Congratulations on your new family member! We know how exciting it is to have a new furry family member, but puppies need similar care and supplies as a human baby to grow up happy and healthy. Let’s explore the needs of your new puppy, Pepper, from her perspective.
Introduce your puppy to her new home
Pepper: “Hello, human. Who are you, and where are we? Is this my new home? There are several large objects that I have never seen before. Will those things hurt me?”
Every puppy will have her own personality and confidence level when interacting with her surroundings. Introduce your puppy to each room and object in your home, and create a positive experience with ample praise and high-value treats—for example, surround any object, such as a piece of furniture, that your puppy fears, with treats she can collect. For other fears, check out Fear Free Happy Homes to learn how to train your puppy to handle her surroundings unafraid.
Feed a new puppy a complete, balanced diet
Pepper: “I am pretty hungry. Will you give me some good food, and something to drink? Whatever you have looks good, and I’m happy to eat what you are eating.”
Feeding a complete, balanced diet will provide your puppy with the energy and nutrients she needs to grow into a healthy adult dog. Several commercial dog food types are available, including kibble, canned food, and fresh-cooked and frozen options. Avoid raw food for your puppy, because her young immune system may not protect her from harmful bacteria present in those diets. If you are planning to home cook your puppy’s meals, always consult a veterinary nutritionist to ensure your recipe is balanced, to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies that may result in growth deformities or disease.
Provide positive socialization for your puppy
Pepper: “People with hats are scary. People with bicycles are scary. Buses are scary. Other dogs are scary. Will you protect me from them all?”
Puppies not only need exposure to people and objects of all shapes and sizes, but they also need those interactions to be positive, so that they grow into fear-free, confident, well-adjusted pets. This checklist can help you create a socialization plan that you can use for your puppy as you explore the world together, and help her form her views of her world.
Potty train your pet
Pepper: “This corner smells pretty good, and the carpet feels soft under my feet—I think I’ve found the perfect potty spot. Don’t you agree, mom?”
Key to potty training is creating a surface preference for grass, dirt, or whatever surface your puppy will be using outside. One training method involves frequent trips outside, day and night, and rewarding your puppy handsomely each time. Another method takes a step-wise approach that creates a positive association with a potty pad inside, and then moves the pad outside to transition the puppy to outside bathroom use.
Never scold your puppy for urinating indoors, because that will make her fearful, and will not teach her what you want her to do. Scolding or punishing her may also make her fear you.
Choose toys with care for your puppy
Pepper: “These electrical cords are such fun to chew. So are these shoes. And your hands are fun to chew on. I love playing.”
Your puppy likely will be curious, and want to play with everything in your house, including dangerous objects, and your job is to reward her well when she chooses the correct play thing. Try to supervise your puppy at all times during play, and if you find her playing with electrical cords, shoes, or other dangerous or wrong objects, divert her attention to an appropriate toy, and reward her with treats, or give her a toy, such as a Kong, stuffed with peanut butter.
Creating a fear-free life for your puppy
Pepper: “Why are you yelling at me? I don’t understand what I did, and worse, I don’t know what I should do instead of what I did. Please don’t yell at me. Now I’m a little scared of you.”
Remember—never yell at, strike, or scold your puppy. You will create a fearful pet who may bite you, or someone else. To train your pup to respond correctly to a person or situation, divert her attention away from her inappropriate behavior, and then reward only her good behaviors and actions.
Pepper: “Who is this person in a white coat? Dr. Spangler? He seems nice, but why is he giving me a weird massage, and putting that cold thing on my chest?”
Your puppy should be examined by a veterinarian, and receive appropriate vaccinations and preventive medications for her good health. But, creating a positive view of the hospital and the veterinary team at an early age is equally important, so bring your puppy’s favorite treats on her veterinary visits, to distract her if she looks nervous or unsure, and to reward her when she lets the veterinarian look into her ears, open her mouth, or handle her feet. The treats will help ensure your puppy develops a positive relationship with her veterinary team, enjoys good health, and experiences minimal fear, anxiety, and stress.
At TotalBond Paw Creek hospital, our team wants to set you up for success in caring for and training your new puppy. We cannot wait to meet your new family member, so schedule your puppy’s appointment as soon as possible.