Taking care of a puppy: What to do, what to avoid, and what to be aware of.
Bringing a new puppy home is an exciting time for everyone in the family, especially children.
But stop a while to consider the feelings of the pup. He’s only eight weeks old and has just been taken away from the comforting world of his mother and siblings. He’s in a strange place, with strange sights, smells and sounds. Surrounded by people who must seem to him like giants, and other pets who may not welcome his presence.
It is a traumatic time for your puppy and can have a profound impact on his personality and future behavior if not handled properly.
Here are some guidelines for taking care of a puppy that will ensure a smooth transition.
Taking Care of a Puppy: Introducing the Family
Allow the introductions to take place on the puppy’s terms i.e. allow the puppy to approach rather than being carried and handed around.
Set firm ground rules for children. Don’t allow young children to pick the puppy up or wake the puppy while he is sleeping. It may be a good idea to buy the children some new toys when the puppy first arrives so that all their attention is not focussed solely on the puppy.
Taking Care of a Puppy: Introducing other Pets
Allow the first meeting between puppy and resident dog to take place while the puppy is asleep. Subsequent meetings should be supervised with the puppy on a lead, or in a pen if necessary.
Keep these meetings short, extending this to walking together as they get to know each other. During this settling in period, you (and the rest of the family) should give your adult dog more attention and affection than usual to prevent jealousy issues.
When introducing a cat to a puppy make sure that the puppy is restrained. The puppy’s natural instinct (especially as he gets older) may be to chase the cat, but you should not allow this to happen. A cat who strikes with claws out can seriously injure a puppy.
When you are not there to supervise always keep the puppy confined in a pen or behind a dog gate. After a while they’ll get used to each other and often they’ll become firm friends.
Taking Care of a Puppy: Puppy’s First Night
For a puppy used to the warmth and company of his mother and litter-mates, the first night alone is going to be stressful.
There are differing opinions on how to deal with this but it is a good idea to tire the puppy out before going to sleep. You can also ask the breeder for a piece of blanket which has his mother’s scent as this will calm him down if placed in his bed.
Keep him in your bedroom for the first few nights, reassuring him if he cries during the night. If he needs to go out take him, and praise him when he does his toilet outdoors. Like bringing up a human baby, it’s all part of the deal!
Taking Care of a Puppy: Access Control
Puppies are naturally curious and can get into all sorts of trouble if not properly supervised. Unless you have the time and energy to watch your puppy 24/7, it advisable that you create an area where you can limit his freedom to wander. This could be a simple puppy pen or a series of dog gates which restrict his access to certain areas of the house.
If you’re using a pen make it into a haven, with food, water, a bed and various toys. Try to coax him into the pen rather than forcing him in, and never use the pen as a form of punishment.
If done from an early age he’ll soon get used to being in the pen when you’re unable to supervise him.
Taking Care of a Puppy: Puppy’s Daily Routine
Your puppy will settle in more quickly if he has a familiar daily routine. Write the routine down, and stick it on the fridge or notice board. That way it is easy to stay on track with puppy’s house-training and socialization.
All households are different but you should definitely include mealtimes, play sessions, toilet breaks and training / socialization time.
Taking care of a puppy is a challenge, but one that will be all the more enjoyable if you approach it in an organized way.