Congratulations, you’ve welcomed a new puppy into your heart and home. Here’s a list of commandments to follow when you embark on your new life with your puppy:
- If you have a crate for your puppy then make their crate a safe haven ; somewhere where a puppy enjoys spending their time. Fill it with fun toys – squeaky toys, a stuffed kong with tasty treats to keep them occupied and chew toys. Rotate the toys to increase their interest. A crate should be somewhere a pup goes to relax, not a place to be confined to for hours on end – if it is, a dog will literally go stir crazy when it comes out. Think about it, if you were confined to a small space for hours, you’d have some serious pent up energy too! If you have commitments such as work, consider hiring a dog walker to come in and walk your pup.
- It’s a legal requirement to have your dog micro chipped and they must also wear a collar with your name and address on.
- Manage your dog’s environment so you help them make the right decisions. A puppy will find it immensely comforting to chew on your shoe as chewing is stress relieving behaviour and your shoes smell of their ultimate favourite thing – you! Avoid your Jimmy Choo’s from turning into ‘Jimmy Chew’s’ by putting them away in your wardrobe out of reach from your puppy.
- The right puppy classes can be a fantastic investment. Find a positive reinforcement dog trainer, who uses force free methods and enrol yourself and your puppy on to classes to teach them vital life skills such recall, the leave it cue and acceptance of being handled.
- Type up a list of training guidelines for your pup, laminate it and pop in a place that everyone in your household can see and follow. If you have a dog walker, ensure that they have a copy of these to follow too.
- Consistency is key! If your dog is allowed on the sofa to cuddle up to you when he’s just been groomed, he won’t know the difference if he jumps up when he’s got muddy paws. It’s so important to start as you mean to go on! Your dog looks for guidance so create some boundaries now to avoid confusion and possible anxiety later on.
- Encourage behaviour that you like with with praise and attention and treats. With behaviour you don’t like don’t shout at your dog it will probably just think you’re barking encouragement at them, the opposite of what you’d like to achieve. Reward the good, ignore the bad, and manage what you can’t change!
- Chew toys are your dogs version of the tooth fairy! Teething time occurs at 4 – 6 months. Ensure your puppy has access to a range of items to chew on, cardboard and cloths are ideal. 6 months of age is the equivalent of teenage adolescence so this is prime time to step up your dog’s exercise and playtime routine.
- Ensure your dog has lots of different experiences and sees lots of different things. Do this is a controlled and managed way however, and from a distance if your puppy finds that more comfortable. If your dog is showing any excessive body language indicators that suggest they are uncomfortable with the situation (moving away, hiding behind you, growling, lip licking, yawning) then get out of the situation. You want to set your puppy up for success not flood them with stress and anxiety.
- Give your dog lots of outlets for their natural behaviour. Does your puppy like to dig for example? Provide them with a sandpit to play in. Is your dog all about the nose? Hide some treats in a cardboard box under some brown paper and their toys so they can forage for them. Create lots of environments that will keep your pup happy and stimulated – they deserve it after all.
Helen Zulch (2012), Life Skills for Puppies: Laying the foundation for a loving, lasting relationship, Hubble & Hattie an Imprint of Veloce Publishing Ltd
Victoria Stilwell (2005), It’s me or the dog. How to have the perfect pet. Collins.