Bringing a new puppy home is an exciting time for everyone it’s also a crucial time to ensure your puppy settles into its new surroundings as positively as possible. Especially because everything that your puppy learns in the first 16 weeks or so of its life will be retained in its memory for life...good or bad.
So whilst there is much to learn about taking good care of a puppy there are three key issues I am often asked about:
Puppies explore their environment with their mouths and use their mouths in play and when teething. So it’s important we allow them to do this but direct it in the right way. We should provide a range of safe, non toxic and size appropriate toys and rotate them daily to keep their interest. Raw bones can also help to exercise their jaw and keep their teeth clean but check with your vet about the right size for your pup.
Never encourage rough play and biting when they are a puppy as whilst this is fun when they are little it becomes a problem when they grow up. If they do go to mouth or bite you use toys to divert them before they connect with you. It’s also important not to reinforce the behaviour that we don’t want, the best way to do this is ignore them walk away or fold your arms and turn your back and no verbal response. As all of this if you do it the wrong way gives the puppy what it wants...our attention.
Puppies also love to dig so that's where interactive and safe chewing toys can help occupy their time when your out. A sand pit can also help especially if filled with treats and toys they need to search for.
And the big one, toilet training! Puppies may not develop full control of their bladder until 20 or more weeks of age, so you definitely need to have patience. Always take them outside to the same spot you want them to go when they wake up, after eating, after play or every few hours during the day and when you see them circling and sniffing as well. Praise them a lot when they go and you can even use a treat at times when they have been especially good at going to the desired spot on their own. Remember never to rub their nose in it or punish them if they have had an accident as they are still learning. In fact even when they do know better and you haven't caught them in the act, do not punish them later as they will have no association what they have done and what they’re being punished for. If you catch them in the act give them a quick ‘ah’ to help stop the flow pick them up and take them out to their spot and praise them when they go there.
It is vital we are consistent with everything we do, praise and reward the desired behaviour and avoid reinforcing the behaviours we don't want and of course don't forget pet insurance for your puppy so you can make sure it’s covered for life's little accidents throughout its whole life.
HIF is a Major Sponsor of Pooches at Play. For information on HIF pet insurance visit hif.com.au/pet.