The minute you get your new puppy he will be learning how to act around you and his environment. Puppies are like little sponges and absorb information better than any other time in their life. So, now is the best time to concentrate on socializing, getting them out to meet people, and teaching your puppy manners they will need throughout their life. You will want to get your puppy out and experience as much of the world as possible. Ask your vet what they recommend is safe to do with your puppy before they get all of their vaccinations. After that, the possibilities are endless for where and what you and your puppy can explore.
Look into puppy classes and socialization classes as soon as possible. There are all types of classes and puppy play groups offered in most communities. One resource for finding classes and trainers is The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). The AKC has a couple of great programs that I feel are wonderful for dog owners and their puppies to participate in. The first one, for young puppies is the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program. From there your puppy will be prepared for the AKC® Canine Good Citizen® Program.
The First Few Days
- Settle on a name for you puppy so he can start to learn it.
- Let puppy investigate one room, preferably the one he will be spending most time in, then move on to others when he seems comfortable in that one.
- For the first few nights he will need reassurance about his new home. He will look to you for comfort and guidance. Keep him next to your bed to calm him when he gets scared and to take him out quickly if he has to go.
- Limit visitors till puppy has become used to his new home.
- Puppies are very fun to play with but, when he is sleeping let him sleep. They really need it at this age.
- Establish a routine with eating, going to the bathroom, play, and sleep.
Designate the area you what your puppy to go to the bathroom. Take him there every time and use a command like, “potty” or “hurry” when he goes. Make sure you praise him when he is finished. Take him in afterwards. Do not encourage play since this will confuse him of the purpose of the activity.
Until your puppy has learned to “go” outside, always keep a close eye on him to prevent or catch accidents. If you catch him in the act, firmly tell him “No” or “Bad” and take him out to his designated area to go the bathroom. Puppies can only connect scolding to what is happening at that moment. If you do not catch him in the act, it is YOUR fault for allowing him to make the mistake. All you can do now is clean up the mess.
Times when your puppy may need to go to the bathroom is when he wakes in the morning or from a nap, after play, after eating or drinking, and just before bedtime.
At night, take water away about an hour or two before bedtime to help puppy hold himself till morning.
If you create train, generally, puppies can safely be left in their create the number of hours equal to their age in months plus one, until their first year.
Support Good Behavior
Puppy’s normal behavior is to growl, nip, mouth, and chew. However, these are things we do not want to continue into problem behavior.
Growling– Since dogs cannot talk, they use growling to communicate fear or warning. First, you need to figure out why your puppy is growling. If it is from fear, use a calming voice and gentle touch to settle him down. Help him overcome his fear but, never force him to accept it. At the same time, do not smother him with affection to try and comfort him. Show him that there is nothing to fear, you do not have any reaction to the thing that is causing the his fear. This can sometimes take take repeated confrontation with the fearful thing to overcome the anxiety. If your puppy growls as a warning to keep a toy or food from you, firmly tell him “NO!” and take the object from him. Return it back to him. Then in a minute or so take it again. If he does not growl, praise him enthusiastically. If he growls again, tell him “NO!” and take the object from him and repeat the process until he does not growl. Do not give up. Never let a dog get away with bad behavior.
Nipping or Mouthing– Puppies use their mouths like babies use their hands to touch and investigate their environment. Puppies also play with their litter mates by nipping and biting. So, when they play, they are are using their mouth in a way that comes naturally. When your puppy bites, nips or mouths you, make a loud, high pitch cry or you can tell him “NO!” You want to startle him so he stops. Try to have a toy or bone that he can have after the incident to show him what you would prefer him to bite on. You can also put your palm, flat in front of their nose and wait for them to lick it. When they do, praise them for being pleasant. Whether you have a substitute for him to chew or not, once he has stopped the bad behavior, praise him for his improved behavior. You will find that this can be a long process. Keep up with your corrections and make sure you do not get angry, just be firm.
Chewing- Puppies need to chew. Their teeth are moving and growing which makes them want to chew. Also, chewing is a way for them to clean their teeth. Make sure your puppy has plenty of appropriate toys and bones to chew. If you catch him with something he is not suppose to be chewing, tell him “Leave it!” Take it and redirect him to an acceptable chew toy. Be patient and consistent. You can also take the opportunity to praise him when you find him chewing one of his chew toys or bones. Remember that chewing is something they need to do.
Training Habits for You
Here are just a few simple things that you can get in the habit of doing which will make you a better teacher for your puppy.
- Be firm but gentle
- Be consistent. Everyone in the family needs to use the same words for commands and use the same method and timing for corrections.
- Follow through with every command.
- Never hit your puppy.
- Always reward your puppy when he shows good behavior. You can never over do praise. Additional positive reinforcement like playing with him and his a favorite toy or offering a tasty treat can be rewarding for your puppy and you.
Remember, I am always happy to help if you have questions or have a problem situation that needs attention. Of course, I always get excited when I hear how one of my puppies is doing and how they are growing. Please do not hesitate to contact me, whatever the situation is.