There are several things you should do BEFORE bringing home your puppy.
First off congratulations on your new puppy! If this is your first puppy, we hope that this is helpful to you on your journey with your new furry best friend.
Puppy Proofing 101:
As a new dog owner, one of your first responsibilities is getting your home ready for your puppy. It’s time to start puppy-proofing your home. The best way to do this is to get down on your hands and knees and look at exactly what your puppy sees, at his level. Do you have loose cords that could be potentially hazardous? Are there any openings small enough for your puppy to enter, but maybe not yourself, like behind heavy furniture? What areas of the house will be off-limits until your puppy is potty trained, or permanently, and how will you secure those areas? If you have small children, are there toys that could be choking hazards for your puppy (can fit through the cardboard tube of a toilet paper roll)? It’s time to start moving those items to a safe place and securing anything that may be potentially hazardous. Puppies use their mouths to discover the world in those first months of life, and we don’t want them to discover anything that may end up with a trip to the emergency vet, or worse. The ASPCA has a list of household products that are poisonous to your pets. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/poisonous-household-products
Puppy Veterinary Care 102:
Choosing a veterinarian can be somewhat daunting if this is your first pet. It’s always a good idea to ask around and read reviews before scheduling your first appointment. We tell all of our families that they need to schedule a well puppy visit within the first 72 hours of their puppy being home. Due to Covid-19, appointments are harder to come by, so it’s best to schedule all of your puppy’s vaccination appointments ahead of time. That way your puppy stays on track without risk of missing vital booster shots. Not all vets practice veterinarian medicine the same; choose a vet who is well informed and supportive of your choices as a pet owner. Remember, you are hiring them to provide you with a service for your pet! We recommend choosing an emergency vet before your puppy comes home. Ask friends and family who they use as an emergency vet. They are not all the same, and some may try to take advantage of you in your time of need. Once you have chosen your vet(s), list their contact and address information on your refrigerator, and then be sure to also add them as a contact in your phone for quick reference in case of an emergency.
Puppy Care 103:
The choices can be overwhelming when looking for items that your new puppy will need. We like to use a simple acronym: K.I.S.S.: Keep It Super Simple. Start by covering the basics when your puppy first comes home. A lot of what you will need those first few weeks you will find in the puppy swag bag that we provide when you pick up your puppy. In case you are not getting your puppy from us, and you have stumbled upon our blog looking for good advice on puppy care, here is a list of what we provide in our bags as of January 2021:
- 6 lb. Bag of puppy food your puppy is currently being fed, to help your puppy transition to whatever you have decided to feed.
- NuVet Vitamins
- Tennis ball
- Lick mat
- Elk or moose antler
- Training treats
- Plush toy
- An ornament with your puppy’s very first collar in it
- TPL Tumbler
- Puppy folder with all important paperwork
We highly recommend crate training your puppy, using a 42-inch crate with an adjustable divider. By nature, dogs are den animals, and their crate is den-like in design, and a safe haven. The adjustable divider will prevent you from having to buy multiple crates as your puppy grows. We love the Fold and Carry Crate’s from Chewy.com (check sizing before placing an order). It’s important for your puppy to have a quiet place to go away from the hustle and bustle of the house. It’s also a safe place for you to put your puppy at night or when you have to be gone. Crate training will benefit you and your dog in the long run, so begin doing so as soon as you take your puppy home. If you have found yourself working from home, as so many have due to Covid-19, put the crate a room that can be closed off and give the puppy a scheduled naptime to allow him to learn that being alone is not a fearful thing. Playing music, or the television, during the puppy’s alone time may provide enough background noise to provide a distraction, lessening anxiety. A Kong filled with a frozen treat may also be helpful.
We recommend ordering high-quality puppy food before your puppy comes home. Puppies need lots of good nutrition to grow into healthy strong adult dogs. Starting them off on the right paw will help your dog to live a long, full life.
Getting your puppy a new bed can provide them with a place to snuggle in during the day to chew on their favorite toy. It can also aid you in training your dog to remain in “place.” Having a designated place for them to go will help with manners, and also provide your dog with a comfortable sleeping area. Kuranda makes great dog beds that are elevated so there are no pressure points, and this helps to relieve stress on joints. Kuranda beds are easy to clean and engineered to be chew proof.
Here is a list of our favorite things that we buy for our dogs. We hope you find this list helpful while shopping for your new family member.
Puppy Housebreaking 104:
Here are a few tips for housebreaking your puppy. Remember, consistency is key! It will pay off in the long run.
Having a puppy is very similar to having a newborn; they need constant care and attention. Your new puppy has a very small bladder and will need to go out every 1-2 hours during the day, and 3-4 hours during the night. Take your puppy out as soon as they wake up, before every meal, right after they eat or drink, and after they are done playing. Designate a puppy potty area. Walk your puppy on a leash to this same area every time you go out for a potty break, praise them lavishly when they do their business, and it doesn’t hurt to carry a few training treats in your pocket to reinforce good behavior. Take up the water bowl a few hours before bedtime, this will help to curb nighttime accidents. We recommend setting alarms so that you can stay on track. If your puppy is still asleep when your alarm goes off, wake them up and take them out! If you go back to sleep without taking your puppy out, we guarantee that they will wake up and have an accident in their crate. Even with constant care and attention puppies will have accidents in the house, so expect them. Nature’s Miracle is a miracle odor and stain remover for your carpets, and we recommend it to all of our clients. It REALLY works!
Puppy Socialization 105:
Socialization is vital for your puppy to become a well-adjusted adult dog. It shapes their behavior with unfamiliar places, adults, children, sounds, textures, and other dogs. We do our very best to make sure your puppy comes to you with socializing to new things already begun: children, water, loud noises, and stairs, just to name a few; but it does not stop there. It’s your responsibility as a new pet owner to continue to socialize your young puppy. Introducing something new, one time, is not socializing. Your puppy needs to become familiar with new sights, sounds, children, and other pets in a calm environment, learning to self regulate and acclimate to these new experiences. Weeks 8-14 are a vital developmental time for doing this. Introduce your puppy to one new thing each day, and have fun with it, using your imagination: wear a big hat, dark sunglasses, a beard, a mustache, play with the neighbors’ kitten, play puppy-toy keep-away with a remote control car—the possibilities are endless. Take your puppy for trips in the car to get them used to going to new places, even if it’s just a quick trip around the neighborhood. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to help your new puppy to be comfortable with new experiences. Socializing doesn’t mean taking your young puppy to the dog park, or the pet store, or leaving your puppy outside with the neighbor’s kids unsupervised. Stay away from dog parks, pet stores, rest areas, gas stations, and even your local park. Parvo virus can live in the soil, and on surfaces, and is RAMPANT at these locations. Until your puppy has had the full series of five boosters, they are very susceptible to catching it. We recommend asking your friends with vaccinated adult dogs to help you to socialize your puppy with new furry friends. If you do not have kids, ask your friends and family to come over and help play with your puppy. We’re sure they will be happy to oblige. After all, who doesn’t love playing with a puppy?
Puppy Training 106:
At first dog training can seem like a pretty big task, because it really is. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The challenge of dog training can be described as “one treat at a time.” Start by setting aside 15-20 minutes a day to work on training. In time, this will become part of your daily routine and will set a good foundation upon which to build. A well-trained dog is less likely to become destructive, get hit by a car, or to be surrendered to a shelter. We want you to have a dog that you enjoy, and one that others who visit your home will enjoy as well. Many pet stores offer classes, and there are some great videos online that you can watch for tips and tricks. Often, we will send our own dogs to board with our trainer, because with so many dogs, as well as a busy breeding schedule, we don’t always have as much time to devote to training them as we would like. They come back to us better than ever! Sometimes it even seems like we are getting a brand-new dog back. If you are short on time, and have the resources available to you, we highly recommend board and train programs. Once your dog comes home, the training does not stop there. You will be sent home with homework. Your trainer will give you ideas for things that you can do to reinforce the training your dog has received. The American Kennel Club has great programs for puppies and adult dogs alike. You can get your dog titled, and that may be the just the beginning of adding more titles, or specialized training for things like therapy work.
AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy is a program designed to get dog owners and their puppies off to a good start through basic training and socialization.
The Canine Good Citizen™ (CGC) program is a two-part course designed to help you and your dog be the best you can be—together.
We hope that the information provided here has inspired and empowered you as you begin this adventure with your new fur baby. Blessings!
~Revee and Ann
Tall Pine Labradors LLC