Getting A New Puppy (Everything You Need To Know)
So you got a new puppy! Maybe even your first dog ever. This journey you’re going to go on can be one of the most exciting and rewarding things you do as you watch them grow, play, and develop into your new best friend. Who doesn’t love big feet, clumsy playtime, and puppy snuggles!? But their cuteness can very quickly begin to wane when you find them chewing your new carpet, are constantly cleaning messes, and hear Adele reverberating from their belly because they ate your AirPods.
Luckily with a little bit of patience and a good plan to set them up for success you can quickly get past these frustrating puppy stages with minimal casualties. Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help you to survive puppyhood with your new dog!
1.) Your leash is your savior
Keep in mind that puppies know absolutely NOTHING when you first bring them home. That means not just obedience commands, but also behavioral issues and bad habits. The single most important thing we can do as soon as we bring our young dog home is ensure that the dog is not ever in a position to rehearse these things in the first place. The easiest way to do that is to make sure that your dog wears a leash ALL THE TIME both inside and outside. Dog doesn’t come when called? Use your leash. Dog likes to sneak off into other rooms and pee? Use your leash. Dog loves to jump all over guests that come over? Use your leash. You get the message! The leash allows you to steer them away from any temptations and back to you.
2. Managing your environment (AKA puppy proofing)
Obviously we want to teach our dog what’s right and what’s wrong over time so that we can keep our house exactly how we want it without needing to worry about putting everything away and live a strict minimalist lifestyle. That being said, there are going to be SO MANY different things that you are working on with your young dog over the course of the first 5-6 months of your life. Additionally many of these things can be toxic or dangerous to our dog where it isn’t worth the risk. Instead of overwhelming them AND yourself with the frustrations of missing something and having your favorite shoe chewed up, putting anything that could be enticing to your puppy away and out of reach. Later on you can put those things back out one at a time when you have some training and the ability to consistently tell them dog clearly that they aren’t allowed to touch it.
3. Use a crate. A LOT!
Crates are one of the most important tools we can use with our young dog. It allows you to have a safe place for them while you aren’t able to supervise. It blocks patterns of having accidents in the house. Dogs generally won’t make a mess where they sleep. And it gives them “nap time” to help keep their behavior balanced out (they are like children and will get cranky without one). We recommend using a crate anytime that you aren’t home, at nighttime, and for a few hours at a time in the middle of the day when you aren’t able to supervise them. Not all dogs love it initially. That’s ok, use it consistently, tolerate some whining and barking, and they will get past it in no time!
4. Supervision is KEY! (And what to do if you can’t watch them)
Having eyes on our puppy is the number 1 thing that you need to be able to do at all times. The lack of having eyes on your puppy is also the number 1 reason why young dogs develop so many unwanted behavioral issues in the first place. Obviously the task of never letting them out of eyesight can be extremely daunting and there will be times that it isn’t realistic. That is where your crate comes into play. Being able to confine them when you’re busy cooking dinner, taking a shower, or sleeping allows you to never miss a beat and know they are safe while you take a mental break from the responsibilities of puppy ownership. We’re responsible for helping our pup navigate the environment around them and we can’t do that if we’re not paying attention.
5. Give your dog appropriate outlets for using their mouth
Puppies LOVE to use their teeth. Lets give them some appropriate things to use them on. This won’t solve the issues of biting or chewing things by itself, but by showing them where they CAN do it while doing a good job of managing the dog using the above pointers we can minimize the amount of fingers and baseboards that find themselves at the mercy of those sharp puppy teeth.
6. Have realistic expectations
It’s important to remember that your puppy has no preexisting knowledge of how to adapt to life with humans. We have to be patient and consistent with helping them to understand what we need and want from them. You WILL have some accidents in the house. You WILL wind up with something chewed up and destroyed. You WILL get frustrated from time to time with the dog. We’re human, we slip up sometimes. But as these things happen it’s important to always take a step back and ask ourselves what did WE do wrong and how can we prevent it from happening again.
7. House breaking structure
One of the hardest things for some and the easiest for others is housebreaking. Rest assured though this one is only as hard as you make it. This is a rough breakdown of how you can structure out your day with your puppy to make sure that they are having minimal accidents inside and beginning to develop the routine of going OUTSIDE only.
Take the dog outside to potty as soon as you wake up. Use a leash and don’t give attention to or play with the dog until they have gone to the bathroom. This makes it a purposeful task and keeps them focused.
Give meal and water access. Your dog should eat all of their food immediately when you put it down and not leave anything in the bowl. If they are leaving scraps or grazing, you are feeding too much and you need to cut the food back. Having a dog that eats everything right away and doesn’t graze allows you to keep a very consistent bowl movement schedule.
After any meal time its up to us make sure we know how long the dog generally takes to relieve themself. For most dogs 30-40 minutes is standard. For some less for some more. When you take them out at this time give them 10 minutes or so. If they don’t completely relieve themself take them inside and put them in their crate for 10-15 minutes and then take them out again. Make the dog earn their freedom out of the crate by going to the bathroom outside. Repeat this structure anytime you feed the dog, wether its two or three times per day. In between meals take the dog out every few hours or after any play time to pee.
Before bed time make sure you cut all food and water access at a reasonable time so the dog has plenty of time to clear anything out of their system so they can sleep fully through the night. We usually recommend between 6-7PM.
With a little hard work you’ll get past these early stages and the dog will not develop any bad habits of going inside. Just remember, it’s your number 1 job to make sure the dog ONLY goes outside. Take them out as frequently as needed to achieve this goal for the first few months.