Are you thinking of getting a puppy? Here are some things you need to know before you buy or adopt your new family member.
You’re going to lose a lot of sleep for the first few weeks. It can take that long for a puppy to adjust to their new life. They will cry a lot, especially at night: they’ve been taken away from their mama and litter mates and placed into a whole new world filled with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. That’s very frightening for a baby, so you need to be very patient and very calm with them.
For the first month or so, your puppy is going to have a lot of accidents in the house. They don’t know where they’re supposed to do their business, so you have to invest a lot of time teaching them. Take them out 5 minutes after they eat or drink; after every 15 minutes of play, take them out; take them out 5 to 10 minutes before you go to bed; during the night, take them out every 2 to 3 hours. When your puppy has an accident, don’t scold him or tell him he’s “bad”; just pick him up – calmly, and without talking to him – take him outside for about 5 minutes, and if he goes again, praise that. Reward the behaviour you want. Eventually, he will learn what you’re trying to teach him, and while he learns, he’ll figure out a way to give you a clear signal that he needs to go.
Your puppy is going to chew everything she can get her mouth on. There are two reasons for this. The first is that puppies explore their world with their mouths. The second is that they’re teething, and their mouth hurts. They chew because it helps ease that pain. So, make sure you have lots of teething toys for them. When they go after your furniture – and they will – redirect them to those toys. If that doesn’t work, give them a cold or frozen cloth to chew on. The cold will numb their gums and make them feel better, and you’ll save your furniture.
Socialize, socialize, socialize! Puppies have a very small window of time to learn how to be with other dogs. This window ranges from 12 to 14 weeks. If you don’t socialize your puppy with other puppies of the same age, they can become fearful of other dogs and other people and react negatively to encounters. It’s critical to your puppy’s mental well-being that you make a point of getting him into puppy social classes or puppy daycare before that window closes. Also, whenever possible, take them with you when you go out. When you frequently expose your puppy to different sights, sounds, and smells, they become desensitized to them. This means that when they find themselves in different situations, they are far more likely to remain calm and relaxed, rather than reactive and fearful.
Play with your puppy often. Make yourself the greatest, highest, biggest, most important thing in the world to your puppy. Play helps build a strong bond between you and your puppy that will help you when you’re ready to start training your puppy in obedience or any other interest. Also make sure to handle your puppy a lot; gently play with their ears, feet, and tail frequently, and gently pick them up and put them down again. This will make visits to the vet much calmer and more relaxed not just for your puppy, but for your vet, too.
Having a dog is a lifetime commitment that can last up to 15 years – sometimes longer. The moment you bring a puppy home, you are making the decision to invest countless hours of time and energy in raising that puppy from babyhood through to old age. You are making the decision to lose sleep, to constantly fix or replace all manner of things ranging from bedding and leashes, to furniture and other things. You are making the decision to constantly clean up after your puppy while she’s learning how to do her business where you want her to do it.
When you bring a puppy home, you’re making the decision to give up a good portion of your life for at least the first year of their life – because that first year is the hardest time to get through. Raising a puppy is not for the faint of heart. So, please – before you get a puppy, make sure you’re absolutely certain that you can and you will make the sacrifices you’ll need to make.
Happy New Year to everyone. Remember to stay calm, and lead on.