What are some of the issues to plan for when bringing home your new family member? In this article, I will touch on a few of the major issues but remember there are a lot more that will come up.
GET READY BEFOREHAND
First and most important, you should already have located a vet and made your first appointment to have your new puppy examined. The vet will help you to keep your puppy healthy and regular vet check-ups are important.
A healthy puppy is not your only goal, you likely also want a happy puppy – and this means regular exercise, playtime, and training. When I brought home my first puppy, I thought I knew the proper way to train him. After all, my family had many dogs when I was a kid. As it turns out, training methods have changed considerably over the last twenty years and I really didn't know the proper new training techniques.
Find yourself a good trainer. A dog can be trained at any stage in their life, but it's much easier to train them before they develop bad behaviours. And, yes, there is a cost but most often one or two sets of classes is all you will need – unless you get bit by the competition bug, as I did, and want to progress further into dog sports!
Puppies don't come home house-trained, so this will be the first thing they will need to learn. This can be difficult and frustrating for you at times, but you need to be patient. Your best tool is what we call crate training:
- Get yourself a hard plastic or wire crate, depending on your dog;
- It's important to get the correct size, so ask the staff at the pet store to help you. Many people's first reaction, myself included, is that it's cruel to put your dog in a cage. Of course, if you leave your dog in too long, it is very cruel, but if used properly, your dog's crate will help you house train your pet. A crate will also provide a safe, secure, quiet place for them; and,
- A few hours in the crate at a time is the maximum at this stage. Give them a Kong (special dog toy stuffed with a treat) to occupy them while you run errands and so that they learn that the crate is a fun place too.
Most dogs are born with an instinct not to soil the area where they sleep
and the crate can be used to your advantage
The main theory is to get them outside for their 'business'. When they do, you reward them with lots of praise and a treat. If they have an accident while you weren't watching, give them your naughty puppy look (and watch them more closely next time). Never, never, never yell or physically discipline your dog if an accident occurs in the house – this will backfire and make house-training much more difficult for both of you. Never put them in their crate to punish them.
TIME TO GO OUTSIDE
The first several days and possibly a week, watch your dog like a hawk! If it looks like they are going to go:
- Get them outside; and,
- After you feed them, put their leash on and take them out for a walk. Walking can help move things along. Puppies spend a lot of time sleeping and when they are, they can sleep in their crate. Or crate them if there is something you need to do and can't watch them.
When the puppy has learned to tell you they need to go out, you can wean out the crate. It's always a good idea to keep it around, even with the door open so they can go in when they want some quiet time. Also, should your dog ever become injured and recovery depends on them keeping still for a few days, you will be very glad that their crate has become their own private and safe place. •
Rob Goddard has been working to save pets since 2002 when he started fundraising to help pets in need. He has served as President of Helping Homeless Pets, an association of pet rescues in Canada, since 2007. Rob began to help lost pets to get back home in 2010 when his software company launched a National Lost / Found Pet Registry called Helping Lost Pets. The website is used across North America.
Rob has two miniature dachshunds named Milo and Layla and the three are often seen at various pet events with the Woofjocks.
His dogs have competed in agility and have made many visits to seniors homes. Their list of TV credits include TVO Kids, Breakfast TV, Animal House Calls, The Surreal Gourmet, Wedding SOS, Zoink’d and Rogers Daytime.
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