By Jodi Westrick
Congratulations! You've decided to adopt a puppy or have already brought a new puppy to his forever home. Whether you're experienced with pets or adopting for the first time, here are ten helpful tips to help with your active puppy!
One: Prepare Your Home for Your New Puppy
Just like one would baby-proof their home for a new child, so should you for your new puppy. Why? You would not believe just how much your puppy can get into. Also, it's important to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your puppy. Start by removing poisonous plants and toxins, purchasing electrical cord protectors from your local hardware store, and removing anything that he could potentially chew. Make sure that you have plenty of safe chew toys for your puppy so he doesn't destroy things he shouldn't (like your shoes)!
Two: Take Your Puppy to the Vet
While most shelters will do their best to provide for the puppies while in their care, it's impossible for them to diagnose and treat every pet. So one of the first things you should do after bringing your puppy home is set up a vet appointment to get him checked out. Your vet will also be able to provide important information on vaccinations, flea and tick control and more. Most recommend that you set up the vet appointment within the first two weeks of bringing your new puppy home since it's discouraged to take your puppy to public places before properly vaccinated.
Three: Start Socializing Your Pup Early
The best age to socialize your pup is between 3 and 12 weeks of age. After 12 weeks, it becomes increasingly difficult to introduce your puppy to new places, people and things. For tips on how to socialize your puppy, check out this article.
Four: Exercise Your Puppy Regularly
Chances are your new puppy will be a little bundle of energy (when he's not napping, that is). Making sure he gets the right amount of exercise is important to his overall health. One of the easiest ways to exercise your puppy is with a daily walk. For tips on leash-training your puppy, check out this article.
Five: Housebreak Your Puppy
This can be a time-consuming process. It's important to know that your puppy should be taken out about every two hours up to six times a day - and especially after meals. You should look for signs that your puppy has to go and attempt to get him on a regular schedule. If you aren't able to take him out with that great of frequency, you should crate train your puppy or limit his roaming access by gating him into a small space like a bathroom or kitchen. Most dogs will not soil where they sleep. But above all, be consistent in whatever method you choose - this is key to getting your puppy on track!
Six: Know Who to Trust
It's easy to turn to the Internet if your puppy is behaving strangely or has hurt himself or if you just want general advice. However, not everyone on the Internet knows as much as your vet will. If you have a concern about your pet's health or behavior, trust your gut and make an appointment with your vet to get him checked out as soon as possible.
Seven: Reward Your Puppy's Good Behavior
In the first few weeks that you have your puppy at home, it may seem that he's misbehaving more than he's behaving. Even so, it's important to reward your puppy whenever he does something good as that will help him understand better and learn quicker. Waiting til he's misbehaving to give him attention won't help him or you!
Eight: Obedience Train Your Puppy
While the benefits of getting a new puppy far outweigh any negatives, that doesn't mean that everyday with your new pup will be perfect. In order to help your puppy quickly learn what you expect of him and how he should behave, attempt to teach him skills such as sitting for a treat or coming when called. Proper obedience courses for puppies usually don't begin until they're three to four months in age (mostly to make sure dogs are properly vaccinated), so once your pup is ready to go, enroll him in a class to learn more basic skills.
Nine: Be Consistent
One of the best things you can do for your pet is be consistent in how you raise him in your home. Be good about serving meals at regular times and taking him out around the same time each day. If you reward your puppy for doing something, don't reprimand him for it later. Your puppy will get used to you and will come to understand how things work in your home.
Ten: Enjoy Your New Puppy and Take Lots of Photos!
Your puppy will grow up so fast, so be sure to enjoy every moment with him - even if he can be frustrating from time to time. You've done a great thing by giving your puppy a forever home - be sure to enjoy your time together! Document your moments together by taking many photos - people will want to see your new little bundle of joy.