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Caring for and Training a Puppy

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Nobody should ever get a puppy on impulse so you will have made preparations for the new addition to your family. Here you can find out what they are and how to care for and begin training your puppy so he and you have a happy life together.

So there you are – you and your new puppy home together at last. Hopefully, you will already have seen him several times while he was still with his mother so he knows you and isn’t too frightened. Now what?

Preparations

First of all, the preparations you made for his arrival will help both of you. You can buy:

  • A good book on puppy care
  • Blankets suitable for dogs, i.e. ones he can’t rip too easily
  • A dog crate
  • Dog toys – cuddly toys, balls, a squeaky toy, chewable Nylabones
  • A collar and lead – suitable for puppies
  • A safety harness for traveling in the car
  • Dog bowls
  • Food recommended by the breeder or rescue center
  • Brush & Combs for grooming
  • A gate to put in doorways to keep your puppy out of danger and mischief.

These are the basics. You will probably find other things you want to buy in preparation.

You will also need to puppy-proof your home. Make sure that your garden has good fences all the way around. They should be high enough that he can’t jump over them when he’s fully grown and of course check for holes or gaps – you will be surprised how a puppy can squirm through the smallest of spaces. If you have a gate in the garden, check the puppy can’t get through it. If it is the kind with wooden or metal bars, cover the gate with a metal netting and attach it securely.

Inside your home, there will be many things that are dangerous to a curious puppy or that you will be upset if he destroys. Make sure that electric cables are either out of reach or covered up so he can’t find and chew them. He will explore everything in his new environment and, just like a human baby, his instinct is to suck and chew it. That includes corners of furniture, loose edges of carpets and rugs, shoes, slippers, bags, etc. Have a good look around your home and move anything that could be dangerous or you don’t want to be damaged.

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The First Weeks

First of all, and most importantly, make sure you have time off work to devote to your new puppy in the first few days of his arrival. He will have come from his mother and littermates and won’t be prepared for being alone. It is a good idea to take a blanket to the breeder as soon as you decide you are going to take the puppy so that he can sleep on it while he is still with his mother. When you take him home, take the blanket with you. The smells of his mother and brothers and sisters will be a comfort to him. Don’t wash it until he has settled down in his new home.

You should take your puppy to the veterinarian for a check-up as soon as you can after you get him home, certainly within the first two days. He should get his first shots against killer diseases as well as being checked for any incipient health problems. You might also want to discuss getting him micro-chipped.

You can use his crate to create a quiet spot for him to sleep and also as a safe retreat for him. Put it somewhere he won’t be disturbed but not in a place where he is going to feel lonely. A corner of your main living room or kitchen would be fine. Cover the top and three sides with a blanket or rug, leaving the front clear. Make it comfortable with a dog bed or blankets. Don’t close him in there, leave the door open. You can tempt him by putting some treats inside. If you find that he doesn’t want to go in there, don’t force him to do so. This should be a place of refuge and safety, not a prison. Be prepared with a box and put his blanket in there for his bed, if he prefers it.

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From the beginning, you should establish a routine. Get him into the habit of regular mealtimes then watch him afterward so you can begin house training him immediately. You will soon see the signs that he wants to urinate or defecate. If you have a garden, scoop him up and take him outside to a spot you have already chosen as suitable for the purpose. When he does his business, praise him lavishly – “Good boy, what a good boy, you are such a good boy” in a tone of total delight! Take him out to the special place first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Puppies only have small bladders and bowels so need to go frequently. Never, ever scold him when he does it in the wrong place. Just like a human baby, it takes time before he can control urination and defecation. If you shout at him, it can lead to problems including eating his own feces. Of course, you should never rub his nose in what he’s done, it is disgusting and will not help house training him.

For further training and socialization, look for a good puppy training class in your area. Sit in on the class before taking your puppy to ensure that the methods used are good and that there aren’t too many puppies in one class. Avoid any that insists on using a choke chain or other harsh methods of training.

The most important part of caring for and training your puppy is you remember that he is a baby. He has just left his mother and everything he knows. Don’t shout at him or punish him when he makes a mess, destroys your best shoes, or some treasured possession. It’s not his fault, it’s yours for leaving them where he could get them. He doesn’t know what he is doing is wrong and he will grow out of chewing everything, just like a human baby does. If you shout at him or punish him, he will grow into a nervous, insecure dog – not what you want. Enjoy him as a puppy, then enjoy him as the secure, well-balanced dog he becomes when he grows up.

(I use ‘he’ and ‘him’ instead of the clumsy ‘he or she’ and ‘him or her’ but, of course, this article refers to both sexes.)

© 2020 Sid mark