Tips for new puppy owners - stuff no one told you that you really need to know
I wish someone had told me....
Congratulations! You've just brought home your first dog! You may have grown up with one or more dogs, but this is the first dog you've chosen and he's your responsibility.
There are oodles of things that experienced dog owners know and assume are part of every dog owner's vocabulary. As the co-owner of a dog-products shop, I meet people almost every day who are overwhelmed by being new-dog owners. They need some help in getting their lives back on course and setting a good course for their new life with their puppies.
Only call your dog for "fun" stuff
You've seen it many times, in movies and sit-coms on tv, perhaps even in "real" life. Somebody calls his dog and the dog runs in the opposite direction. Hilarity ensues as the person tries to catch the faster, smaller, more agile dog.
It's not very funny if you're the one calling the dog. Avoid the problem entirely. Have your dog come to you happily every time you call his/her name.
How do you achieve this seemingly-miraculous behavior? Always do something your dog enjoys when you call him to you. Give him a treat, play with a toy, wrestle with her. Your dog will run to you if every single time you call, the dog gets to do something fun.
Never call your dog for something he/she doesn't like: bath, ear cleaning, nail trimming, etc. If it's time for these necessary tasks, or anything the dog doesn't enjoy - go get the dog. Just calmly get his collar and leash and go get him. Put on the collar and calmly say "come on, let's clean you up" or whatever.
In other words - make a big deal out of the fun stuff. And no deal at all out of the not-so-fun stuff.
Puppies belong with you
My very first trainer had a great saying: "Dogs are not kitchen appliances." It hit home - at the time, we really thought it was a good idea to confine the dog to the kitchen.
In fact, it's a terrible idea. If you're crate-training your dog (which you should, because it's the best and easiest way to housebreak a dog), you can easily move the crate around the house so even if you can't actively watch the dog, she can be in the same room and see you.
Your puppy's first night in your home is often the first time the puppy's been alone in its life. Think how frightening it must be to move someplace new, with people you've just met, and then be expected to spend the night alone in a dark, place you've never been. Of course a puppy would cry.
Why not make everyone's life easier and bring the puppy's crate into your bedroom? Even better, raise it up (on a very sturdy surface) so the puppy can see you. And leave a little light on so your new family member knows he's not alone. Why not make everyone's life easier?
Carry him outside
In the morning, after a (hopefully) restful night, your puppy will have to go potty. Urgently. Pull on your pants, grab your puppy, and carry her outside, directly to her "potty spot." If you have a fenced yard, you're golden. If you live in an apartment, grab the pup's harness and leash on the way out and put them on while you're in the elevator/running down the stairs/hustling out the front door.
Praise that puppy to the skies when he eliminates in the right place. Even if he didn't have a choice. Especially if he didn't have a choice. Puppies who don't have any opportunity to be naughty grow up confident, knowing the rules of the house, and everyone's happier.
Puppy Bowl - "Really Freaking Cute!"
Naked in the house
Unfortunately, you shouldn't make your life a little easier by leaving a harness/collar on your puppy.
It can catch on edges and choke her. She can chew on it and choke. Or she could eat it and require an immediate, and costly, trip to the emergency veterinarian for surgery.
I know you want to be a responsible dog owner and have identification on your dog at all times, but it's not worth it. Get the puppy microchipped and register the chip. Any veterinarian should be able to do it, or ask at a local animal shelter.
Puppies can be little tyrants
If you let him, your new puppy will be happy to run your life.
He would like your complete attention 24 hours a day. He will cry when he doesn't have it and he will nip at you, bark at you, and whine. He's pretty much the same as a bratty two-year-old. Dog people will almost all admit that there would be no reason to get a puppy if: a) they weren't so cute and b) you want a puppy trained your own way.
Training your puppy to be a delightful member of the family takes patience, consistency, and a sense of humor. Set rules and stick to them. Your puppy really doesn't want to be the one in charge - but he'll step into the role if no one else is filling it.
And when you get sick and tired of your puppy - go ahead and put him in his crate, cover it, and take 20 minutes for yourself. Don't feel guilty. You'll appreciate your puppy's adorableness more if you're not resenting his demands on your time.
Tricks of the trade
When you do want some time for yourself, or you have errands to run, or a living to earn, here is a trick that will make your life easier.
Get a dog toy that's hollow, with holes at both ends. (The holes are so suction doesn't trap the dog's tongue.) There are many available today - Kongs are best-known, although there are others. Stuff the toy with a treat - something the dog will take a while to finish.
Our favorites are the frozen treats we make ourselves with the SafeMade Treat Tray. We mix yogurt, peanut butter, some carrot, sweet potato, or other baby food, and a bit of kibble. Fill the tray, freeze it for a couple of hours. Pop the treats out and save in a plastic bag in the freezer, or use immediately, stuffing one inside the dog's toy.
Give the puppy this special treat only when you're going to leave her for a while. If it's something she loves, she'll learn to run into her crate and not even notice you've gone. Dog experts have said that if your dog is quiet for the first 15 minutes you're gone, she's good for the duration.
Before you get your puppy - the first four weeks of a puppy's life
© 2014 HopeS
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