The Essential Guide to Raising Your Puppy

Puppy Essentials

Important Things to Know and Do Before Bringing Home a Puppy (3 Months Old or Younger)

This post will take you through the most essential information you need to know, once you decide on bringing home a puppy. Its’ goal is for you to be fully prepared with all the facts you need to know, so that you can succeed in raising your puppy and training your puppy properly.

  1. Research and Prepare:
    • Learn about the breed or mix to understand their specific needs, temperament, and potential health issues.
    • Puppy-proof your home by removing hazards, toxic substances, and fragile items that the puppy could reach.
  2. Find a Reputable Breeder or Rescue:
    • If getting a puppy from a breeder, ensure they prioritize health, temperament, and socialization.
    • If adopting from a rescue, inquire about the puppy’s background, health history, and behavior.
  3. Health and Vaccinations:
    • Schedule a veterinarian appointment for a thorough health check-up and vaccinations.
    • Discuss a deworming schedule and preventive measures for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.
  4. Proper Nutrition and Feeding:
    • Choose a high-quality puppy food recommended by your veterinarian.
    • Establish a feeding schedule and portion sizes appropriate for the puppy’s age and breed.
  5. Establish a Routine:
    • Set a consistent daily schedule for feeding, potty breaks, exercise, playtime, and rest.
    • Puppies thrive on routine, and it helps with their training and overall well-being.
  6. Potty Training:
    • Set up a designated elimination area outdoors and consistently take the puppy there after meals, naps, and play sessions.
    • Use positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, when the puppy eliminates in the appropriate area.
  7. Socialization:
    • Expose the puppy to a variety of people, animals, sounds, and environments to promote confidence and prevent fear or aggression.
    • Enroll in a well-managed puppy socialization class to provide controlled interactions with other puppies.
  8. Bite Inhibition and Gentle Play:
    • Teach the puppy to have a soft mouth by redirecting and rewarding gentle play and discouraging biting or nipping.
    • Provide appropriate chew toys to satisfy the puppy’s natural urge to chew and alleviate teething discomfort.
  9. Basic Obedience Training:
    • Teach basic commands like sit, stay, come, and leave it using positive reinforcement methods.
    • Keep training sessions short, fun, and consistent to maintain the puppy’s interest and progress.
  10. Exercise and Mental Stimulation:
    • Provide regular exercise appropriate for the puppy’s age and breed to prevent behavioral problems caused by excess energy.
    • Engage in interactive play and provide puzzle toys to mentally stimulate the puppy and prevent boredom.

Week by Week Checklist For Training Your Puppy

Week 1:

  • Start potty training and establish a consistent routine.
  • Begin crate training for short periods, gradually increasing duration.
  • Introduce the puppy to a collar and leash for short, positive experiences.

Week 2:

  • Continue potty training and reinforce good elimination habits.
  • Teach the puppy their name and respond to basic commands like “sit” and “come” using treats and praise.
  • Begin socialization by introducing the puppy to different people, gentle dogs, and novel environments.

Week 3:

  • Expand potty training to include specific cues or command words.
  • Work on loose leash walking in a low-distraction environment.
  • Practice basic obedience commands with increasing consistency and fading lure rewards.

Week 4:

  • Reinforce potty training and continue expanding the puppy’s elimination cues.
  • Gradually increase the duration of crate training and reinforce positive associations.
  • Expose the puppy to various sights, sounds, and surfaces to build confidence.

Week 5:

  • Introduce basic impulse control exercises, such as “leave it” and “wait.”
  • Begin supervised playdates with well-mannered dogs to enhance social skills.
  • Continue reinforcing potty training and general obedience commands.

Week 6:

  • Strengthen potty training by reducing accidents and increasing outside successes.
  • Practice recall exercises in a safe and controlled environment.
  • Encourage appropriate chewing behavior by providing a variety of chew toys.

Week 7:

  • Further develop loose leash walking skills in different environments.
  • Continue socialization efforts with new people, animals, and environments.
  • Attend puppy classes or training sessions for structured learning and socialization.

Week 8:

  • Refine basic obedience commands and work on reliability.
  • Expose the puppy to common household stimuli, such as vacuum cleaners and doorbells.
  • Gradually introduce grooming activities, such as brushing and nail trimming.

Week 9:

  • Solidify potty training and establish a consistent elimination routine.
  • Focus on reinforcing polite greetings and discourage jumping on people.
  • Continue socialization efforts with an emphasis on positive experiences.

Week 10:

  • Gradually transition from puppy food to an appropriate adult dog diet.
  • Work on duration and distance for obedience commands.
  • Introduce the concept of settling on a mat or in a designated area.

Week 11:

  • Practice polite behaviors, like sitting for attention and waiting at doors.
  • Continue exposing the puppy to a variety of people, animals, and environments.
  • Discuss future training goals and long-term care with a professional trainer.

Important Warnings, Cautions, and Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Avoid Overwhelming the Puppy:
    • Limit exposure to stressful or overwhelming situations, especially during the early socialization period.
    • Gradually introduce new experiences and environments to prevent fear or anxiety.
  2. Be Cautious with Handling and Restraint:
    • Handle the puppy gently and positively to build trust and prevent fear-based behaviors.
    • Avoid rough play or excessive restraint, as it can lead to fear or aggression.
  3. Watch for Signs of Stress or Discomfort:
    • Learn to recognize stress signals in dogs, such as panting, lip licking, yawning, or avoidance behaviors.
    • If the puppy shows signs of stress, provide a calm environment and adjust the intensity of the situation.
  4. Avoid Punishment-Based Training Methods:
    • Positive reinforcement is the most effective and humane way to train a puppy.
    • Avoid physical punishment, yelling, or any training techniques that cause fear or harm.
  5. Be Wary of Inadequate Socialization:
    • Insufficient socialization can lead to fear, anxiety, and behavior problems later in life.
    • Expose the puppy to a variety of people, animals, and environments in a positive and controlled manner.
  6. Beware of Inconsistent Rules and Boundaries:
    • Inconsistent expectations confuse the puppy and hinder training progress.
    • Establish clear rules and boundaries and ensure all family members are consistent in enforcing them.
  7. Watch for Signs of Illness or Health Issues:
    • Monitor the puppy’s appetite, energy levels, coat condition, and bathroom habits.
    • Seek veterinary attention promptly if you notice any abnormal behaviors or signs of illness.
  8. Avoid Overfeeding and Improper Nutrition:
    • Follow the veterinarian’s recommendations for feeding portions and choose a high-quality puppy food.
    • Overfeeding can lead to obesity and related health issues.
  9. Be Cautious with Introductions to Other Animals:
    • Introduce the puppy to other animals gradually and under controlled circumstances.
    • Watch for signs of aggression or fear and intervene if necessary.
  10. Avoid Skipping Basic Training and Socialization:
    • Early training and socialization are crucial for a well-adjusted adult dog.
    • Skipping these essential steps can lead to behavioral issues down the line.

So now you have a better understanding of what you need to do and what you can do to make your relationship with your puppy a successful one. Remember, the most important thing is time. The more time you spend with them now the easier it will be down the road for everyone. So enjoy every moment because they grow up so fast!

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