Puppies - What to Expect
Bringing Your New Dog Home
Petland knows all about the excitement that comes with being a new pet owner. Our pet counsellors are always eager to help answer any questions about the new addition to your family!
Doggy Proofing Your Home
When bringing home your new family member, you’ll need to create a dog-safe environment. Most canine medical emergencies that occur in the home are preventable. Puppies and older dogs in a new environment are naturally curious and explore the world through smell and taste. Get down on all fours and move anything your new dog will be interested in. Electrical cords, garbage, clothing, string and toilet paper are just a few of the common household items that can cause injuries to your new pet and heartache to your family. Please take a copy of Petland’s Safety Tips & Household Hazards tip sheet for a more detailed list of potentially hazardous household items to your pet. Be sure to provide a safe, relaxing area for your dog to be in when you are unable to supervise indoors and out. Ask a pet counsellor for our Give Your Dog a Den tip sheet for an explanation of your dog’s denning needs and an easy guide on how you can housebreak your new puppy.
Patience is a Virtue
We know the mischief a child can get into when left to their own devices. Puppies are no different… or are they? Coming home after a long day at work and finding your puppy running through your living room with a chewed leather shoe in his mouth and sporting a cat litter beard from his escapades in the cat box, is probably not an experience anyone wants to go through! With a child, we would never think of leaving them to their own devices. If they happened to crawl out of their bed, only to rip pages out of the antique fairy tale book that was passed down in your family from generation-to-generation; you would be upset, but you would acknowledge that some behaviour must be taught and that patience is required. Your puppy needs patience from you too, along with a clearly defined routine. He needs to know the difference between right and wrong. Help him to be successful by being patient and giving him the opportunity to be praised more than reprimanded as often as you can. That means providing him with a den so that he receives positive reinforcement instead of reprimands for inevitable accidents.
Just like people, your dog needs to have an established routine in order to thrive. This will alleviate any stress that he may experience transitioning into his new home. Your consistency will instill security and confidence in your dog. Daily activities, such as feeding, playtime, walks and bedtime are particularly important. Feeding and walks are activities that are directly linked with housebreaking. Ensure that your puppy’s feeding schedule, which will be approximately three to five times a day depending on his age and weight, is taken into consideration when you are planning his routine. Ask for Petland’s Your Small Breed & Hypoglycemia tip sheet for more information on feeding schedules and routines.
Remember to heed the suggestion to keep your puppy on the diet he was eating at Petland for at least the first three weeks upon arriving home. A change of diet is particularly stressful for a new puppy’s sensitive digestive system. A new food, coupled with the excitement (stresses) of a new environment, will inevitably lead to diarrhea which can be very serious to a young puppy.
The Welcoming Committee
It’s important during the first three to five days of arriving home to not over stimulate your new puppy. Try to limit the amount of people he meets and the amount of places he goes. He doesn’t need to meet your entire family, neighbours and your work buddies immediately. Let him figure out who’s who in your home first, where he sleeps, why the cat is hissing at him and what happens if he poops in the living room. There is so much for him to see and do just within the confines of your home and yard. Remember, although coming home is exciting for him and for your family, it still is classified as stress. Ease him into his routine, then once he is comfortable, he will be ready and willing to meet everyone!
I’m Not Tired!... zzzzzzzz
Your puppy will need regular nap times. He will wear himself out after an hour or so of play (sooner for smaller breeds) and like a toddler, will not want to miss out on any action. You must ensure he takes his naps and in an appropriate area, such as his kennel. A puppy who doesn’t nap enough is a stressed puppy. Make sure he is taken outside and given the opportunity to eliminate before he is put to bed for his nap. Unless he is really exhausted, he will most likely respond to being put to bed with whining and/or barking. For anyone who has children, this is called “train the parents.” Do not fall prey to this very clever tactic! If you do not respond to his whining, it will soon cease and he will get the rest he needs.
For a puppy, one of the most important first survival lessons is the use of his mouth and jaws. “Mouthing” is a puppy’s unending desire to bite at your hands, feet, pants or shoes. Why do they mouth? One of the many reasons is that during the early development phase, your puppy chews to sample the taste and texture of things in his environment.
As a new pet owner, allow your puppy to mouth, but correct him (repeatedly) in a mild fashion if he bites too hard. A sharp “hey!” works with most puppies. Don’t be too harsh when correcting his mouthing since this is a necessary skill he will need to learn; to know how to be sensitive in situations when he wants to nip at you and other family members.
There is more to mouthing than exploring his environment. Your puppy has baby teeth. Chewing helps to relieve the constant dull pain in his gums and helps strengthen his teeth and gums.
One of the main benefits of your puppy chewing is often overlooked. Chewing releases tension and relieves boredom. If your puppy builds up excess tension and chewing is something that helps him release that tension, then it stands to reason he will need appropriate dog toys (soft, medium and hard) to fill his behavioural need to chew. If he is not provided with his own toys, your furniture, clothing and carpeting will fill his need. That is something you do not want to encourage! Your “stuff” is not “his stuff.” He needs his own toys. That means that although it may be cute at first that he has developed a liking for your slipper; encouraging him in any way to continue chewing it, most likely will lead to other objects (the wall, coffee table, the side of the chair) being chewed.
Your puppy’s constant need to chew will diminish as he matures. A healthy and well-balanced dog will still enjoy chewing and will be satisfied with safe and appropriate chew toys.
Walking on a Leash
It is most likely that your puppy doesn’t know how to walk on a leash. This is an important skill to teach him early on, so you can enjoy a lifetime of walks together. Even if you have a fenced yard, having your dog leash trained will be invaluable in many situations, such as trips to the vet, where he cannot run freely. See Petland’s Basic Obedience for Dogs tip sheet for ideas on how to get your puppy used to a leash. It will will also help to speak with a pet counsellor regarding the many collar, harness and leash options available.
Come When Called
Perhaps the most important command you can teach your new puppy is to come when they are called. This may be learned easily by some puppies, while others just don’t seem to get it. Once your puppy has had some leash training, here’s a fun game you can play with your puppy to teach him to come. Begin with your dog on a 6 foot leash. Quickly say your dog’s name and the command “come!” Run backwards and reel in the leash. Once he is directly in front of you, give him a treat and lots of praise. Repeating this game on a daily basis, a few times a day, will have your puppy coming when called in no time. Once he has mastered the “come” command, praise can just be given and the treats eliminated.
At Petland, your puppy has been exposed to many people and pets. The window of opportunity to socialize a puppy is open the widest when they are between eight and 16 weeks of age. It is important that you continue their socialization process once they are home with you. A well-adjusted dog is at ease in any situation or environment. Walk your puppy daily where you are sure to encounter people, cars, other dogs, bicycles, etc. If you sense your dog is becoming uncomfortable, offer a training treat.
Petland’s tip sheet Basic Obedience for Dogs also lists a website to help new pet owners overcome undesireable behaviour in their puppy/dog, such as leash pulling or excessive barking. And remember, if you brought your new puppy home from Petland, your Puppy Resource Kit includes a great DVD for new puppy owners.
Should you have any questions, we welcome the opportunity to help. Please contact your local Petland pet counsellor.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet’s home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit diseases to humans. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their homes.