You’re Bringing Home a Puppy, Now What?
Spring is upon us! And with that, many people will be welcoming a new puppy into their home. As a new owner, or maybe even an experienced one - there are a number of factors to consider before introducing a puppy to your environment. It’s an exciting experience, but one you certainly want to prepare for in order to make the transition as easy as possible, for you and the puppy.
Puppies are hard work! But the work is rewarding. Before you think you’ve watched one too many YouTube videos on how to bring a puppy home, we have 5 tips for you to read. These tips will help establish you as a responsible dog owner and you will feel more prepared as the puppy enters your living space.
1. Puppy’s Require Time, Your Time: most people bring home a puppy when they are between 8-10 weeks of age. They’re just babies! This is also the first time they will be away from their mother and siblings, which is a transition in and of itself. It will be necessary to have at LEAST a few days off of work to get them settled in. You are new to them, and it will take some time for them to adjust to their surroundings. Obviously, taking some time off is the most ideal situation for them. Puppies should not be allowed to explore their new surroundings unsupervised. It is important to introduce them to a small area at first, with the intention to slowly expand their world. Set up a sleeping area (crate) and a play area. This area should be about 25 square feet at first. Guide the puppy on a leash whenever they are out of this safe area. Your puppy should not be allowed to roam without your supervision! They will shape behaviors based on what seems good to them and it is extremely likely they will find things to do that you will not like for them to do.
2. Crate Train Them, Day One: crate training is a behavior management tool. It will establish a comfortable place for them to be when they need it (or you need it). Like a crying baby, it can be easy to give way if your puppy doesn’t want to stay in their crate. Be diligent! It may take a few days, or weeks for them to settle in and adjust to spending time in their crate, but in the long run it will be to their benefit. A crate helps facilitate housetraining as well, and if done correctly, they will soon regard their crate as a safe space. Play games with your puppy around the crate. Try having the puppy perform a simple behavior like a sit in front of the crate then make the reward appear at the back of the crate inside. When the puppy goes in to eat the reward, reward them again for coming out. Repeat this a few times, then wait to see if the puppy gets the idea to go in on their own. Reward this behavior too until the puppy is going in and waiting for its reward. At this point try stacking a second behavior like a sit or a down inside the crate. Reward, reward, reward!
3. Stay Consistent, Practice Your Patience: It’s up to you to set the tone. Reward for good behavior. They don’t know all the rules yet and you can not allow your puppy to rehearse behaviors that are self-reinforcing that break the eventual rules you want to have. Behaviors you do not want to see as an adult should not be tolerated for your puppy. Keep your puppy on a leash in the house and manage them to guide them through the activities you want them to do. Provide lots of positives associated with these behaviors. It is important to never ignore behaviors you want the puppy to stop doing. Allowing them to rehearse biting, chewing on furniture, shoes and other personal items will only create habituation in the puppy. The more consistent you are, the more they will understand what is acceptable behavior or not. Having a routine set will help tremendously in this area!
4. Train Your Puppy, Form Their Behavior: training should start the moment you bring your puppy home. Again, it really is up to YOU, the owner to form and manage behaviors as well as begin to train your puppy. They are extremely impressionable. While it may be tempting to instill a hard core training regiment, refrain. You can train in short bursts throughout the day in order to keep them engaged and ALWAYS keep it fun. Training should be the most fun time of the dog’s life! Reward your puppy through games. Make it an event, not just a piece of food! Create a proactive puppy! Most of all train them to pay attention to you by paying them (with food) when they pay attention to you.
5. Consider Your Puppy’s Need For Individual Attention: and consider NOT bringing a second puppy into your home within a year. Litter-mate syndrome is a set of behavior problems that is often created when dog owners depend on a playmate to provide the social interaction for a puppy. Playmates often bond very closely with each other and while that seems attractive, in reality it seldom ends up creating the engaged, well trained adults we hope our dogs become. It usually looks like dogs that don’t listen or engage well with the humans in their lives and only seek social interaction with each other and often have a high degree of separation anxiety when apart.
Of course there are many, many other factors to consider when bringing home a puppy but we hope these few tips will help you as you care for, and welcome your new addition. Bringing home a puppy can sound like a lot of work, and it is! But it is your job to make the transition as easy as possible. It will be a fun, rewarding, and a joyous occasion!
If you are in need of assistance, our Puppy Foundations is a course designed to teach new puppies and new puppy handlers the basics of dog training. We focus on teaching our dogs a verbal marker based communication system. Handlers will learn how to properly lure the puppy into behaviors. And create lifelong habits that help shape a puppy into a great dog.
Contact us today to learn more about Audax and our Puppy Empowerment & Obedience Foundations course: (425) 239-0175