One of the most exciting adventures for everyone in a family is adopting a puppy. Whether or not the first week or so is enjoyable or stressful depends on being properly prepared for it. If you have children, don’t forget to teach them what the rules for the new puppy will be and that you are relying on them to help train this puppy.
Follow the steps below, and you will have a new family member everyone will enjoy for a long time.
- Supplies Needed Before You Bring Puppy Home
- Puzzle toys that can be stuffed with food (like a Kong) are especially good
- Puppy Chow and treats. You should purchase a high-quality brand that isn’t packed with grain fillers. Good options for treats would be lean meat like turkey or chicken breast and cheese. Meat, potato and squash baby food is always enjoyed.
- You will want something to confine your new puppy for those times you can’t supervise him. An X-pen or baby gate may do the trick for you.
- Chewies will come in handy. Pig’s ears or bully sticks work well. Rawhide and plastic can pose choking difficulties and tummy trouble and should be avoided.
- Of course, you will need a harness and leash. You should never use a prong collar, e-collar or choke collar for any puppy or dog. Retractable leashes should also be avoided.
- Enroll in a Puppy Class
There may be a waitlist for puppy ‘manners’ classes so sign up for one as soon as you can. A class like this will provide a good learning environment for your puppy to be taught how to behave appropriately with other dogs and people.
- ID Tags, Collar and Microchip
You are going to love this puppy, so prepare for his safety by ensuring they have proper identification. On-site tag making is offered by many pet supply stores.
Your tag should contain your dog’s name and your last name, your address, e-mail address, and phone number. Including your vet’s phone number may also be a good idea. Your vet can microchip your puppy during your first visit and tell you how to register the chip.
- Start Using a Harness and Leash
Use of a harness and leash will seem extremely restrictive to your puppy at first. They are best introduced in stages to desensitize your puppy.
- Start by simply showing it to your pup and rewarding him for just looking at it. Once they are happy to see the harness, you can move on to the next step.
- Slip it over his head, reward him, then remove it. Once they are happy or have a neutral reaction, move to the next step.
- Now you can buckle it when you have it on, using treats again.
- If your pup tries to bite it, wiggle it in front of him. If he doesn’t go for it tell him ‘Yes’ and reward him. Repeat until he has no objections to the harness and leash.
- Help Your Puppy Get Comfortable With Poking and Prodding
You will want to get your pup ready for all the necessary vet visits they will need during the first few months.
Using treats to reward them, open his mouth, touch his ears, hold each paw and lift his tail. Tell them “Yes” each time you touch one of these areas, followed up with a treat.
Get him used to being restrained. In addition to getting him used to a leash, you should also prepare for the vet by holding him close and carrying him. You might also try wrapping him in a towel as some vets will use this to help keep him still.
- Leave Puppy Alone
Your puppy may have never been alone in his short life and it is crucial to a happy future that he learn to be alone.
Leave him in his confinement space for short periods starting the first day. Five minutes is enough, but you must leave the house completely. Leave him a KONG packed with yummy treats just before you walk out the door.
It’s normal for there to be some barking or whining. Be patient and wait until there is a break in his complaining and then quickly come back in. Do not return if he is barking or whining or he will learn that it is a good way to get you to come back.
Keep increasing the length of time you leave him alone.
- Play to Train
Training can begin through play. Rope toys and plush toys will teach your puppy impulse control if you only allow him to have it when he has all four feet on the floor. Hide it behind your back if he doesn’t.
Teach him to ‘drop it’ by trading him one toy for another or exchanging a toy for a treat.
Teach him to ‘leave it’ by asking him to ‘leave it’ and covering the toy with your hand. Wait until he turns away, then reward him by giving him the toy.
You will, of course, want to teach him to come when you call. Say his name, (Spot, come) in a happy voice while you quickly back away from him. Reward him when you stop moving. Progress to a kind of ‘hide-and-seek’ game either in an enclosed yard or in the house.
Socialization is very important. But, a word of caution! If he hasn’t had all his vaccinations, do not let him greet unfamiliar dogs. It is important to begin careful socialization even before he has had all his shots and can’t walk around outside. Carry him in your arms, a stroller or a bag or by sitting in a public space, perhaps on a blanket, to watch the world he will eventually join. Reward him when strangers stop, and he behaves appropriately.
Expose him to darkness, rain or snow; children of all ages; rides in the car; the noise of traffic; skateboards and bikes and elderly or disabled people with walkers, crutches and wheelchairs.
Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, he won’t be able to interact with most dogs. After the second shots, you can look for a playgroup run by a dog trainer that is specifically for puppies of the same age as yours.
- Basic Training
The sooner you begin teaching your puppy the basic cues like sit, stay, down and go to bed, the better. You can hire a private trainer, take a class or handle it on your own with a good instruction manual.