Congratulations! Few things are as invigorating as bringing home a new bundle of furry joy. We know you’re ecstatic about your new lifelong companion, so we’ve compiled our top five ways to ensure your puppy starts off on the right paw. From training to essential gear, and everything in between, set your puppy up for success with the following top tips.
#1: Make training a priority—from the start
The second your puppy is born, they are taking cues from their mother, litter mates, and caretaker on how to behave and function in their environment. From acting around other dogs, to taking orders from humans, and everything in between, these formative weeks are when your pup is most willing to accept change and respond to training. While you may need to wait several weeks to begin a formal obedience class, initial training—including housebreaking, basic commands, and teaching right from wrong—can and should begin the moment you bring your puppy home. Of course, you can’t expect an 8-week-old puppy to grasp complex commands, but introducing these concepts early will likely mean fewer headaches for you later.
#2: Prioritize socialization
Early age socialization is one of the most important concepts for understanding puppy raising. Proper socialization involves safely acclimating your young pet to a wide variety of animals, people, sounds, smells, and environments. The more varied your pet’s experiences early in life, the more likely they are to be a well-adjusted and well-behaved adult dog—and the timing is crucial. While providing socializing opportunities is important throughout your dog’s life, the prime time for this developmental period is between 3 and 14 weeks of age. Unfortunately, this ideal period also coincides with your puppy’s optimal vaccination schedule, with socialization possibly putting them at risk for certain infectious diseases, so practice safe socialization with your pup during this vulnerable time. Allow your puppy to interact with other pets who you know are up-to-date on their vaccines and who are currently healthy. Sign up for an organized puppy course at your local pet store, ensuring that participating pets are required to have received their initial immunizations. When allowed, bring your puppy with you to work, to a friend’s house, or for a simple car ride.
#3: Stock up on puppy essentials
While you don’t need to buy out Amazon’s pet section, you do need a few basic items on hand to make your and your pup’s lives easier—and more enjoyable. Here are some items to get you started:
- Puppy food and treats — The food you choose for your pet is one of your most important decisions. Choose one tailored to your pet’s breed and size, if possible, and always look for a reputable brand that follows the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on bite-sized training treats!
- Collar and leash — Introducing a collar and leash early will help your pup get accustomed quickly. For flat-nosed (i.e., brachycephalic) breeds like pugs or bulldogs, choose a harness rather than a neck collar.
- Crate and/or bedding — If you choose to crate-train your pup, start the process immediately. When confining your pet while you’re away from home, avoid leaving in the crate items such as blankets and toys they could destroy, or worse, ingest. And remember, always treat the crate as a safe haven, not a place of punishment.
- Dental and grooming supplies — Your pup may not have a thick fur coat yet, but when the time comes, you’ll want to be prepared. Acclimating your pet now to the sensation of brushing teeth, combing fur, and trimming nails will prove much easier as they age. Don’t forget to reward your pup throughout these processes with plenty of praise and training treats.
- Toys — While they may not seem necessary, toys are absolutely essential for a growing pup. Not only do toys provide mental and physical stimulation for a puppy’s developing body, but they also keep them occupied when you need a break—or to keep them from chewing your favorite pair of shoes.
#4: Understand that patience is key
From house training accidents to sleepless nights, puppies can test your patience. Before you bring your puppy home, make a list of possible frustrating scenarios. Then, when they occur, remind yourself that they are all normal and usually temporary. Since many puppies are relinquished to shelters because of obedience or house soiling difficulties, consider these situations before you bring a puppy home.
#5: Book your puppy’s initial appointment
At Village Animal Hospital, we are committed to the health and welfare of your new canine addition—and premium veterinary care is an excellent start. If you’ve recently adopted a puppy, contact us immediately to set up an initial consultation, where we will discuss vaccinations, parasite control, nutrition, and behavior guidance.
We can’t wait to meet your new furry friend! Contact us, and let us help you get them off to their best possible start.