Bringing home a new puppy is a really exciting time and one that can be made a lot easier with the right planning before you get your puppy. We’ve put together a list of some things we think are important for people to think of before they bring their puppy home.
Puppy Toys and Equipment
A lot of people do get themselves organised before a puppy comes home by purchasing crates and bedding, food bowls, collars and leashes, food and other basics they think their puppy will need. I’ve known excited puppy-parents-to-be who’ve bought bags full of toys before their puppy has even been born! While it’s important to have everything you need ready for when the puppy comes home, don’t go overboard buying gimmicky products like puppy pee pads and make sure what you do buy is quality equipment appropriate for your puppy. Almost every new puppy owner I meet buys their puppy one of those thick rope toys, which the puppy can’t even get their mouth around. It’s no use buying your puppy toys they can’t easily play with! Our leather bite rags, French linen puppy tugs and Flirt Poles are a great alternative to the rope toys and are a much safer option for a puppy to play with.
Boredom busting toys like Planet Dog Orbos or Bob-a-Lots which you can fill with food are also great to have on hand when you’re raising a puppy, as they not only teach your puppy how to entertain itself when you are out but it can help alleviate boredom and assist you with stopping any separation anxiety from developing. Your puppy doesn’t need a dozen toys available when you leave the house, in fact often when people leave their puppy with so much choice the puppy doesn’t play with any of the toys. Keep it interesting for your puppy by providing them with interactive toys to help bust boredom and if you have a number of toys, change them around every day so your puppy only has access to one or two toys at a time.
If you have a toy like an Orbo or Bob-a-Lot you can fill it with your puppy’s breakfast before you leave for the day so your puppy gets mental stimulation at the same time as their meals, which will help wear them out when you aren’t there. These toys are super for when you want your puppy to learn how to be on its own, whereas toys like tugs are designed for teaching your puppy how to play with you.
Food dispensing toys are a great way to teach your puppy how to self settle on its own, in warmer months you can fill them with stock and freeze them for a beefy or chicken flavoured ice block!
We recently had a question on our Facebook page about what stuffing’s you use in your toys; there are some great recipes there!
Crate Training and Confinement
One of the biggest mistakes we see puppy owners make is bringing their puppy home and allowing their pup to have free access to the house. This can make toilet training and teaching the pup appropriate house manners extremely difficult, not to mention making raising a puppy very stressful for the owners. We give everyone who buys a crate from us a free crate training program and we can’t stress more how useful crate training is when it comes to raising a puppy.
Before bringing a puppy home decide on an area in the house where you’d like to set up the puppy’s crate and puppy pen if you have one. We recommend setting this area up somewhere central in the house so the puppy can be with you without having free access to the house. By having a puppy pen and crate it means your puppy is always contained in a safe area when you aren’t able to supervise them, which not only helps to avoid any toileting accidents, but also stops the puppy from destroying items it shouldn’t and keeps the puppy safe from any potential harm.
Confinement also helps teach the puppy to self settle and to relax when it’s away from you. Set up this area before your puppy comes home so your puppy has its own area from day one!
Introducing Other Dogs
Another common mistake people make when they bring their puppy home is allowing the puppy to become too attached and dependent on their older dogs. There are many reasons we advise owners to keep puppies and other dogs separated – puppies raised to run with other dogs can develop too high a value for other dogs which can make training a lot harder later on, they can struggle if they have to be separated and often don’t learn how to self settle and cope with being on their own. It can also be unsafe to run puppies with older, larger dogs – it is easy for a puppy to get hurt in rough play even if it’s by accident. I also don’t want my puppy to learn to look to my other dogs for guidance, and I don’t want my other dogs to teach my puppy habits that I don’t like. At the very least, if you have a multiple dog household, make sure your puppy learns how to settle happily on their own.
Puppy class can be great or disastrous, check out our article on Puppy Schools – the Good the Bad and the Ugly to learn more about what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to a puppy class.
Raising and Training Your Puppy
Whether you are getting a puppy to be a family pet and companion or you also have dog sports or working goals for your puppy it’s important to have a plan in place from the day you bring your puppy home so you know what behaviours you are going to train and how you are going to raise your puppy. If you have other family members or people in the house it’s important to discuss this with them before the puppy comes home and agree on what rules and boundaries you’ll have in place when you bring the puppy home. What things are important to you? Some things to consider:
– Where will the puppy sleep?
– Who will feed the puppy?
– Who is going to be in charge of basic training with the puppy?
– Will the puppy be allowed on the furniture or in certain rooms of the house, or will there be areas that are off limits to the puppy?
– What are your ultimate goals for your puppy – do you want a competition or working dog, or a well behaved pet?
Decide on these things before bringing the puppy home so you teach the puppy what the rules will be from day one. It is far easier to teach the puppy the right behaviours and habits from day one than it is to change the rules once the puppy is bigger and habits have already been developed.
When you bring your puppy home use that first day to show the puppy ‘this is what the rest of your life will be like’. Think about what you want in an adult dog and shape those behaviours in your puppy from day one. Don’t want until bad habits have developed to start training – for example if you want to make sure your puppy grows into a dog that walks nicely on the leash, make sure you never let your puppy learn that pulling on the leash is the way to get where they want to go. If you want a dog with a reliable recall, start training and rewarding your puppy for recalling from the start.
Dogs need to learn how to learn – so start training with your pup from the time you bring it home rather than waiting until bad behaviours develop to start training. Puppies don’t need to know a million and one commands and tricks by the time they are 10 weeks old, but playing games, teaching them how to learn, showing them how the ‘game’ works and how to earn rewards will not only help your puppy learn how to be operant but it will help to build your puppy’s focus and value for you. Building a good relationship with your puppy is one of the most important things you can do and something that will benefit you for the life of your dog.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with your puppy or simply want to learn more about how to raise your puppy the right way, don’t feel you have to wait until bad behaviours and habits develop to see a trainer or attend training classes. Training should be about preventing problems from arising, the puppy owners who come to us for training before problems arise are always so grateful they did so as it sets them up on the right path from early on.
So to recap – some top tips for bringing your puppy home from Team K9 Pro!
1) Prepare yourself for your puppy coming home by buying good quality, appropriate toys and equipment.
2) Set your puppy up to win by teaching them how to self settle and entertain themselves when you aren’t there.
3) Set up a puppy proof area in your house so your puppy can be safely contained when you aren’t home or aren’t able to supervise them.
4) Consider crate training – you won’t regret it!
5) If you live in a multiple dog household, make sure your puppy has time on it’s own away from the other dogs. If you are going to let them interact, do so under strict supervision to make sure your puppy doesn’t accidentally get hurt in rough play. Don’t be afraid to intervene if play gets too rough.
6) If you are going to take your puppy to puppy classes do your research beforehand to make sure the classes will be of benefit, not to the detriment, of your puppy.
7) Have a plan and agree with other members of your household on how you are going to raise your puppy before your puppy comes home. Know what rules and boundaries you will put in place so you can make sure you are consistent when the puppy comes home.
8 ) Be consistent with your puppy from day one so that the right behaviours and habits develop – train to prevent problems from arising!
9) Teach your puppy how to learn! Teaching your puppy how to learn, building their ability to focus on you and their value for you will benefit your relationship for the life of your puppy.
10) Don’t be afraid to seek professional help and guidance when it comes to raising your puppy. See a trainer or go to a good training class – as dog owners we never stop learning and starting off on the right track from day one will help to prevent any bad behaviours or habits from developing.