Raising a puppy can be a taxing challenge for any new owner! Acquiring all of the necessary supplies, training, socialization, finding the right diet, considering vet costs and options are all major decisions that can either set your puppy up to succeed as a loving family pet or to fail and end up in a shelter or with behavioral problems as an adult. The choices you make now for your new little canine companion are the things that will shape his future as your best friend when he is all grown up. Start him right and the two of you will have many happy years together.
Before your puppy ever comes home, you must first prepare your home, finances, and mental state. A puppy is not only expensive to care for, but he can also bring a good amount of destruction to your home and items as well as wear you down mentally and emotionally if you are not adequately prepared. First, make sure you can handle purchasing all of the supplies you need such as a crate, bed, blankets, collar, harness, leash, dishes, grooming supplies, training treats and toys. Now, consider your training and grooming abilities. Do you need to hire a professional? If so, shop around for those extra fees and count them into your finances!
Now you need to puppy proof your home! Preventing destruction is a mixture of preserving your home and preventing unwanted behaviors. Using a crate and play pen can keep your puppy out of trouble when you can’t keep an eye on him, but what about even when he is able to explore the designated rooms of the house he is allowed in? Keep electrical cords, glass, and your shoes off the floor!
Keep in mind that having a puppy will bring about an extreme change in your daily schedule! Potty training a puppy is intensive work that must remain consistent and on a schedule. Puppies have to potty first thing in the morning, 15 to 20 minutes after eating or drinking, before and after play and training, and last thing at night before bed time. In between those times, your puppy will need to be given the chance to go potty every hour! Doing these things for a couple weeks will keep his mess off your floors and begin a wonderful and tidy potty habit that will last through his lifetime!
The Training Games
Your puppy must begin training the day you bring him home! His training should involve some of the first things he should learn, which are bite inhibition, calm behaviors such as sitting, standing and laying down quietly, his name, potty habits and of course basic obedience. Many of these training games are easily done through out your daily schedule. For example, teaching your puppy to be calm is as simple as ignoring rambunctious behavior and rewarding calm behavior with a treat, toy or play. Don’t let your puppy initiate play, as that teaches him that he’s the one making all the choices! Instead, ignore him if he tries to start play, and once he stops you can initiate play! This teaches him that being bossy gets him no where, but being polite means a reward!
Basic obedience can begin as early at 8 weeks of age for any puppy. This involves teaching him to sit, lay down, come when called, stay and walk nicely on a leash. At this age he will not become perfect for these cues, but think of it as kindergarten in which he is learning how to learn! He is only just now learning certain human words and your body language, as well as that his behavior leads to a consequence. The consequences can be a reward, or nothing at all. As he gets the hang of training, he will make the association between being obedient and lots of positive reinforcement!
If you start your puppy out right with prevention and training, you are setting him up to succeed. Teaching him to be an obedient pet does far more than teach him to potty in the right place or sit on command, it helps your bond grow! These early stages of puppyhood are when your little one will bond with you and form a life long friendship. He will trust you and follow you anywhere if you raise your puppy right!