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10 Essential Tips and Tricks for New Puppy Owners

Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting and joyous occasion, but it also comes with a set of challenges and responsibilities. As a new puppy owner, you want to ensure that your furry friend gets the best possible start in life so you book onto your local Puppy School course - but it doesn’t start for a few weeks! To help you navigate the next few weeks of your journey, here are my top ten tricks and tips for new puppy owners!

1. Prepare Your Home

Before bringing your puppy home, puppy-proof your house. Pay attention to hazards such as electrical cords and keep harmful substances out of reach. Create a designated space for your puppy with a comfortable bed, water, and plenty of soft toys. Plan for a little naughtiness i.e. if you are getting a larger breed, make sure that there is nothing they can steal on the coffee table and set them up for success.

2. Choose the Right Food

Your breeder has probably given you a recommendation of what to feed your puppy, but it’s still best to do your own research into what is and isn’t good for puppies and how a poor diet can affect behaviour. Your puppy is already going to be energetic enough as it is so be careful that you are not giving anything with too high a carbohydrate content as these are slow release energy foods with carbs being converted into sugars. Instead, aim for something high protein, low carb and utilise meal times for training and enrichment. Feed wet and raw food on a lickimat or similar and hand feed your puppy's kibble. This is great for bond building! Check out www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk if you would like to compare foods.

3. Teach your puppy to follow a food lure

While you’re hand feeding your puppy, teach them to follow a lure. Pinch the treat between your thumb and fingers and see if you can get your puppy to follow the food for a few steps before rewarding. Use this to move your puppy rather than physical manipulation whenever possible.

4. Toilet Training

Be patient when it comes to toilet training. Establish a consistent routine for bathroom breaks and reward your puppy when they do their business outside. I tend to recommend puppies go out at least once per hour but also take them out immediately following naps, periods of play and meals. Accidents will happen, but positive and proactive approach is the key to successful toilet training!

5. Socialisation

Early socialisation is essential for your puppy's well-being. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments to help them grow up to be well-adjusted and confident dogs. Carry your puppy places until they are fully vaccinated and let them start to see the world in all it’s glory! You can also play with them at home getting them to explore unfamiliar surfaces and climb on low level objects. This will help to teach them a bit more spatial awareness

 

6. Exercise and Play

Puppies have a lot of energy and need regular exercise and playtime. Provide plenty of long, soft toys and engage in interactive play to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy, but it’s not all about running ragged in the park. As a guide, we recommend 5 minutes of exercise per month of age so we need to fill those gaps with plenty of sniffing, exploration and enrichment too.

7. Handling and Grooming

Depending on your puppy's breed, grooming requirements will vary. Regular handling and grooming from an early age can teach your puppy to accept this as normal as well as building a trusting, consent-based relationship and prepare them for vet / grooming visits later in life. Take your time and gradually introduce them to their collar and harness, lead, towel and brush. You may have some weeks until your puppy can go on their first walk but if we use this time to make nice associations with the lead and collar then they will feel nice and comfortable when they go on their first walk.

8. Sleep

Sleep is so important to young puppies and overtiredness manifests itself as a puppy with plenty of energy still to give. Your puppy should be sleeping between 16 and 18 hours per day at this age so making plenty of time to settle and nap throughout the day is vital. Diet and exercise levels are huge players when it comes to your puppy's ability to nap so make sure you’ve got those right. We have seen good results with Adaptil collars for excitable puppies. This calming synthetic pheromone can help your puppy to relax if they are still acclimatising to their new surroundings. 

9. Patience and Positivity

Puppies are like sponges, absorbing everything around them. Reward good behaviour and avoid punishment as they don’t really understand what they have done wrong. If you find your puppy doing something undesirable, ask yourself what you would rather they were doing and teach that instead. Patience is key as your puppy learns and grows. Plan for the times that you need to do other things such as shower or prepare meals and settle your puppy with a nice appropriate chew to keep them happy and occupied in the mean time

 

10. Love and Bonding

Most importantly, shower your puppy with love and attention. Building a strong bond with your furry friend is essential for a happy and well-adjusted adult dog. Spend quality time together, train little and often, cuddle, and enjoy the journey of watching your puppy grow.

 

In conclusion, being a new puppy owner is a rewarding experience, but it comes with its own set of challenges. By following these ten essential tips, you’ll be well on your way to raising a happy, healthy and well-behaved puppy. Remember that every puppy is unique so be sure to adapt these tips to suit your puppy's individual needs and enjoy the incredible journey of puppy parenthood!

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