Getting a new puppy is an exciting event, but for a first time dog owner it can also be quite daunting, as you may be uncertain of how to introduce the puppy to its new environment without any problems. The first day or two may be particularly stressful for a young puppy that has just been separated from his mother and siblings. The puppy is now in a strange environment without the familiar faces and warmth of his brethren to snuggle up to. He may be nervous and somewhat timid, and he may whimper when left alone. By heeding the following 5 tips, a new dog owner will help the puppy to quickly adjust to his new environment and settle in, and will make puppy ownership more pleasurable and less stressful for both you and your new addition.
- Be prepared – make sure that you have all the necessary equipment that you will need to keep your new pet happy and healthy. Your new pup will need:
- Food and water bowls.
- Toys – some puppy-safe chew toys, as well as comforting toys to snuggle up to.
- Grooming tools – a dog brush, and depending on the breed, may need other grooming accessories.
- Dog bed – a comfortable bed to sleep in, and perhaps a crate to contain him when you are not there (optional). Your puppy must have a cozy, secure corner of his own to retreat to after a hard day at play.
- Puppy collar and lead – get your puppy used to wearing a collar and walking on a lead as soon as possible. They quickly learn to accept this, but it can be more difficult to train a dog to walk on a lead when it is older.
- Puppy food – puppies are still growing and therefore need a nutritionally balanced diet specially formulated for growing puppies to assist with healthy development.
- Veterinary health check – have your puppy thoroughly examined by your vet. Make sure that your puppy receives any puppy vaccinations that are due, and that he has been dewormed at the required intervals. If any external parasites, such as fleas are visible, ask your vet to recommend a flea treatment that is safe for puppies, as some regular flea treatments can usually only be used on dogs over six months of age.
- Identification – ensure that your puppy has an identity disk with your name, address, and telephone number on, in case he should go exploring and get lost. Alternatively, if your puppy does not already have one, arrange for your vet to insert a microchip, which is a permanent method of identification.
- House Training – a new puppy introduced to strange surroundings is likely to have a few accidents before he learns how to ask to go outside, and you learn to notice the signs that he needs to go outside – visible signs include, whining, scratching, restlessness, shaking. Try to stick to regular meal times, and take the puppy outside after he has eaten. Encourage him to relieve himself by using a keyword, and then shower him with praise when he does. Never scold a pup when he has an accident, as this will draw attention to the fact. If you catch him in the act, pick him up and carry him outside, then praise him when he has finished his business outside.
- Basic Training – initial training is essential if you want to have a well-behaved dog that is a pleasure to have around. If you do not want your puppy on the furniture or beds, he must be taught this from day one. There is no point allowing your cute cuddly puppy onto your couch or bed if you don’t want him to continue this behavior when he grows up – especially if your cute little puppy is likely to grow into a large boisterous dog. Likewise, your puppy must be taught which rooms are off limits – you need to be consistent otherwise you will just confuse the pup. A dog-training collar is a useful tool for training both young and older dogs. A dog shock collar is very effective for teaching a dog that certain behavior is unacceptable, and the dog can also be trained to respond to the cue given by the collar – for example when the collar vibrates he must return to your side, when he does so you give him a food reward as positive reinforcement. Your dog will quickly learn to respond to the cue of the vibrating collar, but initial training is necessary.
Getting a new puppy is always exciting, but unfortunately not all puppies remain with their new owners. Far too many end up in animal shelters, or are euthanized when they grow up – most of the time because they grew up to be problematic dogs that their owners couldn’t manage. It is the new dog owner’s responsibility to train the dog from the outset, much like they would teach a child right from wrong, to ensure that the relationship is a good one, and lasts for the lifetime of the dog