Welcoming a puppy into your family is SO exciting! A new family member, a best friend, a snuggly fur ball…and a new full-time job.
Puppies are work! Imagine becoming a parent and being instantly thrown into toddlerhood. Only this toddler has razor sharp teeth, nips, and needs instant potty training.
FUN TIMES HUH?
Growing up, my mom bred and showed dogs, and as an adult, I have had five dogs, which I have seen from puppyhood to adulthood. We just welcomed a new 10-week-old German Shepherd puppy into our family. It is always an exhaustive experience at first, yet keeping these few simple things in mind will help you get started with success!
Schedule a Vet Visit
Establishing veterinary care is one of the most important things you can do. Some people may not realize this, but getting a puppy means a three-way relationship between you, your puppy, and your vet. Pet care is a lifelong commitment to your puppy’s health and well-being. This kind of commitment is what your veterinarian can gladly help you with during and well beyond the first crucial months of your puppy’s life.
You will need to complete pet vaccines that protect your new puppy. Vaccination is needed between six and eight weeks, then 10 and 12 weeks, and again when the puppy reaches his 16th week. Generally, puppies get three to four series of vaccines, followed by annual shots.
The vet will also take time during these visits to examine the overall wellness of puppy, answer training questions, and check for other possible health issues.
We crate train our puppies. Occasionally, this can cause the same reaction with people when you say that you sleep train your children. In my opinion, my vet’s opinion, and the opinion of most breeders, it is a safe and reliable way to give your pet an area of comfort and solace. The Purina website a great resource for all information regarding crate training. As soon as we say, “Let’s go night night!” our pups head to the crate and snuggle in with their favorite blanket and crate-safe toys.
Similar to toddlers, puppies will bite, destroy, and rip things apart. Offering a wide selection of puppy-safe toys will aid in lessening their teething destruction. When looking for safe toys, the Humane Society offers these great guidelines:
- Active toys. Hard rubber toys such as Nylabone® and Kong®-type products come in many shapes and sizes and are fun for teething and chewing.
- Distraction toys. Kong®-type toys, especially when filled with broken-up treats, can keep a puppy or dog busy for hours.
- Comfort toys. Soft, stuffed toys are good for several purposes, but they aren’t appropriate for all dogs. Make sure the sizing is right for your pup and that they don’t have small pieces that can be ripped apart.
Patience is a virtue. Please remember this when it comes to housetraining with your pup! I love using training treats like these Wellness Soft Puppy Bites. You will be in and out quite a bit during the early days of potty training. Always use a leash and collar with your pup for safety and attempt to take them outside every 30 minutes or so.
You will start to learn their “potty signs,” yet in the beginning you will need to rush out when puppy wakes from sleeping/naps, after puppy eats or drinks, after a play session and anytime you notice puppy sniffing around or circling. As soon as you get outside, use the verbiage, “Go potty!” Let puppy sniff around and do his/her business. As SOON as puppy goes, be sure to wildly praise and offer a training treat. A puppy’s attention span is so short, that if you delay praise and treat after potty time, they will completely forget what they did to deserve the treat.
When your vet gives approval, feel free to take puppy to a Puppy Kindergarten Class! This will be a great chance to get to work side by side with your puppy and learn basic skills. You can also begin taking puppy out on the town. Call ahead and double check that Fido is allowed, but you can have so much fun introducing puppy to public spaces. This Detroit Mom resource offers many great options in + around Detroit. I am always very cautious when I do go places like dog parks or public places because other people will have loose dogs, or dogs perhaps not well behaved around other pups. So, stay vigilant and protect that pooch. Check out this resource for dog park safety.
Kids, Manners, and Dogs
While having five young children in my house, it has always been very important to me to keep safety in mind with dogs. Particularly nippy pups and teasing toddlers. A few rules I have that are non-negotiable would include:
- Giving the pup space. Absolutely allowing for cuddling and connection, however, we respect the dog by giving it space and keeping our faces a respectable distance from their mouths.
- We ONLY pet nicely — hard petting, pulling hair, and tugging on tails is an absolute no-no. We expect the dog to respect us, we need to respect them.
- When it is doggy dinner time, we do not bug them while they’re eating. That is something that the dog needs to be trained on. Food aggression is a real thing and can result in a dog using natural instincts to protect their food. Not acceptable, but true — so we teach our kids that doggy dinner time means hands off.
- Puppies have SHARP teeth. Puppies are teething. Puppies don’t know what a teething toy is vs. what isn’t. Have a lot of things available and warn your kiddos ahead of time that if pup is getting nippy, to grab their favorite toy and start playing instead.
Raising puppies and kids can be so much fun. Puppies take a lot of work and patience, yet hopefully between using this resource guide and a good surface cleaner to wipe up puppy pee, you will be on the road to success! Congrats on your new furry friend!