Many new puppy caretakers have no idea what is in store for them once they bring that bundle of furry joy into their lives. It may not be all fun and games in the beginning because there is work to be done! Your puppy needs your help to understand how to behave in the home you will share together. Before you are tempted to say “I am not cut out for this,” know these challenges of having a new puppy are not uncommon and there are ways to help.
Puppies love to chew, dig, gnaw and nibble on inanimate objects. They may even try to bite your fingers and toes if they are in play mode. Naturally rambunctious, it isn’t uncommon for you to come home to a half-eaten shoe, sofa cushions dug up onto the floor or rips and tears on the bottom of long curtains. Although frustrating, there are ways you can help break the habit. When you are home, interrupt their behavior of the object they should not be chewing on by a loud noise or the sound of your voice in a powerful tone. Then, provide them with a dog chew toy and reward them with a pleasant tone and affection for taking the dog chew toy instead of whichever object you want them to stop gnawing on. Avoid giving them old shoes, socks or personal belongings you are looking to discard as this can confuse them about what is acceptable to use as a chew toy.
Potty training is one of the biggest challenges of having a new puppy. Even if you consult with a dog trainer, you have to a majority of the work yourself because you and your new puppy live together. Establishing a schedule is essential. When does your puppy need to use the bathroom? The feeding routine goes hand-in-hand with their bathroom breaks.
Keep a regular feeding schedule and do not leave food out between meals. It is beneficial to give them a nutritious puppy multivitamin to keep them healthy between meals as well. Puppies need a lot of water so keep a water dish available at all times. A typical puppy potty training schedule is first thing in the morning, after every meal, waking from a nap, before they are left alone and right before bedtime. It may even be wise to take them out every 30 minutes to an hour as some breeds have smaller bladders than others. Take them to the same spot whenever you take them out for a bathroom break. The smell of their own scent will help them do their business. A reward or treat afterwards will also reinforce their training.
Puppies need boat loads of attention! This is especially true if you only have one dog in the house. They are more involved than when having toddlers who learn how to play and entertain themselves rather quickly in comparison. They may be “attached to your hip,” for the first year. This is one of the joys of having a furry friend. However, it can become a little tiresome if you aren’t prepared or unfamiliar with giving this much attention. These attention-seeking behavioral traits such as jumping, barking, stealing objects and pawing at you incessantly can be caused by boredom, anxiety and a need for touch.
If you spent the first couple of weeks adoring them to going back to a more rigid schedule, this can cause confusion and a greater need for attention. You can teach your puppy patience by not allowing the behavior to continue. When they start up, try not to yell or push them away. This still signals a reward to them. Instead, wait until they have all four paws on the ground or they are sitting calmly before giving them a treat and a pat on the head. More exercise is another option. They are big balls of energy that may need to exert throughout the day. It is helpful to spend time with them outdoors, playing and running.
If you want your new puppy to be comfortable around other dogs and people, socialization is key. It is important to start socialization within the first few months of having a puppy. This could be as simple as taking them to a dog park, letting them meet other dogs in the neighborhood or inviting company over the home more frequently in their early development. This will prevent them from being anxious around new people, animals and places in the future. If your puppy has some deeper emotional issues because of their treatment from before they were brought into your life, you can try dog calming soft chews. They can naturally help relieve your dog's fear and anxiety.
Leash training is another important part of overcoming challenges with your new puppy. You want to introduce the collar to your new puppy to start. Allow them to sniff the collar beforehand. Gently place the collar around their necks. Next, introduce the leash. Allow them to sniff the leash beforehand. Gently add the leash to their collar. Give them a treat as a reward whenever you place the leash on them. Many dogs may not move once you place the leash on them. This is normal behavior. Drop the leash and allow them to drag the leash around briefly to get comfortable with it. Keep an eye on them! You don’t want them to get tangled up in it.
Pick up the leash and make a clicking noise or high pitched tone to get them to start moving. They may be tempted to run ahead of you outside. Practice patience. Stop bad leash behavior immediately. Avoid tugging or pulling their leash. Simply stop walking each time they begin the bad behavior. When they heel or walk calmly, reward them with a pat on the head and a treat.
Having a new puppy can take a lot of time, patience and energy! It is worth it once you can overcome the challenges with practical solutions for puppy care. Always be sure to reinforce healthy habits and good behavior in the early years of your furry friends life.