Top Tips for a New PuppyMaster@klab
With Christmas just a few steps behind us there are sure to be many new fluffy four-legged family members that have joined homes all over the UK. Putting aside the separate issue of giving puppies as gifts and especially around Christmas, this blog entry is about what to do now that you have the little fur ball.
Getting a puppy is an experience often compared with having a baby. Once the initial elation and joy passes, the hard cold reality of responsibility and work really hits home. While a puppy is MUCH less demanding than a new born human baby (both my sisters have just had babies…and it is relentless) and the road to relative independence is much quicker, the long term commitment, the dependence, the increase in time and energy spent on something else (the puppy) and the commitment you have to make to give your new charge the best life that you possibly can, bears some sort of resemblance to having a human baby.
From the moment your puppy comes home she will be watching and learning from everyone and everything she sees and she will continue to do so for the rest of her life. The first critical socialisation period of her life will take place in part, in her new home (the period starts at 5 weeks and continues until approximately 12 weeks old). This is your chance to mould her into the kind of dog you want her to be – friendly, confident, respectful, safe and balanced. Her training with you begins from the second she is handed over to you from what is hopefully a well reputed, well researched, respected and experienced breeder. If you aren’t willing to accept that fact then you may end up needing the services of someone like myself in the future to help fix the issues you have inadvertently caused during her youth.
I’ve pulled together some top tips to help you make smart decisions during that first year raising your puppy:
- Number 1 (and for a reason) the most important tip is to make sure you do what may seem like an unnecessarily large amount of research into what breed you want and where you will get your puppy from. A good, responsible breeder will help prepare your puppy for life in a human world and will start off the pup’s training for you, making the transition to her new home as well as your job in training her, much easier. They will also always offer their support and advice and be there for you throughout the length of your dog’s life. They would have carefully selected the dogs bloodline to make sure that the litters health is of utmost importance and will minimise the chances of perpetuating hereditary diseases such as eyes problems, bone and joint problems and temperamental issues such as aggression or shyness – none of this care or concern is probable or even likely with a pet-store, backyard breeder or puppy mill bought dog.
- Prepare your home and your family before the puppy’s arrival. Surprises are wonderful but there is a huge amount of preparation and planning that needs to go into bringing a puppy home and the first few weeks and months of her life with you. You have to ensure that you have someone available to be with the puppy at all times for the first few weeks at least in order to supervise, train and care for the puppy. You would ideally have the right sized crate set up in the area where your dog will be spending most of her day, along with warm blankets, toys, food and water bowls, a Kong (dumbbell shape), her food, a collar and lead and either a puppy pen or baby gates to restrict her access in your home and keep her separate from other dogs or animals in the house.
- Toilet training plan. This can be a very frustrating period for the owner if they are not fully prepared for the toilet training of their new puppy – it requires commitment and perseverance! Young puppies need to relieve themselves frequently and usually after eating, exercising, playing and waking up. They will also not be able to hold themselves through the night for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks or more, depending on the breed and individual. It’s important that someone is around at these times to supervise and take the puppy outside to do her business. Lots of praise should be given when she relieves herself outside and on the contrary, any accidents inside the home should be ignored and cleaned up quickly. Remembering that if she went in the house it is because you did not take her outside when you should have. Dogs are inherently clean animals and toilet training, if done consistently and accurately shouldn’t take more than a couple of weeks with few accidents in between.
- Have a socialisation plan. Socialising your new puppy during the first few weeks she is with you should be your main priority. Socialisation doesn’t mean going out and making new friends (though that is part of it), but rather getting your puppy used to everything she is expected to tolerate in her environment and surroundings during her life with you. That includes normal household noises like the vacuum cleaner to sitting quietly at the pub, walking along a busy street, being around children or the elderly, calmly greeting visitors, riding in the car or hanging around your horses stables – whatever your lifestyle contains, the first few weeks of your pups life should be spent exposed to as much of it as possible.
- Puppy training classes. Enrolling onto a puppy training class or a puppy socialisation class is a great idea to allow your puppy to encounter other people and dogs in a controlled environment. Be sure to do your research into which clubs are right for you – it’s important that there is a great element of control and the puppies aren’t all just running around going crazy and playing with one another. Training should be fun for both the people and the dogs and the environment should be calm, professional and relaxed. Ask a few of your local clubs if you can sit in and watch a class before you decide which one is right for you. You can go to the Guild of Dog Trainers website www.godt.org.uk for a list of reputable trainers in your area.
If you remain aware that your puppy is constantly learning by everything you do and don’t do and you use common sense and lots of consistency, you should hopefully be able to raise your puppy into a happy, balanced and good doggy citizen.
Putting in the time and effort in the beginning of your dog’s life will make ALL the difference in the type of dog she will become and will really make your life so much easier, for the rest of your time together.
If you are thinking of getting a puppy, have just got your first one or you just want to get things right this time round, please feel free to get in touch via the contact section on the site to book a New Puppy consultation.
~ every dog can be a good dog ~