Tips for 1st Time Puppy Owners

So you got a new puppy… awesome! Did you pick up the manual that goes with him? If you didn’t, don’t fret. I’m going to give you a few helpful tips that’ll make living with your new furry bundle of joy a little easier.

First things first: Your puppy was born into a *human* world. He does not have an innate sense of how to live in our world. Puppies/dogs are instinctually driven meaning they do what nature tells them to do. Nature tells them they must chew on things to help those baby teeth fall out so that the adult teeth can erupt through. What it neglects to tell them is that the leg of your fancy dining room table is NOT the appropriate target. Instinct drives your puppy to eat whatever he can forage to grow and sustain life. It neglects to tell him that your son’s Lego set is NOT an appropriate food source. When your puppy is “misbehaving” or doing inappropriate things he’s NOT doing it to upset you or to be spiteful. He just doesn’t know better. Remembering this will make both of your lives a lot easier, less stressful, safer and gives you more time to focus on the FUN things.

Think of your puppy as a human baby. He’s growing fast and learning new things every day but he needs your guidance and protection along the way.  Would you even THINK of leaving a human baby unattended for any length of time? No way! Therefore, you should never leave a puppy unattended.

The very first item you buy should be a dog crate. This will become your dog’s *haven* for the rest of his life. It’ll become his *go to* place when he’s feeling overwhelmed and his *fortress of protection* when he must be left alone. Crates are INCREDIBLY easy to introduce but it must be done correctly for it to be successful.  As long as he’s not spending his entire days and nights in the crate it’s a very healthy tool to have. Crating your puppy/dog is not “cruel” as long as it’s done responsibly. What is cruel and irresponsible is him being left to his own devices and run free while you’re at work all day long. He does not understand that chewing on the lamp’s electrical cord will electrocute and potentially kill him.

Many owners have good intentions and think they’ve covered all the bases in creating a safe environment but believe me your puppy will find that missing sock from 6 months ago inside the couch and will consider it a tasty treat!  Veterinary clinics make millions of dollars annually, in North America alone, through costly surgeries on dogs to remove foreign objects from their stomachs/bowels. Many of these puppies were “only alone for a second” but it was long enough for them to chew up and accidentally swallow the remote control for the tv or dishcloth. Not only does that leave the owner facing a huge financial loss but the puppy is now facing risky surgery that may or may not save his life in the end.  Crating is also a MONUMENTAL tool in helping with house-breaking your puppy!

The next order of business is obedience training. Again, your puppy wasn’t born knowing our language or understanding what it is that you want from him. It’s up to you to teach him. But in order for that to happen YOU should learn to speak HIS language. This is where the role of an Obedience Trainer comes into play. The trainer will teach you how to raise a confident puppy who knows exactly how to fit into our world. Teaching your dog basic obedience will not only save his life at some point in time but will also save you much frustration. An obedient and confident dog is a happy dog. Obedience classes help connect you to other dog owners. The social networking is HUGE! It also gives your puppy a social outlet. Your puppy loves his human family but he needs to socialize with other dogs as well. It’s critical to puppy development. Don’t ever think that you are all he needs. Imagine a world with no other humans to talk to or to truly understand you. Pretty lonely huh? Basic puppy training should begin the moment you bring him home or 8 weeks of age.

Your puppy will require regular veterinary visits for vaccinations and health exams. This begins at 8 weeks of age (1st puppy vaccine). Your veterinarian will ensure he’s growing well and guide you along your journey.  At 5-6 months of age your puppy should be scheduled to be neutered. Unless you are a registered and responsible breeder please do not add to the already over-populated dog world. If you are considering breeding, your puppy asks that you take a stroll through the local animal shelter. Your dog may be exceptionally beautiful and special but that’ll never guarantee his future puppies a home. Do your research on veterinary care and costs during pregnancy and birth.
If educating your children on the “Miracle of Life” is part of the agenda then please add “Miracle of Death” to it as well since there’s a high chance that at least ONE of those puppies will end up there. Google is a wonderful educational tool for children! Save your puppy the physical stress and save yourself the emotional and financial stress of reproduction.

Puppies are FUN FUN FUN!  But they can also be an incredible challenge.  A puppy who is raised with persistency, consistency and patience turns into a well-adjusted, happy adult dog that you will enjoy for many years to come. It’s much easier to raise your puppy correctly the first time when the slate is fresh than it is to fix an ill-mannered, non-adjusted, unhappy, “set in his ways” adult dog.