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So now you are ready to bring your puppy home. But is there a puppy checklist of things you should do? First, it is important to remember that your puppy has only been in the world for a very short time and as such it will be fragile and sensitive to sound and touch as well as changes in its routine. So here’s the ultimate puppy checklist to help you get started toward welcoming this new family member successfully into your home.
Establish a Routine for Your Puppy
It is important to establish a routine from the beginning of your puppy’s life and enforce it as closely as possible. It is also important to refrain from over stimulating your puppy during its first few months of life. Puppies sleep a lot and the reason for this is because they grow a lot. It is advised that you resist the urge to wake up your puppy every few seconds to play with it as though it were a toy, much the same as babies; puppies need as much sleep as they can get. You will find that as your puppy ages it will become more playful and you will find yourself wishing that you had those sleepy days of puppyhood back! You should also always be conscious of your puppy’s whereabouts; many trainers attach a leash to their belt look and carry the puppy everywhere with them to ensure that the puppy is not getting in to something it shouldn’t be.
Housetrain Your New Puppy
What else should you be working on with your puppy from day one? Housetraining is always the big one on the list of things to work on. Puppies can be very easily housetrained by ensuring that someone is available for the first few weeks of its life to let it out every few hours. If someone is available 24/7 the fastest way to housetrain your puppy is to take them out every hour on the hour as well as immediately following naps, playtimes and mealtimes. Such repetitive actions will quickly teach your puppy that it is expected to use the bathroom outside.
How Long Can My Puppy Go Without Peeing?
If you are not available 24/7 it is a good rule of thumb to remember that your puppy can hold its bladder for one hour for each month of age plus one, so a four-month old puppy can hold its bladder for five hours; however, particularly young puppies have very little control over their bladder muscles and as a result they have accidents. Accidents should be reprimanded with a short firm “no” and cleaned up, if you do not catch your puppy in the act do not reprimand them. Remember, they are learning – they have no idea what’s good and bad, and the way to teach them is through positive reinforcement, not by being mean and condescending.
Once your puppy reaches six months old they should be able to fully hold their bladder for up to seven hours; however it is not recommend that you frequently make your puppy hold their bladder for such a long period of time. Imagine if you had to hold it for that long!
Get a Crate for Your Puppy
Leaving a puppy home alone can be a huge step for a new puppy parent, there is constant worry about what the little guy is up to which is why it is recommended that you crate your puppy from the beginning. The crate not only gives your puppy a safe place to sleep but it also keeps your puppy safe from getting in to danger when you are out of the house. When leaving your puppy in its crate you should always remember to return home for potty breaks or to hire a dog walker who can do this for you. There is also the option of doggy daycare after your puppy has been spayed or neutered and has received all of their shots. Doggy daycares offer your dog the chance to socialize with other dogs and develop social skills as well as run off all that extra energy that you can’t seem to burn off on your daily walks!
Teach Your Puppy Social Skills
Social skills must also be taught to your puppy in the form of formal training classes. Training classes are not only of benefit to you by giving you a well-behaved dog, but they are also of benefit to others who experience your dog, as well as to your dog itself. Dogs thrive from structure, routine and having a purpose. As your dogs master you give it a purpose each and every time you issue a command and it obeys you, something as simple as “sit – stay” can bring more joy to your dog than you could ever imagine!
Basic puppy training classes will serve to introduce your puppy to other puppies as well as teach them the basic commands expected of them including: sit, stay, down, off, leave it, heel and wait. After graduating puppy class with your puppy it is also recommended that you enroll in a more advanced obedience class to firm up the lessons that your puppy recently learned as well as to ensure that your dog does not turn in to one of those dogs who drags its master through café at peak business hours in pursuit of a cream puff. Following obedience classes if you are so inclined you can even research specialty classes to turn your dog into a therapy dog, a dock dog, a hunting dog, a search and rescue dog, a tracking dog, an agility dog and much more!
Puppyhood is a time of joy, much like new parenthood; however, that joy on four legs also has ways of testing you to your limits. There will be nights of howling, accidents on the carpet and perhaps even that emergency trip to the vet at 3am after your dog contracts giardia from infected lake water (this can be avoided by keeping your puppy inside until your vet recommends that it be allowed outdoors, as well as avoiding standing water!), but in the long run puppyhood can be one of the most rewarding moments of a dog parents life. Take every day as it comes and always keep in mind that while you are frustrated with your new puppy’s lack of understanding, your new puppy is just as bewildered by what you are asking it to do. Take puppyhood and add a lesson of patience and you’ll enjoy watching your newest family member growing old with your family.