The big day is finally here, and you’re a brand new pet parent! You just can’t wait to get that squirmy little bundle of love home and settle into life with your new puppy. Before you get too comfortable, there’s a checklist of things you need to do.
Have you found a vet yet? Did you puppy proof? How are you going to handle puppy care while you’re at work? Do you have the right kind of food? What about grooming?
There’s a dizzying amount of things you need to take care of before your puppy even walks in the front door. Not to mention all of the questions that pop up once you actually bring your new fur baby home.
Don’t worry! There are numerous resources out there to get you started. If this is your first experience with puppy parenthood, we’re here to get you the help you need. We have some helpful tips as well as resources you can use along the way. Being a pet parent can be challenging, but we’re here to help you navigate your puppy journey safely and be the best pet parent you can be.
Puppy Parenting Tips
If this is your first puppy, you may be feeling at a loss about what to do first. We’ve included some tips for things you can start preparing for before your puppy even comes home from the breeder.
Have a veterinarian selected, and have an initial appointment set up.
Puppy proof your house. This means removing hazards like dangling cords, removing chewing temptation, and placing toxic items in non-puppy accessible places.
If you can, take some time off work to help your puppy adjust. We call this ‘pawternity leave’.
Research a good dog walker to help your puppy socialize and get the potty breaks they need while you’re away.
Once your puppy is home, you want to give them a head start on becoming a well-rounded dog. Start working on building trust and good habits right away.
Start working on basic commands. Don’t make your training session long, since puppies don’t have long attention spans, but you can absolutely start positive reinforcement training right away.
Give your puppy time with other dogs. The first three months of life are the optimum time for them to learn how to socialize with other dogs. If you’re worried because they haven’t had their full round of vaccines, sign them up for an age-specific training course so the other pups there will be at the same stage of vaccination.
Make sure you have plenty of play-time with your puppy to help build your bond.
Make sure your pup is getting enough exercise. Running in the yard alone isn’t enough. Consistent leash walks help stimulate your dog mentally because of the new smells, sights, and sounds. Plus, they give your puppy much-needed time with you. A dog that is well exercised in body and mind will have better behavior.
Be patient. Your puppy is learning about the world and will get into some mischief. If you are consistent in your expectations and use positive reinforcement, your puppy will soon learn how to navigate the world.
Those sweet puppy days won’t last forever. At about 5 months old, puppies hit adolescence. For dogs this is like the “terrible twos” combined with the teen years. This can be a challenging stage that requires patience and understanding.
Some common “teen phase” behaviors include:
Training set-backs. They may suddenly seem to “forget” everything they’ve learned up to that point.
Sudden shyness around new people and dogs, even in a puppy that has been friendly and well socialized.
Trauma-induced anxiety is more common at this age.
They might start to act more interested in things that aren’t you.
Sudden changes in sleep schedule.
This is all normal. You need to be patient and ride it out. These behavior changes are all part of your puppy’s brain development. To make it through this admittedly trying stage, do your best to set your puppy up for success.
Keep working on training. He might act uninterested, but keep at it. It really is making a difference.
Make sure to continue leash walks and socializing. As your pup’s brain develops, you need to continue to let him learn to properly behave around other people and dogs. You also need to continue to reinforce your bond. Remember, at this stage, they’re a rebellious teen, but knowing that you are there and consistent with your expectations makes them more secure.
Finding Resources To Help With Your New Puppy
Parenting a puppy is fun, challenging, and so rewarding. Of course, you’re nervous and want to do it right. If you need a little extra help, remember, there’s a wealth of knowledge out there.
Some people who are always willing to help are:
The breeder- Reputable, responsible breeders have a vested lifetime interest in the lives of every puppy that comes from them. If you need the name of a good veterinarian, a trainer, or have basic breed questions, they are willing to help. After all, they want their puppy placements to be successful and the puppies to lead happy, healthy lives.
Your veterinarian- Vets don’t just answer medical questions. They may not have answers to training or grooming questions since those aren’t their fields, but they can make recommendations and find you someone who can help.
Books- There are numerous wonderful books written for brand new puppy owners.
Some books to look for include:
“Puppies For Dummies” is an excellent read for novice dog owners. It focuses on positive reinforcement and walks you through the stages of puppy development.
Don’t Shoot The Dog!: The New Art Of Teaching and Training helps explain the thinking behind positive reinforcement training. It walks you through clicker training and explains how to use positive reinforcement in a way that is easy to understand.
The Dog Friendly Living App- Our app is a must-have resource for every dog parent. It offers free downloadable resources that can help you troubleshoot life with a dog of any age. It offers you the chance to engage with a welcoming community of dog parents, which is such a great source of support in the early puppy days.
The app also gives you the opportunity to access our Puppy Prep Course for a fee. This course is a worthy investment in your puppy. It will give you the tools to approach puppy parenthood, feeling totally prepared. With the Dog Friendly Living Puppy Prep Course, you will go from a nervous new puppy mom to a confident dog mom in charge.