If your love for dogs has finally convinced you to get a dog and you are new to the dog parenting world, then you’re in for a wild, fun, love-filled ride. In my humble opinion, dogs are by far, the best and most rewarding companions to spend time with. However, there is also a significant responsibility that comes with owning a dog. You are responsible for your dog’s health, safety, and behavior. Every dog is different and has different needs, but we have come up with a guide that works for all dog breeds. However, it is you who needs to implement it according to your dog’s requirements.
Building a Relationship
The first thing you need to do is get your dog accustomed to being around you and in your home. For puppies, the adjustment period is usually 48-72 hours. During this time, try not to overwhelm your new pup by bringing him all over town and introducing him to all your distant relatives. Allow him to take in his new environment in the most stress-free way possible. Introduce him to his crate and a small area of the house where he’ll be spending most of his time. Introduce him to the outside world but try to limit this because he doesn’t have all of his vaccinations. A quiet section of the backyard would be best. For dogs that have had previous owners or are coming from a shelter/rescue, the adjustment period could be a bit longer. These dogs already have preconceived notions of the world, people, and other dogs. However, the same rules apply when it comes to not overwhelming them. One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your new pup is to establish clear boundaries from the moment you bring him home. Determine where he is and is not allowed to go and determine what he is and is not allowed to do. Whenever your pup tries to go somewhere or do something, ask yourself, “Am I ok with him doing this for the rest of his life?” If the answer is yes, you can allow it. If the answer is no, teach him what he should do or where he should go instead.
Just like new parents set up a nursery for the baby they’re expecting, new dog owners need to buy some essentials as well. Obviously, your new pup needs to eat, so you’ll want to pick up a quality dog food, a feeding bowl, and a water bowl. We’ll do another blog on quality dog foods, but for now, check the ingredients list and make sure the food is comprised of high-quality ingredients. If the first ingredient in your dog’s food is wheat or some chicken by-product, move on to the next food.
Next, you’ll need a crate. Again, we’ll talk about the process of crate training in a later blog, but you basically need a crate sized properly to your dog. Too big is just as bad as too small. Instead, think Goldilocks and get one that’s just right. You can put a few old blankets in there if you’d like but be prepared for them to get ruined. At the end of the day, your pup doesn’t need these blankets and will likely destroy them, but they can help make younger puppies comfortable in a new environment. Baby gates or a playpen can also be helpful to teach your new pup boundaries and keep him in his area.
I also suggest getting a comfortable bed (this can be oversized so he can grow into it) or a pet cot. This can be where your pup hangs out when he’s not playing or in his crate. You’ll need a leash and a collar as well. I always suggest keeping your new puppy on a leash when you’re with him in the house. This will help keep him out of trouble and help you when you want to call him to you. Make sure he’s not wearing the leash if you have to leave him alone.
Training starts from day one. One mistake new dog owners make is that they leave their dog ‘free’ because they are trying to become friends. They think no restrictions will help the dog settle more quickly, but that is a huge mistake and will be detrimental to your pup’s upbringing. Set the tone from day one and remember that every interaction you have with your puppy is a learning experience for him. He’s learning what he is and what he is not allowed to do.
In the early stages, housebreaking is the most important training you’ll be doing. Teaching your dog to respect the home by not soiling inside it will go a long way when it comes to raising a well-balanced pup. Obedience training and socialization are also critical components to raising a new puppy. From the very beginning, use your pup’s daily kibble to teach him to come, sit, lay down, go to his bed, and go into his crate. Practice these every day for several weeks, and he’ll be well on his way to being a superstar. When you socialize your new dog with other people, start slowly. Let him meet one new persona and then another. Try not to overwhelm him by bringing the whole family over at once. When you socialize with other dogs, do this in smaller settings as well. Make sure to bring your new pup around calm and well-balanced dogs.
At five months, your pup will be ready for off-leash obedience training. This can be done later in life, but the sooner you do it, the less likely he is to have developed bad habits. At this point, he’s ready to be proofed around distractions and can be trained like the dogs in our videos so that you can bring him anywhere and everywhere with you!
Most importantly, this little furball is going to be your best friend for the next decade-plus, so remember to have fun!
Warmest Wags & Woofs,