So, you’ve chosen your new family member having spent months researching the perfect breed. The big day has arrived, and you give him a tour of the house before leaving him in the next room for 15 minutes whilst you prepare dinner. When you return you find a few puddles, some tiny pieces of chewed up wood which look as though they were pulled from the table leg and scratch marks all up the door. Suddenly it dawns on you that this cute, tiny, fluffy bundle of joy has needle-like teeth, razor-sharp claws and a teeny-weeny bladder! So, what do you do?
Firstly, don’t panic! Easier said than done I know. We’ve all been there, and it does get less challenging, I promise.
How to bond with a puppy
Spend plenty of time with your new family member but don’t overwhelm him. Make sure you leave him alone every now and again for short periods of time as this will condition him to accept your occasional absence and help prevent any major separation anxiety issues down the line. Offer plenty of toys to keep his mind occupied whilst you’re away (interactive treat toys such as Kongs, snuffle mats, treat-dispensing balls etc are all great) and make sure he also has plenty of safe, chewable toys to teeth on when those big adult molars start making an appearance.
Secondly, keep him confined at first rather than allowing him full run of the house. This is to get him used to his surroundings without it being too overwhelming and will also prevent any confusion when it comes to toilet training. Keeping him close to his toilet area (usually the back garden) is best. Taking him out every half an hour is a general rule that I like to go by and this length of time can be slowly increased the older he gets.
Thirdly, reward all four paws on the ground from day one. It’s cute when a tiny puppy jumps up for kisses, but it suddenly becomes less adorable when that 10kg puppy turns into a 50kg Dobermann!
To teach this I simply reward when all four paws are on the ground with a tiny, tasty treat and ignore or turn away when he jumps up. He will soon learn that keeping his paws on the ground gets the good stuff and jumping up yields nothing. The more consistent you are, and everyone around him for that matter, the quicker he will realise what is expected of him.
These are just a few starting points, but they will help you get off on the right foot and ensure you build a positive and rewarding bond between you and your new family member.