a new environment, they could be upset they’re away from their family or even be indicating to you that they need the bathroom. Always pay attention and stay alert.
Should puppies sleep in the dark?
Ideally, you should be putting your puppy to sleep in the dark to encourage the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin allows your puppy to sleep well, and it helps regulate their sleep cycle. If your puppy does not like sleeping in the dark, you should use a nightlight.
What should I do when I get a new puppy?
Getting a new puppy is a stressful time, and you have to do a range of tasks to help you feel organized. Once you’ve got your puppy, you should ensure your home has been puppy-proofed. Then you should go about toilet training, vaccinations, microchipping, socialization, house training, exercise and nutrition.
How long can a puppy be left alone during the day?
Depending on your puppy’s age, you should never leave them alone for more than 2 hours a day. Otherwise, they could easily get separation anxiety, develop boredom chewing, barking and more.
What should you not do with a new puppy?
There are so many things you should not do with a new puppy. The first is taking the puppy home before it’s 8 weeks. If you do this and it’s not had sufficient bonding with its mother, you could put it at risk of not learning certain life skills. Similarly, you should not leave it till they grow up to train them, free feed them or scold them for bad behaviour.