Puppies! They’re adorable to watch… irresistible to cuddle with… very active (when they aren’t sleeping)… and know NOTHING about living with us humans (yet). Yes, a new furry family member can be very stressful, especially if this is your first dog or haven’t had a puppy in a while.
Your puppy is learning during every waking moment —
the second you bring him/her home!
Every interaction you have with your puppy molds his/her behaviors — good or bad. So, this is the time to ask yourself what behaviors you want to live with for the next 15+ years.
Here’s a very common example: if you don’t want your dog to jump on you when he becomes full grown, DON’T let your puppy jump on you NOW. We humans actually TEACH dogs to greet us by jumping on us every time we pick them up, pet them, talk to them, give them a toy/treat, etc. when their feet are touching us. Unfortunately, this isn’t so cute when they’re full grown, have dirty paws, scratch our legs, jump on guests, etc.
THIS IS NOT A BEHAVIOR A PUPPY OUTGROWS. YOUR PUPPY WILL ACTUALLY PERFECT JUMPING ON PEOPLE OVER TIME.
It’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed when you first bring your puppy home. Following these 3 simple tips will alleviate a ton of frustration, allowing you to ENJOY your puppy even more right away!
1.) Prepare Before Bringing Your Puppy Home
- Set up the necessary supplies, in the perfect spots. Have an appropriate-sized crate as close to the “potty break” door as possible, and another in your bedroom. This is ultra-convenient for all family members to get puppy outside quickly to avoid accidents. The crates should be big enough for your puppy to stand up, lift his head & turn around to get comfortable, but not so big that he can sleep on one end & pee/poop on the other. Tip: If you have a large breed puppy, buy the biggest crate & use the divider wall to “shrink” your puppy’s sleeping area; simply move the divider wall as your puppy grows.
- Gather lots of puppy-appropriate chew toys. I highly recommend Nylabones and Kongs, especially when your puppy is resting in his crate. (Pacifiers for puppies!) In AND out of the crate, these safe toys give your puppy appropriate objects to chew on instead of your belongings, or worse — YOU! Avoid giving your puppy plush (stuffed) toys that will encourage her to chew on similar textures in your house… throw pillows, slippers, blankets, socks, etc. Also avoid squeak toys, which may actually turn on your dog’s prey/chase drive & cause her to get even more excited (& bitey).
- Stock up on healthy reward treats. You’re going to go through a bunch of ‘em, so get the biggest bag possible. I recommend Zuke’s Minis, in multiple flavors so you can see which your pup prefers most. They don’t have fillers like corn, wheat, soy, & don’t contain crazy chemicals like many of the other brands. These treats are already tiny, & they’re soft so you can break them up to be even tinier nibbles. Remember, the idea is to reward often so your pup wants to continue learning. Too many treats at once will fill up your pup quickly & he’ll lose his interest in you & learning. Chewy.com will likely be your favorite online shopping for these; their prices and selection are terrific, delivery is lightening-fast, & you can subscribe to auto-ships to save even more money!
- While you’re on Chewy.com, get a lightweight 5-6’ leash & an adjustable collar — puppies grow fast! Your puppy needs to get used to wearing both ASAP.
2.) Engagement Games — GOAL: You become the center of your puppy’s world. This is incredibly important the first couple of weeks you have your puppy. You need to get to know each other & create a trustworthy, reliable bond. (Isn’t this why we get dogs in the first place?)
Name Game — say your puppy’s name & give him a treat each time he looks at you.
What’s That Sound? Game — make a unique verbal noise (like a high-pitched “boop boop”, a whistle, kissy noise, etc.) & give pup a treat each time he looks at you. This will give you two ways to get your dog’s attention when distracted. This game works best once your pup has mastered the Name Game.
ALL Games Include You — only give your puppy toys when you are playing with him/her. At this point, your puppy has only played with his/her littermates, which is MUCH different than how humans play. Those razor-sharp puppy teeth HURT! Your puppy needs to learn how to play with YOU vs. another dog. Again, we DON’T want your puppy to get used to shredding/de-stuffing toys that have the same texture as your throw pillows, slippers, blankets, clothes you’re wearing, etc. When playtime is over, put the toy out of your pup’s reach and give him a safe chew to focus on.
3.) Supervise & Interrupt — This is, by far, the most important aspect of teaching your pup acceptable vs. inappropriate behaviors. Puppy attention spans are very, very, very (did I say “very”!) short. We only have a split second between your puppy doing something and either rewarding or interrupting him. After that, your puppy has moved on to something else & has no idea what you’re talking about. This is where confinement (crates) and a leash are vital! The most common mistake puppy owners make is giving their puppy too much freedom, too soon.
The most critical development stage is the
first 16 weeks of your puppy’s life.
Every interaction and experience — good and bad — and every reactive behavior — good and bad — plays an important role in the dog you are going to live with for the next 15+ years. It is far easier to mold your puppy into the dog you want him to be NOW, then to break bad habits in the future.
What Is Socialization & Why Is It Important?
Socialization is the exposure & introduction your puppy gets to new people (all ages, sizes, colors, gaits, etc.), new sounds, sights, smells… even objects that he touches. If those experiences are positive, your puppy will mature to be confident, well-rounded & easy-going. If any of the experiences are negative, your puppy may become fearful or even defensive when exposed to that stimuli in the future.
The #1 reason for a dog to react aggressively is the lack of
Even if you never teach your dog a single command at any point in his life, socialize him NOW and you’ll both live much happier lives together.
Every puppy is unique. My curriculum has a flexible structure so we can prioritize your concerns during every 60–minute lesson.
The clock is ticking! Let’s get started!