Now you have your new Puppy Home! What do you do? Where do you start?
by Laura Pakis, Cynologist, and Professional Dog Trainer
Relax! This will be a fun time for both of you! Just follow a few simple rules…
Not in bed with you! Give your puppy their own space. Usually, a wire crate is better than plastic since your puppy can see more. Some puppies seem more comfortable when they are confined. In either case, get a crate big enough for them to use when grown. Please don’t add a mat until they are house-trained. Many times a puppy will eliminate on the mat since it is absorbent.
Grooming your puppy
Check your puppy’s ears for dirt. You can use ear swabs to clean out the wax or wash them using baby wipes that don’t contain alcohol. Practice trimming their nails. Do only a few at a time. You want them to have a positive experience. Should your puppy pull away when clipping, hold their foot and tell them “No” in a soothing voice. Then clip once more and end that session. Continue the next day following the same pattern. Be sure to check your puppy’s mouth. Practice having your puppy face outward while you have them in the “V” of your legs. This is less threatening than facing the puppy. Rub their teeth and gums often. Add finger cots and dog toothpaste later when they are comfortable. Consider performing a “snout to tail” examination every other day. It will ultimately help your puppy be comfortable being touched all over, which is a godsend for veterinarians and groomers.
Some Do’s and Don’ts with your puppy
- Please don’t carry your puppy. This can cause problems in the future with self-confidence.
- You are now your puppy’s leader. Do encourage your puppy to “check it out.” Reassure them to sniff and touch things they are shying away from.
- Encourage your puppy to greet people by teaching them, “Say Hi.”
- Your puppy is learning about their environment. Do not let your puppy roam free without supervision. A crate is a safe place for your puppy. Please crate them while you are away. Also, consider crating your puppy when you are home. This gets them accustomed to being on their own and keeps them safe and out of trouble.
Food and Toy Aggression
During each meal, sit and pet your puppy, put your fingers in their dish while you talk soothingly to them. Should your puppy growl or snap, correct them with a firm “NO” and remove their food. After 5 seconds or so, return their meal to them. Repeat this pattern until they accept you there. As an alternative, feed your puppy by hand for a few days. Always remember to praise them when they are eating appropriately. When offering treats to your puppy, don’t allow them to grab them. You can hold the treat tightly between your thumb and forefinger when you offer the treat. If they try to grab, tell them, “NO Gentle,” Repeat until they take the treat gently from you without biting your fingers.
All puppies mouth. It’s their way of playing with their littermates. Mouthing on us should not be allowed. It could have your dog labeled as aggressive later on. As sharp as your puppy’s teeth are now when they grow up, their teeth will be bigger, and so will their jaw pressure. Stopping this behavior when they are young is much easier than correcting it later in life. There is a specific hold you can perform, which will teach your puppy it is inappropriate to mouth you. When performing this hold, your puppy will cry and squirm! Don’t let go until they are calm. Then praise them with “Good Puppy.” If they bite again, repeat the hold. Patterns take a bit of time to be eliminated and usually increase before they get better. Usually, you will see improvement in a couple of days. At that point, all you have to say is “No Bite.” Then praise.
By teaching your puppy boundaries now, you will have an easier time training them, and they will have fewer behavior issues. Just remember, the first year of your puppy’s life is all about teaching them how to behave in the new world of humans.