raising healthy puppies

Raising a puppy can be both overwhelming for the under-prepared and fly by so fast for the savvy dog owner.  It’s passing, in many ways, is bittersweet.  Each individual is unique and comes with their own specific needs.  If you have a puppy or are thinking about getting one here are 6 things that will help you and your puppy build a low-stress relationship!

  1. Do your homework!  Success takes preparation and dogs need things.  Everything from the food you feed, to the veterinarian you utilize, to the the place your dog hangs out when you’re away is important.  While there’s never a one-size-fits-all, educating yourself about the various challenges and approaches to raising a puppy will help determine the best course of action at each step along the way.  Read Dr. Ian Dunbar’s free e-book BEFORE You Get Your Puppy.
  2. Puppies are predictable!  Behavior progresses along a continuum.  As your puppy ages through the various stages of life certain behavior patterns are to be expected.  Puppies mouth, they jump, they chew on things, and they have poor bladder control (at first).  Because these things are predictable, the environment can be arranged allowing behaviors to be channeled into appropriate arenas before or as they occur.  Read Dr. Ian Dunbar’s free e-book AFTER You Get Your Puppy.
  3. Every experience matters!  Peak period of socialization for puppies is 8-12 week so act fast, the day you bring your puppy home. Make every new experience a good one by using treats or play to help your puppy make a positive association.  Allow people of all ages, sizes, shapes, and colors handle your dog gently while you feed him treats.  Protect and remove your puppy from situations with overzealous handling or aggressive participants.  If he seems shy or gets scared let him retreat to safety then encourage him to approach again at his own pace.  It’s not the quantity of people, it’s the variety and quality of interactions that matter most. Use this handy Socialization Scavenger Hunt and sign up for a Puppy Social to help make short work of socializing your puppy!
  4. House training can make or break the relationship.  While a crate training may not be 100% necessary or appropriate for all dogs, preventing your puppy from going potty out of sight is a must.  When not crated, keep her on leash, with you, or confined to a well supervised area.  Set a time timer to ring every 15-30 minutes to remind you to take your puppy out regularly.  Keep potty breaks short and no more than 3-5 minutes.  SEE her go potty in the RIGHT spot and then tell her how awesome she is right away!
  5. Use the right tools, the right way.  Remember, every experience matters.  A comfortable leather leash and a martingale style collar are best for most dogs.  Some may be more comfortable in a harness.  Choose a harness that allows the leash to connect in front of the dog’s chest.  A gentle leader can provide additional control for puppies and dogs that like to pull.
  6. Let it go!  They didn’t mean it and they don’t know why you’re angry, especially if it happened while you weren’t around.  Puppies are frustratingly messy, rude, obnoxious, cheeky, sassy, and saucy.  Puppies are also adorably playful, curious, and oh so itty bitty!  Focus on the good stuff and you’ll get more of it.  It’s okay to use the crate if you need a time out.  Remember: This, too, shall pass!