Set your new puppy up for success with these 5 tips.
Welcoming home a new dog or puppy is an exciting time. But along with the fun, there are some serious decisions you need to make. Decisions that will determine how well your new dog adjusts to her new family, and vice versa.
Here are 5 tips for a successful transition for your new four-legged family member.
Start training immediately. It is never too early to start training your dog. As soon as you bring your puppy home you can start potty training and grooming, setting basic rules such as no jumping, ensuring appropriate chewing, and introducing him to walking equipment like a collar or harness and leash. Use rewards not punishments, and don’t overtax your puppy. Enrolling in a puppy class is the best way to teach you and your puppy! Enlist a force-free trainer in your area.
Set house rules. Is he going to be allowed on the furniture? Do you want him to go to the bathroom in a specific part of the yard? Discuss the matter with your family. Make sure everyone is on the same page and uses the same method (rewards, commands) for training the dog. Consistency is key.
Decide whether you will crate train or not. Is crate training right for your dog? Many trainers advocate crate training for its advantages: it’s a safe den, a tool for housebreaking, a place to keep puppies out of mischief while you are away, a place for dogs to recuperate from illness, and more.
If you do decide to crate train, make sure you do it properly. It takes time to create positive associations with the crate for puppies and new dogs. Misusing crates can cause stress and unhappiness in your dog and can result in negative behaviours. See The Do’s and Don’ts of Crate Training.
Common mistakes include forcing the dog into the crate, punishing the dog in the crate, leaving the crate in isolated areas, leaving the pup or dog in the crate for too long, and using the crate as a baby sitter or kennel. Remember, dogs need stimulation, exercise, human contact, and play.
Visit the vet. Your puppy should see the vet shortly after arriving home (usually within the first week). Many breeders and rescue shelters will have a contract stating when the dog should be seen by your own vet. Disregarding this may be dangerous to your puppy and also void any health guarantees in your contract. If you don’t already have a vet, call around or talk to other dog owners. The cheapest vet in your area might not always be the best, so shop wisely.
Socialize your pup. Your puppy goes through a delicate imprint period for the first 16 weeks of life so start introducing her to places, people, animals and things right away and in a positive and controlled manner. This doesn’t mean flooding her with an overwhelming amount of experiences. Cautiously choose who, what and how you will introduce your puppy to ensure a positive experience, and respect your puppy’s signals that she is scared. See the puppy socialization checklist at www.petprofessionalguild.com.
If you adopt an older dog that was not socialized as a puppy and is fearful, it’s not too late to desensitize and counter condition. However, it’s best to get the help of a professional trainer or behaviour consultant.
Enjoy your new dog or puppy. Spend lots of time with him and you’ll be rewarded with much love and wonderful memories.