Puppy Tips

Puppyproofing checklist
For puppy's safety and your sanity, get down on the floor and see things from a puppy's eye view before you take it home.  Pay extra attention to the areas of the house where your puppy will spend most of its time.
  • Wires and cords can become chew toys.  Cover exposed wiring, duct-tape cords to baseboards, or hide cords b ehind furniture or under carpet.
  • Keep garbage cans and wastebaskets under the sink or in a room off-limits to puppy.  An open trash container is a toy chest in a puppy's view.
  • Install childproof latches on accessible cabinet doors, especially those containing food, medicine, household cleaners, and trash containers.
  • Put knickknacks, books, and valuables on high shelves.
  • Check house and yard for plants that are toxic to dogs.  Head to the ASPCA's Web site for a list of plants to keep away from pup.
  • Prohibit garage access, or if pup will be allowed in the garage, clean up spills, cover trash containers, and put antifreeze and other chemicals out of reach.
  • Keep puppy away from areas where you use insecticides, or use pet-friendly alternatives.
  • Secure your backyard by installing a fence or checking your existing one for possible escape holes.
I train, you train, we all train

Practice makes perfect, and with puppies, the earlier the practice begins, the longer the results will last.  Preventing behavior problems through managing your pup's environment and teaching positive replacement behaviors is typically easier than solving problems after the fact, so train as soon as possible.  Whether you enroll in puppy kindergarten, hire a personal trainer, or conduct at-home training, explore the different methods, observe different trainers, and ask questions to research which style would be best for you and your dog.

Sleep tight, little puppy

The first night in its new home may be nerve-racking and unsettling for your new dog.  Initiate a standard bedtime early on to establish a routine.  To help ease the first frightful nights, you can wrap a warm water bottle in a shirt and put it in its bed.  Also, a stuffed animal may add comfort for easier nodding off.

To fix or not to fix

If you are not going to breed your dog, have it spayed or neutered.  Safe as early as five months -- some veterinarians and shelters advocate altering even earlier -- the surgery will prevent certain health problems in your dog as well as unwanted litters, abandoned dogs, and overpopulation.

Looking good, feeling good

More than just beauty treatments, regular grooming helps you prevent dental, skin, and coat health problems and can provide early notice of other problems if you notice a sore spot or a lump, for example.  Introduce grooming tools to your pup gradually, and get it used to having its mouth and paws handled with gentle play early on.

What's in the bowl?

Puppies need a growth diet, but preventing obesity is just as important.  Ensuring optimum nutrition for a healthy, long life involves determining appropriate amounts of nutrients, fat, and calories for your puppy's frame size; providing regular exercise; and regulating treats, especially human food treats.  Consult your veterinarian for an ideal, nutritious diet that will satisfy your puppy's developmental need.

Let's go potty

An immediate concern of most new puppy parents is housetraining.  With the need to go about every hour and lack of bowel control until about 6 months, your puppy will need your help, a routine, and a familiar place to do the deed.  An early start will be the most successful, so before the puppy even enters your house, decide what housetraining method you are going to use and make sure family or roommates agree to follow the plan.  Housetraining is a challenge, and mistakes are bound to happen, but keep it positive and relaxed -- and just remember:  consistency, consistency, consistency.

Making friends

Proper, early socialization is vital to your puppy's long-term good behavior and mental health.  Introduce it to a variety of other dogs and people as soon as possible, after its first series of shots.  You can socialize with friends' dogs, at a dog park, on walks, and at training classes.  The more dogs and people your puppy meets, the more confident and well-mannered it can be.

Gear up!

Your puppy needs a few things before you bring it home:

1.  A place to sleep.  Look for dog beds with zippers (puppies can chew and choke on buttons).  If you're crate training your puppy, keep one crate in a central area for daytime and one in your bedroom for nighttime so that a puppy can learn your rhythms.  Add a plush blanket or crate pad and crate bumpers for maximum comfort. 4.  Collar and tags.  Get a sturdy collar that won't slip off or stretch out.  Add an ID tag with name, address and telephone number, and the state required dog license number.  Remember that frequent upsizing will be necessary for your growing puppy. 7.  Toys, toys, toys.  Provide your puppy with stimulating toys.  Otherwise, when it gets bored, your favorite pillow may be its next choice.  Alternate playtime with each toy to keep its interest.  Hard, rubber toys with holes for food, like peanut butter, will captivate your puppy for hours.  Keep toys size-appropriate, and watch for small parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.
2.  Food.  Consult your adoption coordinator or breeder and your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your individual puppy's needs. 5.  Chew toys.  Puppies chew a lot, and they'll chew anything.  To protect yoiur table legs, rugs, and everything else, stock up on some things your puppy will be allowed to chew on, and praise it when it does. 8.  Grooming basics.  You'll want a comb or brush appropriate for your dog's coat, canine shampoo (human shampoo dries out your pup's skin), plus a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste.
3.  Treats.  With training going on from Day One, be sure that small, rewarding, healthy treats fill your cupboard or refrigerator (cut-up raw vegetables are often a hit with puppies). 6.  Bowls.  One for food, one for water.  Keep water out at all times, but feed only at designated times. Stainless steel and ceramic bowls discourage chewing and don't absorb germs or odor.  Wash bowls frequently.  9.  Car restraint.  Use a doggie seatbelt or crate for safe transport.
Family matters

In addition to getting your home ready, you'll need to prepare your family and other pets for a new puppy.

  • Your puppy may never have encountered children, so introduce them to each other gently and under supervision.  Be sure to instruct children how to handle a puppy: no poking, hitting, or sticking fingers in its mouth; don't take toys or food away from a puppy; don't startle it when it is sleeping.  Never leave children and puppies unsupervised.
  • Cautiously take it to meet the other family pets.  Don't leave them together unsupervised, but do introduce them early so they can get used to each other.
Source: Dog Fancy April 2003