You just got a new dog? What now?
Going to be first time dog owner? Are you confused and stuck on what to do and what not to do?
It is fun to buy a new puppy and bring it home but new dog owners often get confused when they bring in their dog home for the first time. If you are one of those confused dog owners then you have landed at the right place.
In this post, I am going to discuss how you can take care of your new dog or puppy and lead a great life together. Here are some things you need to keep in mind as a first time dog owner:
It does not matter where you get your puppy from; be it from a friend, a shelter, a local breeder or any other place, it will definitely include traveling from one place to another. This would be the best time for you to get your puppy used to his crate. Make sure that you leave a good amount of treats in the crate so your puppy really likes it there. Also, it is recommended that you put in a T-shirt or towel in the crate that possesses the scent of his mother. Doing all this will make the puppy really comfortable in the new environment.
As soon as you reach home, be sure that the dog potties before you bring him inside. Whenever he does this, give him a treat and also keep him on leash inside. You should not let him free roam in the house in the beginning and only after a good time period of keeping him on the leash.
It is your choice whether you want to allow him on the furniture. You can either sit with him on the floor or the sofa. Pet him, love him, talk to him and get him used to your voice and the gentle touch of your hand. Also, make him feel comfortable when you touch him and let him know that you are not possessing any danger or harm whenever you touch his paws, sniff his ears, rub his belly and groom him.
Keep in mind that puppies don’t have great control over their bladder, and any sort of excitement can make them need to pee or poop. You can think of taking your puppy out to potty after 15 minutes of fun or play or after every meal. The first thing in the morning that you should do with him is a potty run and also the last thing that you do with him at night.
Let your puppy be in his crate for a while. It is his first time in a new place and he would need some time alone to process the new surroundings and things. You can keep his crate in a place where people are coming and going such as the living room. Don’t poke or bug the puppy when he is in the crate. If he starts to whine or bark it might mean that he needs to go potty.
After 48 hours of bringing him/her home, make sure you get your puppy to the vet. It is extremely important to make sure that he is healthy. Most puppy purchase contracts require an examination within the time frame above. If you don’t have the proof then the seller will most probably decline the pup’s return if he has a serious illness or any hereditary defect.
The first visit to the veterinarian can be a good opportunity for your puppy to see new surroundings and meet new people, get delicious treats and so on. After the visit, you can schedule the next round of vaccinations depending on when the last set took place.
Bedtime and Feeding
Feeding your puppy is not just about helping his growth but also it can be utilized in many different ways. By feeding your puppy, you can housetrain him, bond with him and help him learn the schedule that he needs to follow on a daily basis. When it comes to food, you should feed him what the shelter or breeder was giving him previously. If you wish to change the food then don’t do it right away, slowly mix the new food over a time period of 7 to 10 days so that your dog’s tummy functions well.
Most people believe in free feeding food to their dogs. For those of you who aren’t aware of the term, free-feeding means leaving food down all the time. I don’t recommend it at all since a regular mealtime makes your dog more disciplined and gives him something to look forward to. Also, it prevents obesity and you can know whenever he is eating less or eating more than required. In this first week of the puppy’s homecoming, you should hand-feed him. Measure his food properly and don’t give him too much. I would advise you to give him pieces of kibble from your hand as long as he is looking at you. Never reward him for barking, jumping up or doing something that you don’t like or puts everyone off. Also, remember to feed him in different areas of the house.
If you are walking away with his bowl and he follows you then give him some more. If you want to train him then sit in a chair or stand in the kitchen. Now you can start to ask him to do things including sit, down, spin, sing and so on in turn of treats. This would hardly take a few minutes per meal and any of your family members can do it.
The longer you hand-feed your puppy, the better it will be. As feeding for a longer time period will allow your puppy to develop a soft mouth. So he does not bite when he takes things from you and if he has a soft mouth then you prevent any harm that he might cause. It also teaches self-control and trust. It will allow him to learn that he does not need to rush whenever he is about to be fed.
Your puppy will socialize even at night and it might seem strange to you because you are both asleep at that time. You may want to let your puppy sleep on your bed but it is not a good idea since he is still too young for that. When it’s time for him to go to sleep, you should take him out in case of pee and thereafter, put him back in his crate with a treat. If he barks or whines, don’t respond to it and just tell him good night and go back to your bed. Eventually, he will settle down and your voice, breathing, and scent will calm him. Your puppy’s socialization continues through the night — even though you’re both asleep.
Depending on how old he is, it is possible that he might not be able to last an entire night with just one potty outing. You might want to take him out for another potty outing throughout the night. In case, you hear whining or the sound of him scratching at the crate door then take him outdoors so he can potty or pee. When he has done his job, put him back into the crate and don’t ever play with him in midnight as that will give a bad impression and would cost you your peace later on.
Now that you have a puppy, it is obvious that you have bought some toys for him to play with. Observe what toys your dog likes the most. If your dog chews up his toys a lot then make sure that you get him toys that are tough so that he doesn’t bite and swallow a piece of any toy to avoid serious injuries and problems. Avoid giving your dog any items that he can chew up or bite off as some dogs rapidly bite off and swallow pieces of toys. It is best to give them medium to large, tough rubber items, such as balls that they can’t take a bite out of.
Importance of Early Learning
A puppy’s critical learning period is when he is 7 to 12 weeks old and he would very likely fall in this age range when you first get him. During this time period, he will be able to soak up different kinds of information such as how he should behave, his surroundings and things of that nature.
The critical learning period for a dog lasts until he is 14 to 16 years of age. So you only have a few weeks to make the most of the rapid learning stage and teach him new things. He will easily soak up any information during this time period, be it good or bad. So, your goal must be to provide him/her with many positive experiences as you can with friendly people and other dogs.
The socialization process for a dog includes meeting your neighbors, learning different sounds in your home and neighborhood, going to the veterinarian, getting to know the surroundings and so on.
During the critical learning period, you should make your puppy meet at least 100 different people. By 100 I don’t mean just the same 10 people again and again. You can introduce him to your mailman, gardeners and even kids in your neighborhood. You can take him out on errands and for short car rides and also to local business, for instance, dry cleaners, post office, open-air shopping malls.
Having new experiences and meeting new people is very important for your puppy. It gives a broad experience to your puppy which will be very useful for him later on when he grows up. Also, keep in mind that a puppy who has met only friends, neighbors or middle-aged people won’t cope as well in comparison to when he meets people such as young children, people who are wearing uniforms, disabled people and people from different cultures.
During this time period, a little adversity is considered really good for your puppy’s adventurous soul. If the puppy faces moderate amount of stress during his socialization period then it would turn out to be really good for preparing him to be ready for different challenges in the future. You can give him different types of challenges such as putting him on top of a table or on the washing machine. These simple challenges will help him in developing a better sense and response when he grows up.
You can start training your dog at home in the first 2-3 weeks. This benefits you a lot since you are teaching him how to learn and also developing a strong relationship with him. If you consider it hard to train a dog then don’t worry as it is really easy to teach a dog simple commands like sit, down, come, high-five if you give him treats.
Once you have brought your puppy home, you should start to look for a good puppy kindergarten class as soon as possible. Until now, he would be around 10-12 weeks of age, vaccinated two times and ready to start school. If you are still in a confusion whether or not your puppy is ready for puppy kindergarten then you can ask your veterinarian.
If you think puppy kindergarten classes are a bad idea then you need to change your mind as they offer different socialization opportunities with friendly people and puppies. Trainers present there can help you in learning how to teach your dog throughout his life. Teaching new things to a dog keeps his mind active and body functioning well.
Here is a list of a few things that your puppy must learn
- No biting or jumping up on people!
- Never potty inside.
- Socializing and meeting friendly people.
- Visits to the vet are fun.