6 Indispensable Tips for New Puppy Owners

Welcoming a puppy into your family is by far one of life’s greatest adventures.

All of a sudden, you’ve got this tiny creature to care for and life is good- until you realize that you have no idea what to do. From how (and why) to set up a puppy perimeter to the importance of a routine, we’ve put together a list of lesser-known but truly key tips to making the transition to life with puppy a seamlessly sensational one.

Crate/Kennel Train

To the uninitiated, a crate may seem cruel. Caging your sweet puppy probably isn’t what you had in mind when you pictured welcoming him into your life. However, when used properly, crates become a safe haven for dogs, a spot for them to retreat when things get overwhelming and a comforting bed where they can relax and re-energize. Prior to bringing your puppy home, purchase and set up a crate that is size-appropriate. Several manufacturers offer customizable options which allow you to widen the space as your puppy grows. Add a soft pad, a few cozy toys, and you’re good to go. You and your puppy will be grateful for this space, especially in instances when you can’t watch him or need to step out.

Co-Sleep

Even if you don’t plan on having your dog sleep in your bedroom, consider making the first few nights an exception. The transition to a new home is a tough one, especially if your puppy has only ever known life with his litter mates. Setting up the crate by your bed allows you to comfort your puppy if he’s whimpering and gives him a sense of security from knowing that you’re nearby. Once a level of trust and routine has been established, you’ll find that you’ll be able to transition your puppy to whichever space you’ve decided will be his. But don’t over think it at first, just focus on easing the shift for both of you.

Establish a Routine

Dogs, like humans, tend to thrive on a schedule. Having some sort of sense of what’s coming next and an understanding as to what is happening at any given time tends to provide a sense of comfort and trust. While no one is encouraging you to become a slave to a prohibitively strict itinerary, it’s always a good idea to try to establish a little consistency. For instance, start the day by bringing your puppy outside, followed by breakfast. He’ll quickly realize that doing his business means meal time is imminent, making him less likely to dawdle. Aim to go on walks around the same time each day so that your puppy realizes that they’re a guarantee and he doesn’t have to worry. Soon you should notice that your puppy will start to develop his own routine and fall into more predictable patterns which tend to be beneficial for all parties involved.

©istockphoto/SVPhilon

©istockphoto/SVPhilon

Create A Puppy Perimeter

A new space can be overwhelming to a small puppy, especially when there are all sorts of boundaries that he can’t possibly understand. Before bringing your new family member home, decide where you’d like him to spend the bulk of his time so that he has the freedom to explore without the risk of getting hurt or accidentally damaging one of your most prized possessions. The kitchen seems to be a popular spot as it’s often the centre of the household which means plenty of socialization and the flooring is often conducive to the inevitable accident. Set up his kennel (unless you plan on sharing your bedroom for the long term), a soft bed or sleeping pad, food and water dishes, and toys and ensure that you block off any potential escape points with a baby gate or by closing doors.

Be A Hands-On Owner

One of the biggest favours you can do for yourself and your puppy is get him used to being handled as much as possible. Whether it’s because he’s going to be spending a lot of time with children or in preparation for vet and grooming appointments, a puppy who is used to being touched is going to be a lot calmer as a grown dog. Make a habit of touching his paws, mouth, and tail (gently, of course) so that he’s not caught off guard and occasionally get in the way of his meal by touching him while he eats. This helps avoid food aggression which is critical.

Nip Bad Habits in the Bud

It’s undeniably sweet to snuggle up on the couch with your 12 lb puppy but will you feel the same way when he’s tipping the scales at 100 lbs? If you don’t anticipate allowing your puppy to carry out certain behaviours throughout adulthood, don’t let them become habits in the first place. This tends to be harder on the owner than the dog but it’s important to follow through. Establishing firm guidelines in the beginning make for easier transitions later in life and will save both you and your puppy a lot of frustration. Decide early on what your policies will be concerning dogs on the furniture, where puppy sits in the car, how food is handled, and which areas are off limits and stick to your guns, no matter how cute your little one may look. You’ll be grateful for this later and so will your dog.

Meet the Author: Kate Walker

Who is Kate Walker? She's a freelance writer, yoga addict, animal lover and citizen of the concrete jungle. When not on the mat, Kate can be found at the dog park or on the dock in Muskoka. She is also pretty fond of running, skiing, and Settlers of Catan.

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