First Time Puppy Owners
By Jason Wright
April 21, 2022
Getting Ready for Life with a Puppy
If you are considering getting a puppy, we urge you to really ask yourself, “Should I Get a Dog?” before you make the commitment. It’s not easy to make sure that a puppy grows into a friendly and obedient adult dog. It is a serious responsibility, and you need to be dedicated to their wellbeing and training.
If you have just recently brought a puppy home or have made up your mind about getting one, congratulations and welcome to the dog owner club! Below, we have compiled a guide on how to prepare for your new pup and the steps you need take to ensure that they have the best opportunity at a happy life.
Remember that the more you put into your puppy’s training and well-being, the more you will get back from them. We do urge you to consider professional training as this will give your dog the best foundation and provide you with the resources you need to continue with their obedience training.
Meeting Your Puppy
How to approach a puppy is an often-overlooked interaction that can set the tone for how your puppy learns to interact with others. We urge that from the very start of your relationship you make a genuine effort to set healthy boundaries. This will help ensure that your puppy gains a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
We understand that in actual practice, it can be difficult to stick to a structure as puppies do tend to be all over the place. For this reason, it is important that you take your time, learn your puppy’s body language, and engage with them in a non-dominating way. Every moment of a dog’s life is a training opportunity, and you must learn to act as their calm leader.
Creating a Space for Your Puppy
Taking your puppy home for the first time is a very exciting experience! However, you must keep in mind that this is a huge change for them. Dogs are creatures of habit, and this is likely the first time that they have ever been apart from their mother and littermates.
Be patient and take the time to create a safe space for them. If possible, ask for something from where they were previously, such as a blanket or toy. This item will have a familiar scent and will help serve as a comfort item for your pup while he/she gets used to their new home.
Just like us humans, dogs also need time to themselves. You should already have a private space set up for them before you arrive home. We suggest utilizing a crate to be their safe space to relax. It should not be something that either you or your dog associate with punishment. Ideally, it should be in a low-traffic area. The crate is useful for multiple reasons, like helping with potty training and preventing damage to your belongings. In terms of sizing, it’s best to get a crate that will allow your dog to grow into it.
What to Feed Your Puppy
As dog trainers, canine nutrition is not our expertise and we encourage you to seek your breeders recommendation. There are many differing opinions about the raw food versus kibble debate, and research is still ongoing.
Training Your New Puppy
We have an overview of the first things to teach a new puppy which will help you get ready to start your training and continue it into adulthood. As mentioned above, it so important to be patient. Your pet is young and still learning!
Every reaction you have — whether positive or negative — teaches your puppy something. If they are barking excessively and you pet them in order to calm them down, you have just reinforced this behaviour. Later, if you get upset with your puppy when they bark incessantly, this will be confusing as they thought this reaction was okay. As owners, we must take personal responsibility for what we teach to our pet (whether intentional or not). Be mindful that how your puppy acts is a reflection of the time and effort you put into their training.
Further, it is not just you that has to commit to your dog’s training, but rather every person in your household and whoever comes into contact with them. We encourage you to utilize a reward-based, balanced approach towards training as all-positive dog training isn’t ideal. Being consistent and following through with what your dog needs for a long period of time is not easy for some, but it is worth it.
High Value Rewards:
Using high-value rewards for dog training is extremely important. Whether your dog loves hot dogs or a pieces of cheese, carry them with you all the time and use them.
Potty training your puppy will probably be one of the hardest things to do. While the task itself is not difficult, there will be some sleepless lights and lots of accidents. You need to be able to keep your cool and focus on the end goal. Watch your puppy for any indication that they need to go. Be proactive by utilizing their crate, setting a routine around feeding, and making sure they have adequate time outdoors.
Proper leash training with the appropriate tools is a very important as walks will be a daily activity you do with your dog. Bad leash manners can easily lead to issues like reactivity, which can cause serious anxiety for you and your pup. Without proper training, a simple walk can become a dangerous endeavour.
A solid understanding of basic commands are more than just a cool party trick. At minimum, your dog should be taught “SIT!”, “DOWN!”, “STAY!” and recall. These commands reinforce good behaviour and will help you build a solid relationship with your puppy as they grow. From this basics, there are many additional commands which can also work to improve both of your daily lives.
The iTK9 Way
We encourage you to enrol your dog in obedience training as soon as they are eligible. At iTrainK9, we offer board and train programs that are specifically intended for puppies, designed to help them grow into them into happy and obedient adult dogs. Please reach out if you have any questions about your new puppy and are considering professional dog training!