I admit it, once you have your hands on that puppy, it is hard to resist. That soft fur, those big eyes, that sweet puppy breath! What could this little baby do wrong in the world?
Fast forward 3-4 months (this is usually when folks are calling for help). That puppy is 2 or 3 times its size. His teeth are still razor sharp, but now he uses them with gusto. Nipping your hands, nipping your clothes, nipping your nose! They are also good for shredding rugs, bedding and socks! He is still having “accidents” that seem a little premeditated. The joy of puppy ownership has diminished.
Getting a new puppy is so exciting, but is also a big responsibility. After all, this puppy will likely be a part of your family for the next 10 years.
Good news! You can set yourself up for success with a little research and learning. Here’s how:
Before you bring your puppy home, go online and read up on the breed characteristics and what to expect. If you are getting a puppy from a shelter or rescue, ask questions of them about expected size and temperament (as best as they can tell you). Really think through what fits in with your family and lifestyle. Do you have children? Are you physically active or like to get cozy on the couch? Are you gone a lot?
Once you have thought all this through, make a game plan for your new routine. Oh yes, there will be a new routine! For those first 3 or 4 months, that puppy will rule when you leave the house and when you come home. They will rule whether you go away for the weekend or not. It’s nothing you can’t handle, just be aware and get your game plan together. You may need to arrange for someone to come in throughout the day and let the pup out or feed them. Where will the puppy sleep? What parts of the house will they be allowed? And so on.
Read everything you can on training your new pup. Not just potty training (although, that will be at the top of your list), but starting to train the behaviors you want your pup to have when they are a grown up dog. Now is the time! Just like children, they are very moldable at this age. Start teaching them to follow you. Teach them to accept a leash. Do this in the house! Let your puppy drag a leash when they are being supervised and take them from room to room with you. This teaches them to follow you, but also you will have them in your site with a way to get quick access to them if needed. When you can’t watch them, crate them up (for their safety and your sanity).
You can also start now to teach them to come when called. Puppies love food more than anything! Use that to your advantage and take some of their daily kibble and use it like treats to get them to come to you. Then they will grow up associating coming when called with a pleasant thing. Later you can give praise and petting instead of food.
And for heaven’s sake, socialize, socialize, socialize! Don’t be afraid to have your puppy get all the experiences he can. Meet lots of people! Play with lots of dogs (not dog park, puppy play group)! Take him to different places. Use good judgement as far as keeping your pup healthy, but this is for their mental health!
Puppies are so much fun 🙂 and so much work 🙁 but totally worth it. Remember, you’re raising the dog you want them to become, so hang in there!
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