Did you and your family recently get a new puppy? If so, here are a few tips to help get you and your new puppy started off right.
I’m sure you’ve already have the basic needs and supplies: a name picked, puppy food, water and food bowls, dog bed and/or crate, toys, leash, collar and/or harness and of course, treats.
First, it’s important that you allow your puppy to get settled in your home the first week. Acclimating, training and socializing your puppy is very important and once your puppy is settled, you can start training and socializing your puppy right away. Socializing your puppy is so much more than just meeting a few other puppies, dogs and people, it’s exposing them to a variety of things that appeals to all their senses. Sights, sounds, tactile, smell and taste. For puppies that still need vaccinations, you can carry your puppy or push them around in a puppy stroller around your neighborhood, take a drive in the car or in a shopping cart while at a dog friendly store.
When you are introducing your puppy to new people, things and experiences, take it very slow (baby steps), pair it with a yummy treat your puppy loves and make it fun. Don’t force your puppy into checking out new things, allow them to approach them on their own terms. Respect their feelings if they appear too scared. If your puppy won’t take the treat, has his tail tucked, looks worried, crouches toward the ground, etc., move them to a comfortable distance where they feel it is OK and not so scared anymore… And don’t worry that by moving away and providing comfort to your puppy, you will be reinforcing their fear, you will instead teach him or her trust, that they can count on you to have their back. Use common sense and take the time to learn about dog body language it’s your dog’s only communication with you and it will help you and recognize what your puppy is saying. Help make these experiences be a SAFE positive one and have FUN too.
As you start to socialize your new pup, try to meet about a 100 different people of all shapes, ages, ethnicity, gender, and different clothing (hats vs. no hat, dress clothes, uniforms, jeans and t-shirt, etc.). Have a puppy party and invite friends and family with or without puppies for play, fun and lots of attention but be aware of your puppy’s feelings and body language and be ready to cut the party short if your pup is or becoming overwhelmed.
When you are out and about with your puppy, make it a game or adventure, like a scavenger hunt and socialize them to different places, things, sounds and activities such as urban areas, pet friendly buildings, your vet’s office, public parks (avoid dog parks until fully vaccinated), other animals (cats, friendly dogs, farm animals, etc.), car rides, big trucks, the vacuum, wheelchairs, walkers, trees, fire hydrants, statues, soccer or baseball games, elevator rides and of course puppy class and anything you can think of by the time they are 12-16 weeks old.
Socialized and trained puppies become well-balanced and happy dogs, in turn also means a happier pet parent. Training and socialization doesn’t and shouldn’t end with puppyhood, it’s a lifelong experience and one that should be always fun and encouraging. Continue to introduce your puppy to a variety of different positive experiences as they grow and enter into different life stages.
So, get ready, get set and go have fun with your puppy and take these few tips to get started on your adventure:
- Enroll in a positive reinforcement puppy class or with a private force-free trainer in your area
- Socialize your puppy with different sights, sounds, people, places and things
- Talk to your veterinarian about how to keep your puppy healthy and up to date on regular vet care and vaccinations
- Make their veterinary experience fun and fear free. Talk to your veterinarian about a convenient time for bringing your puppy in for a few quick visits in the reception area feeding your dog treats and getting some love, then leave. The more often you can visit for fun even if it’s outside the office or only once a month can be effective and a positive experience. Who doesn’t love a visit from a puppy or dog?
- Play games, help them learn and have fun with your puppy!
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