Adding a new furry member to your family can be a big decision. Becoming a new dog mom or dad can be overwhelming, but also fun and exciting!
We still have a puppy hangover from our last meet-up, which brought together dog owner veterans and new paw-rents to socialize and chat about their experiences. The meet-up also included...
✔️ Puppy tips from Doug Leaf, CEO of Outpost Dog Food and a movie animal trainer (Guys, he trained #AIRBUD 🏀)!
✔️ Socialization for your puppy and new connections with other puppy parents
✔️ New friends on the PawSwap App so you can keep in touch!
✔️ Photos taken by professional photographer Vancouver Pet Photography
And of course, there was lots of tail-waggin' and slobbery kisses!
Did you miss out on the fun? Not to worry, with help from Doug, the trainer, we’ve compiled a list of 14 answers to the most common questions and concerns new puppy parents ask.
1. Beware when letting your puppy play other dogs until he or she has gotten their shots at 12 weeks. This can help your pup avoid possible exposure to various serious diseases Parvo, distemper, adenovirus, and rabies.
2. Socialize your pup as much as you can. There’s a whole world beyond your house and backyard for your puppy to explore. While keeping tip number-1 in mind, socialize your dog with your friends’ or family’s pups (just make sure they have their vaccines). Socialization isn't only fun for your puppy but also gets them more comfortable in a wider variety of situations preventing anxiety or aggression later on. The phrase “a tired pup is a happy pup” is true – keep your pup happy and tired with lots of socialization!
3. Expose your pup to the amazing world around them! This is the time when their brains create a photo album of memories and associations. The more photos and positive experiences you can put into that album, the better. Expose your pup to other dogs, children, and domestic animals. You should also handle your pup in different ways and let them play with a variety of toys. Let your pup learn about different places, sounds, and adventures and try and make it a paw-sitive experience wherever they go.
4. Train your puppy to associate you with treats! Humans rely on sight to make sense of their surroundings, but our dogs’ use their adorable noses! Dogs can smell 20-times better than humans, and so they rely heavily on it to make sense of their environment. That's why rewarding dogs with strongly scented treats while training works so well!
This is why they’re essential for the right technique for beginning leash training and recall response with your puppy.
5. Start leash training and recall training early. You can start leash-training your puppy as young as 2 months old. To get your puppy to form positive response to the leash and harness or collar, begin by showing your pup the leash and collar, then rewarding him with a tasty treat. After a few days of this, beginning putting the collar and leash on him and providing a treat and positive praise. Eventually, you can take a few steps away and call your puppy’s name. When he comes to receive the treat, let him have it and praise him. As he gets older, he is less likely to pull if training begins young. If he does pull, stop him from walking, call his name, and wait for him to come to you. Treat him, then begin walking again.
6. Get them used to you touching their paws. Aren’t your pup’s paws cute? We recommend you spend some time playing with those petite toes and massaging their paws. This may sound funny, but this is essential if you have young children in the house. Dogs can be very sensitive about their paws if they’re not used to being handled. This will also come in handy when it’s time to clip their nails!
7. Take your puppy on car rides. Dogs, like children, might go through a stage of motion sickness the first few times they ride in the car, but starting them early minimizes the possibility of them developing a fear car rides later on in life. Your pup will also be happy to have the whole pack packed into the car together and take in all the new smells!
8. Never leave your puppy in a vehicle unattended. Within 30 minutes, 20-degrees Celsius outside can turn into 40-degrees. When it's that warm outside, the temperature inside the car could reach upwards of 78-degrees Celsius! As the temperature rises, dogs will try to cool off by panting, and their anxiety level will likely also rise due to their discomfort. After all, imagine wearing a furry coat in a small, 78-degree room, not knowing where your family is.
Let's just say, if you leave your dog in the car and someone breaks your window, please thank them! While hotdogs may be tasty, hot dogs can be fatal.
9. Reduce biting and nibbles through pup-like play and responses. Puppies have surprisingly sharp teeth! To discourage your puppy’s biting and nipping habit during play, you need to think and play like one of his siblings. If your puppy gets too rough, you should respond with a high-pitched cry and stop playing. This is no fun for your puppy, which conditions him to play more gently. If your puppy is teething, provide plenty of chew toys to encourage appropriate chewing.
10. Crate training reduces headaches. Make your puppy’s crate a fun, safe place. Doug recommends getting a plastic crate instead of a wire one and putting a nice blanket or pillow on the bottom of the crate. Tie the door open so they can freely go in and out without the fear of being locked up. Remember, a crate is not a prison, and you shouldn’t punish your puppy by locking him in there. A crate is meant to mimic a den where your dog can relax with a little puppy privacy.
To begin, put your puppy's food in the crate and let them eat in there. Throw in treats and toys and encourage them to retrieve them. Eventually, your dog will go into their crate and take a nap. Making their crate a safe relaxing zone will really help alleviate any additional stress if you need to travel with your pet!
11. Make sure your puppy has fun in the sun and access to drinking water. Your puppy needs fresh air and some vitamin D. However, unlike humans, dogs do not make vitamin D in their skin. When UVB rays strike their fur and activate oils to produce vitamin D.
Keep in mind with the excitement of the new world around them, sometimes puppies don't know when it's time to take a break. It's important to keep an eye on your pup and ensure they are getting some fun in the sun with regular water breaks.
12. Obedience train your dog at 6 months. Young puppies have short attention spans, but you can expect them to begin to learn simple obedience commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay.” After 6 months, your puppy can absorb more information and start to understand the importance of basic manners. Whether it’s on your own, or with a professional trainer, understanding your pup's body language is a huge part of connecting and training your new family member.
13. Routine, routine, routine: Create and stick to a potty and feeding routine! Dog thrive when they have a schedule to follow. This can reduce separation anxiety and unwanted behaviours. That’s why we saved the best for last. Experienced dog owners know that this may be the most relatable and important tip, yet.
Accidents are bound to happen, but creating a routine that your puppy can get used to will greatly minimize accidents in the house. The hard part is sticking to it, so make sure to work out a plan that your whole family can get on board with.
14. Feed your puppy 3 - 4x per day Did you know your puppy grows while he or she is asleep? Your puppy will grow fast over the next few months. So make sure she or she gets lots of nutrients! Vets recommend keeping a consistent schedule (this will help with potty training, see tip 13) and feeding your puppy up to 4 times a day until they reach 5 months old. After that, switch over to a breakfast and dinner routine.
Pro tip from Doug: raising puppies on a raw food diet sets them up for success mentally and physically.
Bonus tip from Doug: I highly recommend reading the book: Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst
The most important things to remember when bringing home your new best friend is to enjoy the moments when your pup is small and learning. At times it may be tough, but your love for your new puppy will be returned with licks and loyalty, and unforgettable memories. And of course, these outweigh a few accidents here and there and those surprising puppy nibbles!
P.S. Always contact your vet for any questions or concerns regarding your animals. Their opinion matters most!