The First Days with Your New Puppy: Dos and Don’ts

Caring for new puppies can be an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience. Puppies have the excitement of an earthquake and unfortunately can cause the same amount of damage. With a little patience and a lot of love, you can help your rambunctious new companion into a lifelong friend.

DO: Provide a clean and safe kennel for sleeping.

Some people hear the word “kennel” and immediately think “cage.” While sleeping in a kennel is hard at first for most puppies, they grow to love the warmth and safety that a kennel provides. According to the Humane Society of the United States, kennels emulate dogs’ dens where they sleep and protect themselves from the elements. Kennel training can take a week or two of hard work and dedication on your part, as a new puppy can yap and bark for hours during the first few nights. Afterwards, you are sure to find that your puppy retreats to his or her kennel by himself to nap or wait out a thunderstorm.

DO: Get the right food for your pup.

There is a big difference between generic bargain basement brands and high-end dog foods. Dog foods that have corn, gluten meal, animal by-products and rice at or near the top of the list are using the cheapest materials. These grains and fillers do not provide the amino acids and proteins that benefit a puppy’s brain, muscle and bone growth. Look instead for a dog food that lists chicken, beef, fish or other animal proteins at or near the top of the ingredients list.

DO: Buy your puppy safe chew toys.

A puppy has a natural instinct to gnaw on everything in sight growing permanent adult teeth. Giving your puppy safe chew toys made of durable rubber or shred-resistant fabrics gives an outlet for safe chewing without raising your ire or stress.

DON’T: Yell at or hit your puppy.

Puppies are incredibly curious and adventurous, but they are typically not mean or deliberately destructive. Raising your voice or hitting your puppy when he or she acts out of curiosity leads to your puppy fearing you, not respecting and loving you. It also does not teach your puppy to avoid certain behaviors, only to hide them while in your presence.

DON’T: Feed your puppy off the table.

Dogs are natural scavengers and beg for food when they smell something they want. Naturally, a puppy that is rewarded by begging with scraps from the table is likely to continue to beg. This might be cute at first, but can quickly turn into an annoyance and dependence that guests and family members might not find so cute.

DON’T: Leave your puppy unsupervised with small children.

As you begin caring for new puppies, the age difference between them and older dogs becomes evident. Puppies are rambunctious and playful, but they do not have the patience of older, more mature dogs. An unsuspecting child dangling food or a toy in front of a puppy’s face might end up getting some fingers nipped or worse. Supervise your pet with any children until you are sure your puppy has the patience to not react to the roughness or teasing that sometimes comes with children.

DON’T: Forget to teach your new puppy as many tricks and good habits as possible.

Now is the time to dedicate to tricks such as shaking hands, rolling over, playing fetch and many other fun things that go along with dog ownership. While the old adage that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” might not be quite so accurate, it is much easier to teach puppies tricks than older dogs. With particularly intelligent breeds like border collies and poodles, you can even teach them more advanced tricks like fetching drinks out of the refrigerator or turning lights off in empty rooms.

Stay patient with your new puppy during these precious early moments of your relationship. Teaching your dog good manners and obedience from the very beginning assures that he or she becomes a cherished companion, not just a pet. As the dog grows, you are sure to look back on the first few weeks struggling with kennel training and chew toys with a smile on your face and even more fondness for your precious pup.

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