You’ve made the decision to get a new puppy and exciting times lie ahead! To ensure the transition for you and your new furry pal is as smooth as possible, we’ve put together a handy 'new puppy starter pack' to ensure you’re prepared for the bundle of fun arriving into your home.
Your First Few Days!
Spend plenty of time with your new family member but don’t overwhelm them. Make sure you leave them alone every now and again for short periods of time as this will condition them to accept your occasional absence and help prevent any major separation anxiety issues down the line. Offer plenty of toys to keep their mind occupied whilst you’re away (interactive treat toys such as Kongs, snuffle mats, treat dispensing toys etc are all great) and make sure they also have plenty of safe, chewable toys to teeth on when those big adult molars start making an appearance.
Toilet training your puppy
Keeping your pup confined at first rather than allowing them full run of the house will help to get them used to his surroundings and will also prevent any confusion when it comes to toilet training. Keeping them close to his toilet area (usually the back garden) is best, but there are also in home solutions, such as puppy pads, for when the urge to go is too much to bear! Taking them out every half an hour is a general rule that we like to go by and this length of time can be slowly increased the older they get. Stay calm and never shout at your pup if they go to the toilet where they shouldn’t as they won’t know why you’re telling them off and they may stop going to the toilet in front of you in future. This will cause all sorts of problems in the future so instead of reprimanding your puppy, simply redirect them to where they should be going to the toilet and reward every time they get it right.
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Health and insurance for your puppy
Welcoming a new furry family member into the family is exciting but it mustn’t be a choice taken lightly as vet bills quickly add up. Vaccinations, flea and worming treatments should be discussed with your vet as soon as you bring your puppy home as prevention is always better than cure. Looking up and comparing insurance companies until you find the right cover for you and your pup is also important as they vary greatly. Speaking to your vet about this at your puppy’s first checkup will help steer you in the right direction.
Grooming your puppy
You should think about what grooming tools you need as dogs come in all different coat lengths so choosing the right grooming equipment is important. Long coated puppies will need a comb for de-matting, a slicker brush and a long-haired Furminator once their adult coat starts coming through. Short-haired puppies with a double coat may also require a slicker brush, Furminator for removing dead undercoat when the adult coat appears and a massaging glove or Kong Zoom Groom. Single-coated breeds will just need something gentler like a massaging glove and Kong Zoom Groom for removing loose hair and massaging the skin.
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How often should you exercise your puppy?
Once your puppy has had their vaccinations they will be able to explore the big outdoors! This can be very overwhelming and scary to most pups so take it slowly and don’t expect too much too soon. Just getting them used to wearing a collar, harness and lead is a big step and may take a little time. Make sure you reward your pup with treats, a toy and praise so they know that there’s nothing to fear and keep the walks short but fun. We recommend using a harness as they’re a lot more comfortable than a standard flat collar and reduce the risk of neck injuries. Collars are great for attaching an ID tag on to (as required by law) and to use as an emergency “grab handle” but otherwise we suggest attaching the lead to a properly fitted harness. Remember not to over-exercise as it can put a massive strain on your pups growing body so short but frequent walks are the way to go. 15-30 minutes (depending on your pup's age) 3 times a day is a nice number to start with until he’s fully grown. Once your pooch is enjoying his daily adventures you can begin to think about allowing them some off lead playtime in a safe area. Check out the "Teaching your puppy their new name" section of this blog for more tips on this.
Teaching your puppy good manners
Start as you mean to go on and 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! Allowing your pup to do certain things when they are small but changing your mind when they grow will only confuse them. To teach your pooch not to jump up simply reward when all four paws are on the ground with a tiny, tasty treat and ignore or turn away when they jump up. They 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 them for that matter, the quicker they will realise what is expected of him/her.
Teaching your puppy their name
It is very important to teach your puppy his name as quickly as possible as it helps to build a solid recall which is crucial if you are to let your dog off lead. To do this, start by calling your pup every now and again inside the house and offering a treat if they respond. Move on to the garden and then outside on walks. Do this multiple, random times throughout the day and always reward when they respond to his name. They will soon learn that his name equals tasty treats so will come to you every time you call them! Keep the rewards interesting and valuable to your dog by using something they don’t get all the time such as tiny pea sized pieces of cheese or sausage. If your dog prefers toys over food then using a toy that they only get when you call them keeps it valuable and worth working for!
Socialising your new puppy
Socialising is extremely important and should begin even before you bring your new puppy home. A good breeder will have already started basic socialising so be sure to speak to them about this before collecting your puppy. From things we may overlook such as getting them used to the hoover and TV to getting them used to meeting other dogs, horses, buses, lorries etc are all things that can be seen as scary to such a small pup so allowing them to spend time around all sorts of smells, sounds and situations whilst rewarding them and keeping them happy and confident is the best way to achieve a happy-go-lucky dog.
Never force any animal into a situation they’re not comfortable with as it will only backfire in the long run. Take a step back and always go at your dog’s pace. Attending puppy classes is the perfect way to meet fellow puppy parents, share tips and stories and of course socialise your puppy with other dogs and people. A well run puppy class can be very beneficial so ask your vet if they can recommend one local to you. Just remember to take a treat bag with you and fill with lots of tiny tasty treats to keep your pup's focus on you!
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Feeding your puppy
Feeding your puppy a healthy, balanced diet is very important so take your time when choosing food for them. We work with All About Dog Food by listing all of their ratings on all our dog foods so that you can see exactly what is in the food and how high it scores. We suggest opting for a food with a rating of “good” or higher and always choosing food which has meat or fish as the first ingredient listed. Avoid foods which have “derivatives” mentioned anywhere in the composition. Some dogs do fine on a hypoallergenic wheat-free recipe whereas others may need entirely grain-free, so a little trial and error the first few weeks may be needed to settle on the right food for you and your pup. A transition period will be necessary so gradually introduce new food over a 7 day period to prevent any stomach upsets.
So to recap, here are our top 10 tips from our new puppy checklist
- Lots of playtime/bonding
- Get your puppy used to being left for short periods
- Enrichment! – interactive toys and games
- Toilet training works best if let out frequently
- Start as you mean to go on
- Teach puppy their new name early on
- Attend social/puppy classes
- Choose to reward good behaviour and redirect unwanted behaviour, rather than reprimanding
- Feed a good quality food as it can affect their behaviour
- Remain consistent
- Comfy bed
- Interactive toys
- Teething toys
- Good quality food
- Coat for chilly walks
- Long line (for recall training)
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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.
We’ve got everything you need to ensure your puppy is happy and healthy - check out our puppy range.