Welcome back to our Blog Series about Puppyhood and Dog Adoption! In Part 2, we’ll go over preparing for to welcome your new family member home. I’ve divided this information into short, easily understandable sections and will continue to share them over the next two months. I hope you’ll find this information helpful and, please feel free to check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/trulyforcefree/) for more information and to ask questions. I hope to see you there!
Preparing Puppy’s welcome home:
Before you bring puppy home, you should get your house ready. Not only will this make you and your new puppy/dog’s first days easier, it will help you be sure you’re ready for the puppy. The following list will get you started.
- A crate that is big enough to allow the puppy to turn around. Some crates are adjustable and have dividers so the crate will “grow” with your puppy. Other options are to get used crates from friends, thrift stores or purchase a new one at each appropriate size.
- You do not want too much space in a crate. There should only be space for sleeping. Any larger and the puppy will have the option of urinating/ defecating on one side of the crate and sleeping on the other.
- Forget the food bowl! Instead of feeding your puppy out of a bowl, use meal times as opportunities to train and to provide mental stimulation.
- You can hand feed your puppy food while doing training. Start with a simple behavior like sit (see training area for technique). Once your puppy is doing sit, add down or stay. You can also begin training “come” using the treats by tossing a couple treats away from you (so the dog runs to them and eats them) then call your puppy back to you, giving him a couple kibbles for coming back. By handfeeding/ training your puppy, you can give him a head start to having good manners. One of my dogs was born at my house. I taught him to sit when he was 5-weeks old using canned food and puppy mush. Because he was asked to sit every time, he approached me, my husband or kids, he does not jump on anyone. It was a great way to prevent an inappropriate behavior. If your puppy learns these things as a regular part of life, he is less likely to need training for them later. By feeding by hand, you also ensure that you will be “training” your puppy everyday at least 2-3 times a day. As for anything in life, the more you practice, the better you get!
- Feeding out of a food dispensing toy gives your puppy an independent activity to do! Some puppies/dogs are independent by nature. This is usually the exception, not the rule. However, you can teach your puppy to play without you by using a feeding toy. Some examples are Kong’s (there are a few options), Kibble Nibble ball and a Buster Feeding Cube. With all of these toys, you can put kibble or canned food (a few treats if needed/ desired) and your puppy will work or “forage” to get them out. These toys are great to use in times that you are busy and your puppy wants attention. As you are getting ready for work in the morning, you can give your puppy a toy to keep him busy. While you are eating dinner is another optimal time for a feeding toy. You can also use the feeding toys when the puppy is in his crate this can help create a very positive association with the crate!
- Have the collar and leash ready. For this, you may have to wait until you have the puppy to get the correct size. As soon as your puppy gets home it is a good idea to let him get used to the collar. Although some people prefer to take it off when at home, all dogs should have a collar that they wear with identification. If your puppy gets away and he has a phone number and/ or address, he could be returned to you in a matter of minutes. If you rely on a microchip (which is a great secondary identification), the person who finds your puppy must take him to a veterinarian or shelter to get the microchip number to find you. Often, if a good Samaritan sees a dog with a collar, they will stop and attempt to return the dog. If there is no identification, they may not stop.
- Having your puppy get used to having a leash attached to his collar is one of first things he needs to get used to during a walk. Many dogs do not mind the extra weight of a leash, but some dogs freeze when the leash is attached. You can let your puppy drag the leash around (when supervised) to get used to it before you teach him to walk nicely with you.
- Toys to chew on will be a must have in your house for the next few months. Every puppy will have a personal favorite when it comes to toys and chew toys, but here is a short list of the most common favorites.
- Edible Nyla bones
- Raw hide (be sure it is made in the USA)
- Stuffed Kong Toys (can be frozen to help with teething)
- Frozen chicken broth (in ice cubes or in plastic containers of different shapes and sizes)
- Be ready to train as soon as puppy comes home. Get a variety of training treats for your new puppy. All training with your puppy should be positive and fun. A very fun training technique is clicker training (see our upcoming basic training blog for more details).
- Before you bring your puppy home, be sure you have a plan.
- Will you be home? Do you need someone to let puppy out to potty during the day?
- Find a puppy class to begin socialization. (Check out trulyforcefree.com for great classes!)
- Research veterinarians. Get referrals from friends.
- You should be prepared to have your puppy meet many different people and have a variety of experiences.
- Although many veterinarians caution having you take your puppy out before his vaccines are finished. This can be detrimental to your puppy’s mental health. The key is to expose your puppy to many people, dogs and experiences in safe ways.
- AVSAB Puppy Socialization Position Statement
We hope you’ve found this information helpful and we look forward to seeing you back her next month for Part 3 of Simple Steps to Get Through Puppyhood and Dog Adoption.