With an office full of dog owners and dog lovers, we’re constantly asking our Head Vet Sean for dog advice, which he’s always happy to give over a cup of tea. A few of the team have recently become first-time dog owners and soon discovered that it’s not always a walk in the park, especially if the puppy is naughtier than initially expected.
There’s nothing like having a best friend to share everything with, whether it’s an adventure or just a cuddle in front of the TV, but there’s work to be done too. Here are some tips from Sean to help you and your new puppy settle in together:
Prepare for how much time you’ll need
Training a puppy takes a lot of time, effort and patience. They’ve just joined their new human family after leaving their mother and siblings and there’s a lot to see and explore in this new world. The more time and effort you invest in training, the sooner you’ll have a well-trained puppy on your hands.
Set out some ground rules
Just because your puppy is cute, it doesn’t mean you can make exceptions for naughtiness. If you want your puppy to learn to be well behaved and obedient, consistency is key. Start as you mean to go on with house rules and make sure your puppy knows who’s in charge with plenty of reward-based training.
Encourage curiosity, not fear
Puppies can be nervous of all the new sights, sounds and experiences around them and will often react by crying or cowering away. If they cry, try not to always reassure or pick them up. Allow them to discover the world with curiosity rather than fear and reward calm behaviour with praise and affection.
Limit the variety in their diet
Your puppy’s digestive system will be sensitive after being weaned so try to avoid switching between different brands and types of foods too often to avoid an upset stomach. Our tails.com Blend Evolution process gradually updates the balance of nutrients in your puppy’s food as they grow and change so that you don’t need to worry about it. Find out more information here.
Be a social butterfly
Even before your puppy’s vaccinations, it’s good to take them out in the car and invite plenty of visitors over for your dog to get used to new environments and people. After their vaccinations, it’s time to venture out into the big wide world and discover new things. Heading out on plenty of walks together helps your dog to familiarise themselves with busy places, crowds of people, traffic noise, children and other animals too. It’s important to get your dog used to as many people, dogs and new surroundings as possible during the socialisation window (the first 16-18 weeks of puppyhood) so that they can grow into a confident adult.
Familiarise yourself with toxic foods
A lot of common household foods are toxic to dogs. It’s important to keep these out of reach of curious puppies to make sure that they’re not eaten. Here’s a handy list to help you remember which foods are unsafe for dogs.
Build your puppy’s independence
By gradually increasing the amount of time you leave your puppy alone, their independence will soon start to grow. We know it’s hard, but try to ignore crying and if possible, only return to the room they’re in once they’re settled and calm. If you’re leaving the house, try not to make a big fuss right before your departure and assure your dog that it’s not a big deal.
Biting play is normal between littermates and other puppies, but biting play with humans is not something you want to encourage. Puppies need to develop bite inhibition so that they can control their bites when later faced with a stressful situation that requires a reaction. Every time their teeth touch our skin, interrupt with an abrupt “No!” and withdraw all attention. This will teach your dog that playtime is over if teeth are used. Puppies naturally want to use their teeth to bite and chew, so buying a range of chew toys can help to satisfy this urge.
Get your puppy house trained
Like most other training, house training takes patience and preparation. Choose an area outside to be your puppy’s designated toilet spot. Taking them out frequently will teach them to learn that this is where toilet breaks should happen. Always reward for toileting in the right place but never use punishment for the times they get it wrong. This could make them nervous and avoid toileting in front of you, leading to more accidents.
Reduce the fear of the vet
Dogs tend to be fearful of the vet as they only go there for injections or when they’re unwell. The busy clinic can often be overwhelming too. By taking your puppy to the vet regularly for weight checks, and allowing them to be greeted with lots of fuss from staff, you’ll build positive associations instead. Some vet practices even host puppy parties, which are great for your puppy to meet new friends and even learn to love the vet.
Above all, enjoy the puppy stage! Your dog will grow so fast that these days will be over sooner than you think. A dog’s nutritional needs change as they grow too, so it’s important to make sure your dog’s diet is adjusting to reflect these changes. Luckily for you, our Blend Evolution process makes sure that you don’t have to worry about altering diets yourself. Find out more about how we tailor your dog’s diet here: https://tails.com/puppy-food.