Having a new puppy, particularly if you’re a first-time fur parent is so exciting. Your puppy is the cutest little fluff ball on the planet and there is nothing you wouldn’t do and nothing you wouldn’t buy for your little bundle of delight. And boy are there plenty of things to buy; the best fluffy beds, top of the range food and drink bowls, toys, chews, some people even like to dress their pets in little outfits, and now this little bundle of fluff has stolen your heart It’s all fun fun fun – isn’t it?
Or do you feel that it might have been easier if your puppy had come with a warning “will chew your shoes, rip your belongings, wail loudly all night long or screech for hours every time you go out”.
And why did no one tell you that you would soon be wondering how something so small could make so much noise and mess, behave like its being murdered each time you try to take it out to toilet, and then produce enough poo and pee to sink a battleship when after what felt like hours in the freezing cold, defeated and deflated, you bring it back indoors, or how it can wriggle backwards at the speed of light when you try to attach collar and leash to go for a walk.
And what happened to all those who promised to always walk the pup forever and ever if only you would let them have him/her? The family who said they would take turns to feed and walk the pup?
Well you are not alone ….
I remember when one of my pup first arrived, I soon learned that initial excitement can quickly give way to frustration, I can clearly remember being so delighted that my boy Beau had learned to get upstairs all by himself that I squealed with delight – I squealed again some days later when I went upstairs and found the huge brown pool of diarrhoea that spread all across my beautiful mint green carpet.
And believe me when I tell you that there is not an alarm clock on the planet that gets you out of bed faster than being woken from a deep sleep by the sound of a retching puppy, only for you to step into a pool of slimy frothy vomit – how did all of that come out of something so small?
So whether it’s your first or your fifth, each pup is as different and individual as we are, so the chances are that the new puppy journey you have just embarked upon will have much to teach you.
To begin with think of your pup as a toddler who has no concept of right or wrong and you are the parent who has to teach them everything from potty training, walking on a leash, socialising and being well mannered – seems daunting at first doesn’t it?
As puppyhood is the most important time for learning, I’d like to share a few tips that helped me with my pups and may help you in those first few months together.
Always try to have a calm but assertive approach when you’re when dealing with your pup, the aim is to provide positive, gentle and reward-based training. Don’t get upset if your pup doesn’t “get it” straight away or if he/she does something wrong or has a little accident now and then.
Though there will be times when you may feel convinced that he/she is doing it deliberately to get on your nerves – believe me, they really don’t know any better at this stage so be patient as it takes time.
A crate can be an invaluable tool particularly when potty training as it provides your pup with a secure area whilst you are busy. If your pup is reluctant to go in at first, persuade him/her by using a Kong with some natural peanut butter, (but make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol as this is a sweetener that is dangerous to dogs). Always praise your pup when it gets something right or does something you asked it to do. Don’t, however, leave your pup in the crate for too long as this can cause other issues.
A baby gate will also help to keep your pup out of areas that may be dangerous or simply “off-limits”, this will teach your pup what areas he/she is allowed to go into or not, and will help provide a safe area for your pup to play in.
If your pup cries all night – I won’t lie, I never had this problem because I always took my babies upstairs and they slept in my room until they decided to go elsewhere to sleep. I know this is not an option for everyone and I’ve heard of lots of different things to try, old fashioned alarm clocks have a soothing ticking sound that is said to help the puppy sleep. An old piece of your unwashed clothing to snuggle into or a teddy bear to cuddle with – it really is all trial and error. Your pup will sleep when it feels safe, warm and protected – its for you to find that place so that you can all get some sleep.
Teach your pup the command “eyes on me” this is a great way of getting your dogs attention during training especially if they are easily distracted by other things around them in the big outside world.
Also teaching your pup to “go to your mat” is a good way to prevent them from running and barking in a frenzy every time someone arrives at the front door and will save you from receiving those embarrassing postcards from the post office telling you that your dogs behaviour is upsetting the postman – yes I’ve had them!
Do avoid giving in to things now that will lead to problem behaviour later on, no matter how cute that little face is. For example, don’t let your pup jump up at people when they visit. Though this seems so cute now, once the dog is grown it may not be so acceptable – I have lost count of the times I have been knocked into someone’s flower bed by an overexcited dog running out and jumping up to greet me.
Always make sure to distract your dog with something acceptable like a toy or a treat when you want to change their behaviour instead of just telling them off when they get it wrong.
Enrolling into a puppy training or obedience group is a great idea, but make sure to attend a proper class where all the other dogs are up to date with their vaccinations. It’s never too early to start training as it provides both mental and physical stimulation. It will not only help them to learn some manners but also help them to socialise with other dogs and help prevent difficult or dangerous situations from developing in the future.
Training with your pup will help you develop a firm bond and provide you with a better understanding of what motivates him/her so that you can continue training accordingly. Puppies just want to please you so this is a golden opportunity for you to show them how. Always be consistent and always be gentle, there is no place or excuse for any negative behaviour towards your pup. They will take time to learn, they will make mistakes, and if they are anything like my boy Beau, they will embarrass you further by cocking a leg and peeing over the pup next to them.
I get asked a lot about unwanted behaviours such as chewing and barking, and I’ve had a lot of personal experience of both behaviours with my girl Lola. In just one day she chewed my handbag to pieces, chewed the door frame and ate my husband’s library book so I know how frustrating it can be.
There are lots of reasons why dogs chew but if a pup or very young dog is into this, its a strong indication that they are teething.
A good way of coping with this is to use a Kong or something similar and place some frozen peanut butter or other goodies into it and give that to the dog or simply buy toys and ropes of various textures so that your pup can chew on these – a word of warning, don’t buy shoe-shaped chews, you know where it will lead to.
If it has happened and you are quick enough to intercept your pup as it makes off with one of your best shoes, then simply offer an alternative or a treat, once the pup drops the shoe say “good boy/girl” in a very excited voice (or at least a relieved voice), your pup will soon get the idea but you must be consistent.
If your handbag or best shoe does fall casualty to your babies toofy pegs then you will have to write it off and learn your lesson that nothing is off-limits to a teething pup unless you make it so.
On the subject of teeth, a good habit to start at this stage is that of cleaning your babies teeth, do ask your vet for advice and use the smallest brush (not a human toothbrush) to begin with. Tooth decay can cause a lot of medical problems particularly if you have a pup with a heart murmur as the decaying matter can make its way into the bloodstream and cause serious issues. A yearly check-up saves a lot of problems including a massive vet bill for a tooth removal.
Is there anything worse than a dog that won’t stop barking? Well yes I can think of a few, but constant barking can drive the most loving pet owner up the wall.
Again, there are any number of reasons why dogs bark and not all of them are negative, remember this is also the sound of the dogs own language. It’s the way the dog communicates with others of its species or tells you when it wants something. It can also be an indication of fear, frustration or excitement as well as aggression or warning.
How to deal with it?
Pups usually bark because they want something, are excited or simply because they have just found their voice and quite like the sound of it – after all its new to them.
At this point, it’s a good idea to try some distraction tactics by engaging the pup with something else or by taking them for a short walk provided they are fully inoculated.
If the pup is barking because someone or something new has arrived in front of them, it could be an indication of fear. The pup will look to you for security so stay calm and tell them that it’s okay and provide them with comfort.
Always seek to reassure the pup until you can ascertain what has caused the barking – remember how you deal with this now sets the scene for the future. Never ever shout at the pup because this will only make matters worse and could create issues that prove difficult to deal with in the future.
Socialisation and training are key here, introduce your pup to many different situations, places and people as possible. People with glasses, hats, beards, tall people, short people and loud people, children and other dogs – though always supervise the latter two carefully and never leave a tiny pup alone with small children until they have learned to handle the pup with respect and gentleness. Always have treats on hand to reward your pup in new circumstances and never be afraid to tell other dog owners to back off if their dog gets a bit rough or overexcited with your pup.
This is a biggie for a lot of new puppy owners, here are a few tips that helped me stay sane not only with pups but also with adult rescue dogs I’ve adopted who weren’t potty trained.
Firstly, be prepared for accidents, your pup will get it wrong and so will you.
The pup is not out to make your life a misery but do try to see things from their point of view some of the time – would you really like to go pee-pee in the freezing cold dark night or when it’s lashing down with rain? You will get stressed, the pup will get stressed and the moment you step back indoors the pup will pee !!
Choose a particular area where you want your pup to toilet and take the pup out on a regular basis, particularly after meals and before bedtime.
In the first few months, and if your pup is small enough, carry it to the designated area so that it gets the message that this is where you want it to toilet, reinforce this by saying something like “wee wee” so that your pup associates the place and the words with the action.
Use positive reinforcement, so that each time your pup does a pee or poo say “good boy/girl” in an excited tone of voice and provide a treat. The pup will soon learn that it will be rewarded each time it goes to that place to pee or poo.
If your pup has an accident – and it will – ignore this, clean it up and say nothing. Use a disinfectant that removes the smell as well as cleans or your pup will keep going to toilet there. Pets at Home have several good brands that will remove the odour and disinfect the floor.
Never hit, shout or rub the pup’s nose in the mess – this is abuse and serves no purpose other than to terrify the pup and delay or prevent the training.
Remember it really is on you if your pup keeps going to toilet in the house and you need to increase your pups trips outside, never scold the pup for your mistakes.
If your pup is very slow to toilet train or continually relapses, seek advice from your vet and get your pup examined in case there is an underlying infection or problem.
In the meantime, you can get (human) adult-sized disposable incontinence sheets from Amazon, that you can put down on the floor – they saved my sanity during some difficult times with my rescue dogs.
When out walking in public areas, always pick up after your dog, it is an offence not to do so and you can be fined.
MORE GENERAL INFORMATION
Puppies need lots of naps, it’s essential for them to grow so don’t be surprised at how much they nap.
Exercise your pup, but not too much too soon and only take them outside once they are fully inoculated, seek guidance from your vet if you are unsure.
Initially avoid taking your little pup into big shops or places where lots of other dogs go, parvovirus, other diseases and parasites can last a long time in areas that are not properly cleaned or where people have not picked up after their adult dogs.
Try to get your pup used to being handled, particularly around their face, feet, legs etc as this will help the pup cope with being handled on future visits to the vet and the groomer. Always handle with care and gentleness and never allow children to “play” with your pup – remember they are only babies.
Get your pup used to travelling by car as soon as you can, this will help them with any travel sickness issues.
Ensure that everything your pup needs, such as beds and feeding bowls are in low traffic or quieter areas of the home so that they are not disturbed by lots of noise or people coming in and out.
Does your pup cry, whine or bark excessively when you leave the room or the house for any length of time, or destroy and chew things up when you are not there?
This could well be separation anxiety.
Before your pup came to you it lived with its mum and siblings and there was always someone to go to for comfort, food or whatever.
Now this beautiful pup has left its family behind and lives with you and your family, your pup doesn’t understand everything in this strange new environment.
You can’t be with your pup all of the time, you have to go out for whatever reason and the pup can’t always go with you. Now for some pups, this is no issue as they will use this time to catch up on much-needed sleep. However, for others, this will become a time of distress and worry that, if not addressed, can escalate to the point where the young dog damages its home or itself.
Separation anxiety is a complex situation that can require the advice and help of a suitably qualified person and in extreme situations may never be fully resolved. Unfortunately, many dogs who suffer from this often find themselves put up for adoption or simply abandoned.
The treatment of separation anxiety requires a consistent approach and can initially feel distressing.
You may need to start with placing distance between you and the pup or young dog in order to reduce its dependency upon you.
By simply ignoring your pup just prior to departure and again on return some cases can correct themselves without further intervention.
However, some cases are more difficult to deal with because the pup is very needy and its relationship with you creates real distress when you are not there and the pup is left alone.
In such cases you may need to lessen the bond with the pup by cooling the overall relationship, stroking less or getting someone else to feed or take on things like walking and visits to the vet so that the pup gets used to other people in its life.
Crating the pup may help to a certain extent but this should always be a short term solution.
Providing sufficient exercise throughout the day coupled with obedience training and mock departures to help desensitise or diffuse the situation may also help to calm the pup.
Providing an alternative stimulus such as leaving the television on or providing an acceptable object to chew can also help the pup to remain calm when you are out if all else fails the dog may require medical intervention, but that should always be a last resort.
Doggie daycare in an environment with a limited amount of other dogs is another way of dealing with long term issues as the pup or young dog gets one to one attention but also has the opportunity to enjoy the company and comfort of others – always ensure all the dogs get on with each other before making this a permanent thing.
Large dog daycare facilities should be avoided until the pup is old enough to cope with it otherwise you could be swapping one type of anxiety for another.
ONE LAST THING
The answer to most things is time, love and patience by the bucket load so enjoy every minute of your adventure with your pup.
WHERE WE COME IN
Scamps and Champs Cardiff provide a whole range of individually tailored pet care services.
We can step in when you need to step out – providing support, company, feeding and cleaning, dog walking, puppy visits or visits to the vet and groomers – in fact, anything your pup needs.
We can also provide daycare for your pup or young dog in carefully selected environments where they can continue both their training and daily routine.
Here in Cardiff we are open seven days a week and cover bank holidays so why not give us a call?
Ring: 0333 200 5827
Or Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org