Are you getting a puppy for the first time?! As a breeder and trainer I work with many families who have not raised a puppy before. Here are some tips that myself and other veteran dog owners have learned from experience and want to pass along to you!
- Be generous with your affection: One of the best ways to build a good relationship with your dog is to bond with them by showing affection. Take time each day to snuggle, hug, pet, and tell your puppy they are a “good dog.”
- Give them lots of exercise: A key to a happy dog is to be sure they get plenty of exercise. I’ve found that if I really run my dog around for the time they need, they are a much happier and well behaved dog the rest of the time. Most “difficult” dog behaviors arise from them not getting enough exercise–biting, chewing, digging, barking. I’ve heard it said many times that puppies need about five minutes of exercise per month old they are at a time. Most puppies go home around 8-9 weeks old so they will start off needing about 10-15 minutes of exercise at a time when you first get them home. You may also want to look into a good potty training schedule
- Get your dog indoor entertainment: They don’t need too much but getting them appropriate chew toys while they are teething will help them not use your couch! Here are some Indoor Dog Activity ideas!
- Say “yes,” show “no” : When you puppy does something good, like go potty outside, give them lot’s of verbal affirmation! “Yes!” “Good Puppy!” etc. However, if they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing, simply move them to do what you would like them to do. For example, if they go potty in the house, don’t yell at them. Simply pick them up and take them out for a chance to go potty and clean up the mess quietly. If bite you, don’t yell at them–instead get up from playing with them or put them down and ignore them (including no eye-contact) for about ten minutes.
- Be consistent: Dogs thrive on routine! Get your puppy on a schedule and stick to it! Here is The Best Schedule for Potty Training Your Puppy. Reinforce the rules and stick to them!
- Be patient: It is important to be patient and realistic when getting a puppy. There will be accidents inside the house, there will be barking in the crate, there will be chewing on everything! Training a puppy is hard work and it takes patience. But with time, consistency, and love, you are going to have a great puppy! A few weeks of late night potty breaks and scheduling will lead to a lifetime of a happy and trained dog. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Make sure they are getting proper nutrition: Good stuff in=good stuff out! It is heartbreaking to hear stories from so many families about the health issues their past dogs have dealt with–not to mention it can be expensive! One key is to find a breeder who only breeds tested dogs. The other is key is to provide them with a healthy diet. Just like humans, dogs can benefit from a good vitamin. Studies have shown that puppies fed an antioxidant supplement have exhibited a drastic increase in immune function compared to those on a standard diet. For their daily dog food I recommend Life’s Abundance All Stages Dog Food. This company is amazing and only use real ingredients. They have never had any products recalled and have brilliant auto-ship program!
- Ask for help: Getting a puppy and training them is time consuming and hard work! Rather than pulling your hair out–see if others can help! You will find most people are eager to help with a cute ball of fluff! First, see if you breeder offers a Puppy Kindergarten Program–where they do the first week of crate training and potty training. This will give you a head start and is helpful in transitioning your puppy home. Once home, you can also look into Obedience Training courses in your area. A licensed trainer can really make a difference! If you work during the day, see if you can ask a neighbor or hire someone to take your puppy for walks or send your puppy to puppy daycare. There is no need to come home to your house chewed up or your puppy bored out their mind. The last way to ask for help is to read up on expert and tested trainers. My favorite book as been the Monks of New Skete. Their philosophy on training is so helpful and they focus on training in a way that encourages you and your pup to be best friends–as it should be!
- Be prepared: The saying rings true for puppies too– “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.” Get all your supplies ahead of time. Your breeder may have recommendations for you but here is a check list of the basic items you’ll need.
- Breathe: Odds are, if you’ve read this far you deeply care about being a good dog parent. That right there is the most important thing needed when caring for a puppy. If you have seen this and had a desire to read it your heart is in the right place! Any surprises, joys or difficulties that will come with your puppy you can handle with an open heart. You got this!!
Congratulations on becoming a dog parent!!!