Welcoming a new furry friend home is an exciting experience, but it's also a significant responsibility. As with a new baby, the first few days, weeks, and months are filled with joyful moments as well as some challenges. National Puppy Day is a great opportunity to celebrate the arrival of a new pup, but it's also the perfect time to prepare for the joys and obstacles of puppy parenthood.
It's essential to give your new puppy a safe place to rest, free from potential hazards like electrical cords, cleaning supplies, and trash bins. According to Arden, an exercise pen with a crate of appropriate size is an excellent way to keep your pup contained. As your new puppy matures and becomes comfortable with the crate, you can gradually stop using the exercise pen and focus on using the crate for short periods of time.
Dogs are social creatures and love to spend time with their families. However, you can't be around them all the time, so it's vital to prepare your pup for alone time. According to Arden, the best time to start is when your dog is most tired, and you should gradually increase the distance they are away from you as they build the comfort level.
To prevent unwanted behaviors such as barking, nipping, mouthing, and inappropriate chewing, Arden recommends giving your pup an occupation. Playing with food-stuffable dog toys is a great way to keep your puppy focused on a task. Fill the toys with your puppy's regular food or veterinarian-approved healthy treats and keep several in the refrigerator. Change up the toys regularly to keep your dog engaged.
Rotating your puppy's toys on a daily basis will keep them interested in their toys. Put away their favorite toy for a few hours or even a full day, then bring it back out to use as a reward for playing a training game. It will make the toy more appealing as a reward for a job well done.
When your puppy is not resting, keeping them on a very light leash can be used to curb nipping and mouthing, potty mistakes, and inappropriate chewing.
Puppies are known for being squirmy, so it's essential to hold them securely by placing your arm under their belly and up towards their chest, using your elbow to secure their hind end. Think of it as swaddling a baby, but using your whole arm and hand.
Encouraging good behavior with reward-based training is a must. Arden suggests that behaviors that are rewarded tend to increase in frequency. You can reward your pup for their behavior with a tiny amount of food, the toss or tug of a toy, or calm praise. It helps your puppy build strong learning muscles.
Puppies are like sponges and will absorb information about the world around them. It's important to help them become comfortable with being handled and groomed so that they're prepared for the routine maintenance of their coat and nails throughout their adult life.
Providing your puppy with a balance of physical exercise and calmer activities like playing a training game or independent play with a food-stuffed toy is essential. You might be surprised to learn that too little or too much exercise can both cause a puppy to have a more challenging time.
Having a specific training plan in place for your puppy is important. Rewarding them for specific behaviors that you want them to have when they're fully grown is a good starting point.