Congratulations on your new 4-legged addition! There’s nothing much better than bringing home a cute little fluffy friend! While we’re quite certain you’re going to be a wonderful “puppy parent”, we thought we’d help you out by giving you a few tips to make the “parenting” transition a bit easier.
Prepare Your Home
Before you bring your new friend home, you need to make sure you’ve puppy-proofed your house. Make sure to remove any plants that are poisonous to dogs. If you’re not sure about a plant, don’t assume. Take the time to research it so your puppy doesn’t end up sick right off the bat. You also want to either make sure all electrical cords are out of your puppy’s reach or get electrical cord protectors, so they don’t chew on them. Invest in some durable chew toys that your puppy can chew on and that will withstand sharp little puppy teeth! Baby gates are great for blocking off areas of the house you don’t want your puppy to be in. If you contain your puppy to a certain room or area of the house, make sure they have a comfortable place to lay (bed, blanket, crate), a pee-pad to go potty, and some toys to keep them entertained so they don’t end up creating their own toys out of your valuables.
Get Your Puppy Vaccinated
Whether you got your puppy from a shelter, a pet store, or a breeder, you want to get your puppy checked out with your vet to make sure they are healthy and are up to date on their vaccinations. It’s recommended to keep your puppy away from other dogs, pet stores or dog parks until they are finished with their vaccination series, which is usually around 16 weeks, so they don’t catch any life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus. As much as you want to take your cute new friend to the pet store to buy supplies for them, keep your puppy safe by leaving them at home.
Introducing your puppy to new people, sounds, and objects is key to their development. You will want to start right away as the most crucial socialization “window of opportunity” closes at around 12-13 weeks of age. Have all your family members engage with the puppy during this time so they become used to everyone in the household. Introduce new sounds like the doorbell, vacuum, and hairdryer to them so they become familiar with the sounds and aren’t frightened by them. Have them walk on a variety of surfaces such as carpet, hardwood, grass, tile, dirt, concrete, etc. so they become familiar with all of them. You can introduce them to other dogs, but only if you are certain they are current on their vaccinations. Do not take them to the dog park to socialize until after they have finished their vaccination series as they are susceptible to diseases.
This is probably the least fun and most exhausting part of having a new puppy, but there are some ways you can make it easier for both you and your pup. The general rule of thumb is your puppy can “hold it” one hour for every month of age. So, if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it about two hours. Let your puppy out first thing in the morning and right before bedtime everyday to start establishing a routine. Having regular mealtimes will also help your puppy develop their own “potty schedule”. You will have to help your puppy in the beginning by taking them to the same spot every time and staying outside with them until they are finished. Make sure to reward them with a small treat to reinforce the good behavior.
Your puppy doesn’t know what rules you may have or what your expectations of them are. It’s up to you to train them so they know what to expect. Start with the five basic commands, come, sit, stay, lay down, and walking on a leash. Avoid punishing them if they don’t do something correctly, as it can cause confusion and uncertainty. Instead, use positive reinforcement when they do something correctly, either with praise, a treat, or both! Keep training sessions short – about 5 to 10 minutes – and always end on a positive note. Patience is key when it comes to training. As frustrating as it can be, try and stay calm as dogs can pick up on emotions. If you’re stressed out, your dog will be too!
The first few weeks of bringing your puppy home will be an adjustment period for both of you. Remember, they are in a brand-new foreign place and don’t know what to expect. The most important things are to make them feel like they are safe, shower them with lots of love and have FUN!