Puppies are really very adorable and if you have taken the bold step of bringing a new puppy into your home but are not sure about where to start with socialising etc, then this article should help.
Elisha Fahy RVN DipCABT gives her advice for these first time puppy owner tips:
Advice for New Puppy Owners
From food to where they sleep to routines to socialising, all of this takes a bit of getting used to as a first time puppy owner. Here are some new puppy tips to help you navigate the new arrival.
The Importance of a Puppy Diet
A huge amount of research has resulted in life-stage diets which are formulated specifically for the nutritional needs of pets at different stages and these are available in many vets and pet stores.
Puppy diets are important because they have extra supplements added such as glucosamine and chondroitin to aid joints and antioxidants which promote a healthy immune system and help to protect brain cells.
Do try to feed your puppy the very best quality food you can afford, it’s an investment in your puppy’s health and happiness.
When it comes to treats, choose natural treats like carrots or broccoli and high-quality treats with healthy ingredients.
Make a Puppy Room
Just like a new baby, for a new puppy, things like baby gates do come in handy. If you have rooms that you don’t want your new puppy in at least until they are housetrained, then make a “puppy-safe room” for them to wander around in.
As well as their crate, their bed and some water, add some toys for them to play with and chew on.
After all, it’s really not possible to supervise your new puppy 24 hours a day, so having one space to put them when you can’t be with them is sensible.
Socialising Your Puppy
Socialisation is a vital part in the upbringing of puppies and will prevent certain behavioural problems later in life. Pets that are poorly socialised and habituated live a life of fear.
At the start of their lives, all animals go through what is known as a ‘sensitive development period’. During this time, they encounter the world for the first time – and learn to accept what they find.
In puppies, this period starts at birth and lasts until about 14 weeks of age. Anything a puppy experiences during that time will become part of its natural order of things. After that age, unfamiliar objects and experiences can cause a fearful response (sometimes extremely fearful) and can ultimately lead to aggression.
It is important, therefore, that the owner introduces his or her puppy to as much of puppiesthe environment and lifestyle as possible, as soon as possible.
Learning to interact normally with adults, children, other dogs and pets is called socialisation.
The experience of household noises like appliances, cars, the countryside and city – becoming accustomed to a wide range habitats and environments – is called habituation.
Why Socialisation and Habituation for Your New Puppy is Important
More young adult dogs are euthanased because of behavioural problems than die from the diseases we vaccinate against. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these behavioural problems are brought about by poor socialisation.
For example, if a puppy has never met a postman, or a child, and encounters one of these for the first time later in life, it can become extremely fearful. A natural response of a fearful dog, if it has no other means of escape, is aggression.
Proper habituation helps prevent similar problems. Imagine trying to take a dog who has never encountered a car on a journey – the poor animal will be sick with fear, and may become aggressive.
And, if a puppy has not been accustomed to separation from its owners during the sensitive period, it may, in later life, bark, whine, lose toilet control or be destructive whenever it is left alone.
Get Your New Puppy into a Routine
Again, just like kids, puppies benefit from a consistent routine, where they know and learn what expected behaviour is.
Create a routine for when you feed them, when it’s play time, training time and of course cuddle time.
House Training Your Puppy
Puppies only have full control of their bladder at around 12 weeks of age, so you should expect some accidents as you house train them.
Take your puppy outside first thing in the morning, also after eating, after play time, after they’ve had a snooze and before bedtime. Praise them each time.
Our dog trainer recommended having one pole in the garden where you encourage them to go to at least pee there.
If you have to leave your puppy at home alone, then put them in their crate while you’re away as this will encourage them to control their bladder but also avoid them chewing on things.
Would like your child to be more independent? This list of essential life skills will stand them in good stead for years to come.
Correct Behaviour Early
Don’t forget that some “cute” puppy behaviour may be annoying or even dangerous later when they get older. For example, jumping up on people or getting used to being held.
Now is the time to correct this behaviour before they get entrenched in it.
Either get a dog trainer to come to your home, or enrol your new puppy in training classes, because both you and they will benefit from them. They should learn how to be obedient and follow some basic commands such as “Sit”, “Down”, “Come” and “Wait”.
Teaching them to walk on a leash without straining is also useful.
If you opt for classes, your puppy will also get the chance to socialise with other puppies.
Grooming and Cleaning Your New Puppy
Get your puppy used to showering and teeth brushing and grooming, you’ll be grateful later that you did. Depending on the breed, they may need to go for regular visits to the dog groomers, so take them when they are a puppy to get their nails trimmed for the first time to get used to the new location.
Also get them accustomed to you looking in their mouth and running your fingers over their gums to prepare them for tooth brushing.
Buy a dog brush and gently brush them to get them used to being groomed.
Wash them gently in the shower with some warm water – you’ll need them to stay still the first time they roll in fox poo, so getting them accustomed to being showered is sensible.
Hopefully these tips for first time puppy owners are useful for you, a bit of common sense and plenty of love goes a long way too. And do enjoy the new puppy stage while it lasts, just like your kids, they will grow up in the flash of an eye.