How exciting - you have brought home a new member of the family!
The first few months of bringing a puppy home are often the most exciting - helping them explore their surroundings, lots of playtime and puppy cuddles! We're here to help keep the more daunting side of rearing a puppy to a minimum so you can enjoy the best bits! Don't be alarmed if you aren't following all of our suggestions - this is what we have found works well in majority of cases but of coarse, individuals will vary. This 'Puppy Care' guide is more to prevent or help with issues you may already be experiencing.
Before bringing them home
Bedding- A comfortable, warm bed away from cold draughts kept in a consistent position will help your new friend know it has its own 'safe' spot. Some owners like to use crate training which may be of benefit in particular cases. For more information on crate training click here.
Access to water- An obvious essential but ensure water bowls can hold adequate water for the times you are not home. Stainless steel bowls are preferable.
Pet tag- an appropriate-sized pet tag including your phone number is the quickest way to have a wandering friend returned.
Puppy-proofing your home- this is so important to not only ensure that your valuable possessions are not going to be destroyed but also preventing your new puppy from consuming anything harmful or toxic. For more information on common items around your home that may be toxic, click here.
Introducing them to their new home
Toilet training - Consistency! Consistency will make this process less frustrating and short-lived. Puppies are usually unable to hold on for more than three hours at a time. Bring your puppy out to the area that you would like them to use for toileting on a lead (so that you have their attention). Do this after napping, playtime, feeding and extended periods and give positive praise and reinforcement immediately after they toilet in the correct location.
This is key in your puppy's understanding of 'where to go'. Repetition of this process and supervision will hasten their understanding. Accidents are bound to happen and catching them mid-action is the only way to discourage the location. Quickly say 'no' and redirect the puppy outside and give positive praise again when it eliminates in the correct location. 'Rubbing their nose in it' and any negative feedback after the deed is done certainly does not help. Just ignore "accidents" and clean up quickly as best you can. Constant supervision is key until the correct behaviour kicks in. Feeding - Puppies will need three feeds daily until they around five months of age. This can then be reduced to two feeds daily either when they are 5 months old or if you find your puppy is becoming disinterested/not finishing their meal. We generally recommend feeding a high-quality dry puppy food. Puppy-specific diets are higher in energy and nutrients to support growth and development.
Puppy School - really important - for all sizes of dogs. Puppy schools teach positive socialisation and train you the owner as well as your puppy. Dog clubs have qualified dog trainers and usually have no hidden product-sales agenda. Your puppy's first encounters with other puppies and humans at such a young age will influence their future social skills enormously! We can easily differentiate between those who have and have not attended puppy school. We find the dogs who have participated in puppy classes are more relaxed and know their place in the world. They are generally more social and also the owners have a better understanding of dealing with behaviour issues before they become learned. We send our puppies to Team Work Taigum (not a paid affiliation) as we only hear positive feedback about their sensible classes and instructors. It is best to call and arrange your first classes when your puppy gets home, as classes book up quickly. Chewing - puppies explore their new world by mouthing and chewing just like a toddler would with their hands (and mouths!). Mix that with teething at around 12 weeks of age and you are bound to have some mischief! Again, constant supervision is key in hastening this learning process. Make sure you have enough toys and chew treats for this period and if you find them chewing on something they shouldn't, discourage them mid-action and redirect them to the items they should be chewing. Your puppy will not learn from showing them destroyed items after the damage is done, nor do they know good shoes from your old ones! Socialising and exercising - once your puppy has had all of its vaccinations, try to take your puppy with you as often as possible to places where it is allowed and safe to be. This will ensure your puppy is introduced early in life to different situations, people and pets and is stimulated mentally as well as physically. Vaccinations and Preventative Care - prevention is better than cure! Follow this link for more information on what your puppy should be covered for including heartworm. If you are concerned about fleas and ticks click here.
If you have any further questions or concerns, we're here to help!
Otherwise, enjoy the puppy good times!