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Helpful Tips

Did Santa bring you a puppy for Christmas?

Here are some tips that will help you and your new puppy get thru your early days.

Between managing the puppy’s destructive tendencies, worrying about things like socialization, and being bombarded with well-intentioned advice from friends, family, and TV shows, a puppy parent can get a little overwhelmed so here are some bite-sized puppy tips to get you through the next few months.

  1. There are no commands your puppy has to learn immediately. It’s okay to go slow.
  2. Remember that your puppy is a baby – try not to ask too much of her. Don’t worry about whether she’ll perform a perfect sit/stay or heel.
  3. Take time for yourself. Puppies are exhausting and it’s easy to get burned out, especially if you can’t get any breaks.
  4. Most puppies have a low tolerance for frustration. If Sparky wants something but he’s held back from getting it or doesn’t understand how to get it, a bitey tantrum may ensue. They need to be taught calm ways to ask for what they want.
  5. Focus on what you want your puppy to do, not what you don’t want. You can yell at Sparky not to jump on Grandma all you want, while Sparky just says, “but how ELSE am I supposed to say hello to her?!”
  6. Just like human toddlers, puppies can be obnoxious when due for a nap. They need many naps per day. Sleep quality is key: in a quiet area where they feel secure.
  7. Play some puppy training games.
  8. Hyper Attack Mode is when puppies get extra bitey. It’s usually a sign that one of their needs aren’t being met. Like the need for sleep, play, exercise, less exercise, etc.
  9. When you get frustrated, remember that the puppy is probably just as frustrated as you are. He isn’t trying to make you angry or dominate you. He’s a little baby who’s been taken away from his mom and thrown into a strange new place where he doesn’t speak the language. He’s doing his best.
  10. When Sparky does something you like, reward her. Any behavior that gets rewarded is likely to be repeated.
  11. The way to a dog’s heart is truly through their stomach.
  12. Provide lots of toys.
  13. Provide lots of delicious chews. Things like bully sticks and pig ears. These will satisfy your pup’s need to chew and make her less likely to chew on your valuables.
  14. Rotate through the dog toys. Let your puppy have three or four toys at a time. Changing up the toy selection will keep Sparky interested.
  15. Do you have an older dog or cat? Give them a puppy-free place to themselves. Life with a new pup can be overwhelming for everyone, including your other pets. Make sure they have the ability to escape the madness if they need to.
  16. If you think your puppy needs to pee at all, don’t hesitate to take him outside.
  17. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Discuss the puppy rules with your whole family.
  18. Set realistic expectations for how long house training will take. House training is all about forming habits, and it takes a while for habits to become strong.
  19. Socialize, don’t traumatize. Introduce new experiences slowly and never let your puppy get overwhelmed.
  20. Set a daily routine, House training proceeds more smoothly if your puppy knows what to expect from her day.
  21. Relationships take time to build. You wouldn’t meet a new human and expect to best friends on day one. Getting to know, love and trust someone takes time so don’t be discouraged if it takes your puppy a while to warm up to you.
  22. Visit the vet. Take your pup for a visit when she doesn’t have an appointment. Bring some treats and ask the office staff to give her some. Make the vet’s office a fun place but be sure to call ahead first to make sure this is okay.
  23. Don’t worry too much when your puppy chews on you. Puppies bite and sometimes it hurts but it’s not aggression and this phase doesn’t last forever.
  24. Leave the TV or radio on when you leave your puppy home alone. Some puppies seem to find the background noise comforting.
  25. Pick up anything you don’t want destroyed. If it’s on the floor, it WILL be chewed.
  26. Supervise interactions between all your babies (human and canine) closely. Little kids can quickly get overwhelmed by puppy biting. Puppies can quickly get overwhelmed by enthusiastic children.
  27. Get a few Kong toys, fill them with canned dog food, cottage cheese, or peanut butter. Stick them in the freezer. When you need to keep the puppy entertained but you don’t have time, give them one of their frozen “Kong pops.”
  28. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be the pack leader. Successful puppy-raising is more like being a parent than being a tough “alpha.”
  29. Go with the flow. A lot of the joy of raising a puppy comes from discovering who they are, not in molding them into the perfect dog. You might want your dog to like activity A, but if it turns out they prefer activity B that’s okay.
  30. For bedding, use old towels or blankets that you don’t mind getting destroyed. Puppy bedding will probably get chewed on or peed on at some point, so save the cute, expensive dog beds for when they’re a bit older.
  31. Ditch the food bowl. Feeding your puppy out of food-dispensing puzzle toys will keep her busy (and out of trouble) longer and provide much-needed enrichment.
  32. Let your puppy sleep in your bedroom, at least for the first few nights. This whole experience is pretty scary for a pup, so it’s best not to make him sleep in the laundry room just yet. Put the crate next to your bed so you can reassure him.
  33. Baby gates are your friend. Use them to keep the puppy out of places you don’t want her to destroy.