The Ultimate Puppy care guide you’ll ever need (0-12months)

Time to read 25 minutes

Puppies can make incredibly good pets, but they have very specific needs. Before buying a puppy, you need to be sure you have the space, time, and money required to raise a happy, healthy dog.

Puppies can live up to 15 years or more‚ that is a huge commitment. You need to make sure you are willing and able to pay for veterinary bills, food, toys, and enrichment throughout your dog’s lifetime. Think about whether you’d like to buy a pedigree puppy from a trusted breeder or rehome a rescue dog.

Before buying a puppy

You’ve decided it’s the right time to get a new puppy, but there are lots of factors to consider before you bring your new bundle of fluff home.

Which breed will suit me?

First of all, you will need to decide which dog breed would be best suited to your household and lifestyle. 

Do you love being outdoors? If you’re very active, consider a breed with plenty of energy. 

Do you like to have some alone time? If so, a dog who follows your every move might not be the best choice. 

Make a list of your characteristics and those of other people in your household, and you should get an idea of the sort of dog you could live with. 

Also, consider the size of your house and garden, the age of any children you live with, regular visitors to your home, other pets in the household, and work commitments.

Pedigree pups can be expensive and may not be available immediately. In addition, some pedigree dogs are prone to health problems, and it’s crucial to find out as much as you can about this before you buy one. Some people prefer to go for cross-breeds—a cross-breed results from an accidental mating between different pedigrees or the deliberate mating of two breeds. 

A mongrel is often the accidental or deliberate result of two non-pedigree dogs mating. Mongrels can be a unique, hardy, and adorable breed, but there are no guarantees about how they will turn out.

Finding a puppy

Read up on suitable breeds that have taken your interest and find out what they were initially bred for. 

Check whether any of your favorite breeds are prone to any health issues. Once you’ve drawn up a final list, speak to breed owners and contact breed clubs to assess their suitability further. 

You could also visit the Kennel Club’s Discover Dogs show every November at London’s Earls Court. Hundreds of breeds are exhibited at the event, allowing you to see your chosen breeds for yourself. 

Taking the time to select the right breed for your situation, choosing the right pup, and being well-prepared means less chance of nasty surprises when the big day arrives.

Essential equipment: What Equipments do I need for my puppy?

Make sure you’re ready for your new housemate with this checklist of essential puppy items.

  • Bed — until your pup is past the chewing phase, it may be best to go for a rigid, plastic bed. Bear in mind that he will grow quickly, so buy one that allows for this.
  • Food — there’s a massive variety of both dry and wet food on the market. Remember to start feeding your pup what his breeder recommended and gradually introduce any changes to your puppy’s diet.
  • Bedding — an old blanket will make his bed more comfortable. You could also invest in fleecy bedding that is warm, washable, and hardwearing.
  • Treats — get a variety of treats such as small, tasty training treats and chewables that will help your pup through the chewing phase.
  • Toys — go for a variety, including toys that will enable your pup to interact with you.
  • Crate — can be an ideal way to keep your youngster safe and secure when you’re not around to supervise. Don’t leave your puppy in there for long periods.
  • Stairgate — this can be useful for restricting where your pup can go around the house. Also, an ideal way to keep cats and dogs separate in the introducing stage.
  • Collar and lead — a soft, flexible, and inexpensive webbing collar are best to start with for young pups.
  • Identity disc — a legal requirement for a dog to wear a collar with an ID stating his owner’s name and address.
  • Enzyme-based stain and odor removers — helpful in cleaning up toileting accidents.
  • Travel crate/harness.
  • Other things you will need to think about include: vaccinations, insurance, training classes, worming and flea treatments, microchipping, and neutering.

Choosing a puppy

When you’ve decided on the right breed, the next step is finding and choosing the perfect pup.

How do I find a good breeder?

Make sure you do lots of research when it comes to finding a breeder. Although there are many reputable breeders, there are also some unscrupulous ones, so it’s important to bear certain things in mind on your puppy search. 

Ask friends, family, or other owners if they can recommend a good breeder of your chosen dog breed. 

Alternatively, call the relevant breed societies and ask them to recommend a breeder in your area.

Take care when looking on the internet — watch out for stock images of pups instead of real litter, and note whether a website refers to the showing successes of the parents. 

Local newspaper adverts should also be approached with caution. Be wary if the kennel offers several different breeds — most good breeders specialize in and are passionate about one breed alone.

The Kennel Club only advertises pups from breeders who have voluntarily signed up to an agreed set of standards. This is designed to ensure that quality, healthy puppies are bred.

Breeder checklist

Always visit a breeder and make sure you see where the pups are being brought up. Keep this checklist in mind when visiting a breeder:

  • Puppies should be alert, outgoing, and shining with health.
  • The pups’ mother should always be available for you to see, and, if possible, the father too.
  • The pups’ environment should be clean and comfortable.
  • The pups should receive regular fuss and attention to be confident with different people and in other settings.
  • The breeder should question you about your circumstances and the reasons you want a dog.
  • The price shouldn’t seem cheap — raising a puppy properly costs money.
  • Good breeders are unlikely to have more than a couple of different breeds or several litters at any one time.
  • The breeder should be more than happy to answer your questions and advise you about the breed.
  • All documentation should be available, including registration papers and any relevant health certificates relating to the parents.
  • The breeder should offer aftercare for the pups and insist on them being returned if they can’t be kept for whatever reason.
  • If you visit a breeder and feel that the dogs are not for you, stand firm and walk away for any reason.

Questions to ask a breeder

Prepare a list of questions to ask before you make the journey. Plenty more questions will also likely occur to you while you are chatting to the breeder. Make sure you cover the following points:

  • When were the puppies born?
  • How old is the mother?
  • How many litters, if any, has she had previously?
  • How often is she bred from? The mother should not have spent her life in the pup. She should have had regular breaks from breeding.
  • How long has the breeder been breeding dogs, why, and the reason for this litter?
  • Can I see the parents? You may not see the sire, but a photo will probably be available.
  • Have both parents been screened for hereditary diseases? This is vital in many pedigree breeds.
  • What are the puppies’ temperaments like?
  • Are the pups used to other people and pets?
  • Have the puppies been wormed? 
  • Are they vaccinated?
  • Are they microchipped? 
  • Are they insured?
  • Can I see all relevant documentation, including worming, screening, pedigrees, and registration papers? Check that the name matches that of the breeder.
  • Are there any dogs from previous litters that I can see to understand how they turn out?
  • Will there be any support and advice from the breeder if I have any problems? Will the breeder take the dog back if I am unable to keep him for any reason? What type of written guarantee and contract is provided? Most breeders will take a puppy back should a health problem be detected within the first 24 hours of ownership.

Adopting a rescue dog

Although you can find pedigree dogs at animal rescue shelters, the majority tend to cross-breed. Puppies tend to come up for adoption less frequently, so your rescue puppy maybe a little older. 

This has an advantage in that by the time a cross-breed is several months old, you will have some idea of his adult looks and size.

Young pedigree dogs and puppies are often handed in through no fault of their own. 

Their owners may not have researched the breed consequently and adequately found themselves unable to cope, or a change in personal circumstances may have made it impossible to keep them.

It may be possible to find out about their pedigree, but with others, you may know nothing about their background — and some inherited conditions might not become apparent until a dog is older. However, if a dog appears healthy with no apparent problems, it’s often a gamble worth taking. 

Rescue organizations will offer ongoing support and advice should you have any problems with the dog. They may visit you occasionally to check you are still happy with the dog, that your training is progressing, and you can meet the dog’s needs.

About the puppy

In the first year of his life, a puppy grows to about 50 times his birth weight and grows from a blind, deaf, wriggly dog to a well-coordinated, muscular dog. Massive changes occur in the heart and circulatory system, bones, brain, and digestive organs.

From birth to the first week

After birth, the pup’s entire cycle must change as he becomes a self-sufficient individual, obtaining nourishment from food and air rather than his mother through the placenta. The pup begins to eat, using the heat sensors in his nose as well as his sense of smell and taste to guide him to his mother’s teat.

By two weeks

At two weeks old, the puppy’s ears and eyes begin to function. Although he can barely see at this stage, he can distinguish between light and shadow. 

His hearing is initially poor, but along with his vision, he develops rapidly over the next three weeks or so. His senses of smell and taste also develop quickly. 

At two weeks of age, the puppy begins to stand up; at three weeks; he can walk; at about five weeks, he may begin to run, but his balance and coordination are still poor.

Three to Four Weeks

When he is about three to four weeks old, your puppy will begin to move his tail to show pleasure. 

This ability develops along with his other functions until the puppy is 12 weeks old, by which time he should be able to move with all gaits like an adult and see and hear. 

The puppy’s milk teeth begin to erupt at about three to five weeks, and at six weeks, the puppy should be able to handle a semi-solid to a solid diet. As the puppy becomes more robust and more agile, his bones harden. His joints become stable, his muscles develop, and his nervous system becomes more refined.

By six weeks

Bite inhibition occurs at about six weeks as children learn not to bite each other or their mothers during the drama. 

Puppies rarely show fear at this age; instead, they have a strong drive to explore and enjoy new experiences and learn a lot about their surroundings. They are also able to begin to learn commands and enjoy playing with their humans. 

Rapid bone growth occurs in the growth plates, which are usually located at the ends of each bone. 

The puppy should now be fully weaned and eating approximately four small, soft meals per day. You should nutritionally balance his diet to meet his growth and activity needs.

By 12 weeks

A puppy learns to fend for himself in his new home, away from his mother. At this age, puppies will benefit from getting used to traveling and a variety of environments. 

Puppies are more likely to learn by 12 weeks of age, so they should be exposed to as many different experiences as possible. 

They are also at the perfect age to learn how to behave in their new home and can begin to receive house training and learn commands.

A puppy’s brain and nervous system matures rapidly and has an adult dog’s vision, hearing, and coordination. 

As his strength and coordination improve, he learns to run faster and jump. At the fastest growth stage, puppies need a properly balanced diet to promote this. Excessive exercise during this stage can lead to joint problems.

From 12 weeks to six months

Puppies are developing confidence and personality as individuals and approaching the more difficult stage of adolescence. After about 14 weeks, puppies have a more challenging time dealing with new situations, but they can still learn and gain experience in different situations. Because the bladder and intestines and the nerves that supply these areas mature, puppies are now more likely to avoid house training accidents. You should still avoid Over-exercise and obesity because although strength and muscle bulk is developing, joints and bones are still fragile.

Up to a year

By six months of age, puppies weigh about 60% of their adult weight and about 90% of their adult weight at one year of age. The most rapid growth phase is now over, and pups will fill out rather than grow taller. 

Most skeletal growth plates close between six months and a year, so pups are at less risk of injury as their bones and joints mature and strengthen. However, problems with bone and joint disease may arise during this stage.

After one year

Your puppy is a full-grown adult, although his social skills will continue to develop for some time. He should now be nearing his adult weight and eating an adult diet, but you should continue to monitor his weight.

Common puppy problems

Here are answers to some of the most common puppy problems.

Q How often should I feed my puppy?

Puppies are fed little and often to accommodate their speedy growth and high nutritional requirements. By ten to 12 weeks, you can reduce the number of meals to three. Puppies should stay on this routine until they are around five to six months when they can drop down to two meals a day until reaching adult body weight (this would typically be at any time from nine months to two years, depending on the breed).

Q Can I leave my puppy home alone?

Puppies can learn to spend time alone, but in the first few days before the puppy has settled into his new home, sudden isolation can cause distress. Ideally, spend a few days at home with your puppy, allowing him to become familiar with his new surroundings and to relax. Then, gradually build up the time he spends alone, from a few minutes up to more extended periods. Asking a family member or friend to pop in can help you get through the early stage of house training. As your pup grows over the next few months, he will learn quickly to hold on for two hours and will feel more secure in your home.

To create the safest environment for your pup, identify a puppy-proofed area where he can be left. You could use a large puppy crate. He will need to get used to this space with familiar blankets and toys placed inside it. Feeding him inside the crate will also add to its attractiveness. At first, put him inside the crate when he is very sleepy so that he snuggles down without a fuss. Shutting him inside and leaving him would be a mistake as he would then associate this space with isolation. Plug in an Adaptil pheromone diffuser near where he will rest as this will help make him feel relaxed and panic-free.

Q Why does my male puppy try to mount me?

Maturing males are strongly driven by their hormones, but there can be other reasons for mounting behaviors. It’s commonly observed in excitable puppies; they may mount during play, as a response to tension, or because they have learned that it brings them great attention. It might only take one or two trials for the puppy to learn that mounting is a game worth repeating. The good news is that the mounting habit should reduce as long as the puppy is adequately exercised and mentally stimulated each day and isn’t given attention for this behavior. When he is of an appropriate age, neutering will help deal with any remaining hormonally driven behavior, although this usually settles down naturally as the dog matures.

Q My puppy chews everything.

Chewing is normal puppy behavior. If your puppy had remained in the litter to his current age, he would have learned what is called bite inhibition. This is the ability to use his mouth so that his teeth do not cause pain. 

If a puppy hurts another pup, there will be an immediate loud squeal, and the dog backs off. Play may cease for a short recovery period before starting again, with the offending participant taking greater care.

In the absence of another dog, you need to clarify that teeth touching the skin is a no-no. This is best started as soon as the puppy arrives, with you continuing the teaching from littermates and mother. At this stage, the loud squeal still works effectively. 

By 12 to 14 weeks, the pup has progressed to a stage of social development where the squeal merely encourages him to see if he can get you to make even more noises and jump about in pain. 

When playing with the pup, all interaction stops as soon as teeth touch skin and you freeze. Ignore the puppy until he calms down. 

This may mean that he is picked up calmly and put in a place of safety, such as in the garden, behind a baby gate, or in an indoor kennel until he is quieter. 

Alternatively, he may simply be given a bone, toy, or something legitimate to chew to distract him for a short time.

Q My pup knows where he should toilet but still wees in the house.

House-training takes a little time and effort on your part. He needs to learn the simple rule — doesn’t do it in here, do it out there! He needs to go outside accompanied by you and then be rewarded for relieving himself on the spot as soon as he has finished. 

Take him out immediately on waking, after eating and vigorous play, last thing at night, or at any other time when he breaks off from what he is doing and starts sniffing. 

These are all times when he is likely to need to relieve himself. After a short time, you will notice him moving towards the door, so be ready to let him outside when he does so. 

As with all behavior you want to teach your pup, this is best taught by rewarding what you want and ignoring what you don’t want.

Bringing your puppy home

With all the excitement of your puppy’s imminent arrival, don’t forget to prepare for his homecoming.

Puppy-proof your home and garden

Puppies are curious little characters, and your home will open up a whole new world for them to explore. New owners need to be aware of potentially dangerous corners around the home and ensure their house has been puppy-proofed. Among other things, watch out for:

  • Clothing and equipment items are left lying around on the floor.
  • Waste bins at puppy level — these can prove irresistible, especially if they have something smelly inside.
  • Open cupboards — fix child safety locks if your pup’s persistent. Also, watch out for available kitchen appliances such as dishwashers or oven doors.
  • Food left on worktops and pans left on the hob. Larger breed pups, and some agile smaller breeds, can easily be tempted to jump up.
  • In the garden, check your boundaries are secure and fence off ponds. Get down low and look at each room from a puppy’s perspective.
  • Enclose trailing wires, put fireguards in place, move breakable items out of reach, and put house plants up on high shelves.
  • Invest in an unpleasant-tasting anti-chew spray if you think your new puppy might gnaw your furniture.

Create a safe haven

Using a puppy pen or den will have somewhere you know it is always completely safe for your pup. Invest in a crate and make it comfortable with his bedding. 

Introduce him to it by feeding him in there with the door open. Play with him, throwing toys or titbits into the crate for him to find. Only close the door for short periods at first while you are there.

Settling in your new puppy

Your new puppy will likely feel homesick when he first arrives; help make the transition easier by leaving an old T-shirt you have worn with the breeder on your last visit before collection. 

This place in the litter’s bed will make your scent familiar to the pup, and he can absorb the scent of his new family. When the big day arrives, and you finally bring him home, collect the T-shirt and put it in his travel basket and then in his bed or den.

 It will comfort him as he adapts to his new surroundings.

Try to collect your pup early on so that he has the whole day to get used to his surroundings before settling for the night. 

To begin with, place his bed next to your bed at night; as he settles in, you can gradually move it away from your bed and closer to the area where you want it to be. Take time off work if possible to help him settle in, and so he’s not left alone for at least a few days.

Once your pup has settled in, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your vet to get him checked over. You can discuss flea and worming options and arrange for his next vaccination to be carried out.

Children and dogs

Before your puppy arrives, discuss with the whole family any rules which will affect the new dog. Will he be allowed on the furniture? Which rooms will he have access to? This will ensure training is consistent and does not confuse the new puppy. 

Talk to children about taking responsibility for their belongings and not leaving toys where the puppy could get them. 

They also need to understand that the new puppy needs quality time on his own. You should always supervise young children when they are with the puppy. Younger children may fail to recognize warning signs or be unable to interpret situations correctly.

It is unrealistic to expect a child to take sole responsibility for a dog, but it’s good for them and the new pup to be involved in the day-to-day care of a pet. 

If your child has friends over, supervise your puppy with them for a few minutes and then put him away. Some dogs can become quite protective of their children and misinterpret play fighting.

Meeting other pets

If you have a cat, when you first introduce it to your pup, keep him on a lead if he decides to chase the cat. Once you are happy things are going well, you can take him off the information but continue to supervise closely. 

This may take a few days or even weeks. Try not to intervene in the animals’ interactions — your cat will not want to be picked up and held face to face with your puppy. 

Only intervene if the puppy shows too much interest or stalk the cat; you need to let the puppy know that this behavior will not be tolerated.

An older dog will have to get to know the puppy and then accept him into the family with existing dogs. This can be started on neutral ground, at a friend’s house, or even in the local park. 

Try to keep meetings low-key with no exciting food and toys involved. You need to supervise the meeting and yet allow dog and pup to get to know each other. 

Remember to praise both for positive behavior, but don’t let meetings get boisterous. 

Keep initial meetings short, taking the older dog for a walk on his own while your puppy gets to know his new home. Mealtimes will need to be supervised for some time. 

Your older dog is unlikely to want a puppy sniffing around his bowl, so You should feed them separately.

Is your puppy healthy?

Make your weekly grooming session and check-over systematic but fun. This way, you and your pup can enjoy the contact while you keep in touch with his state of health. Be gentle and careful, and don’t forget that if your pet is in pain, he may behave unpredictably. If you aren’t confident about any aspects of the weekly check-over, ask your vet to show you what to do.

  • Eyes and ears should be bright, shiny, and reflect light; discharge, a bloodshot or dull appearance, or swollen eyelids can all indicate problems. Similarly, the ears should be clean and lined with normal skin. A smelly discharge or thickened, reddened skin are signs of disease.
  • A dog’s nose should be rubbery and smoothish rather than dry, cracked, or lumpy.
  • Body — get used to how your pup’s skin feels over his ribs and other bones and how the underlying tissues feel beneath. Check that his skin appears supple and healthy, not reddened or scurfy, and that his hair is thick and shiny.
  • Locate the glands next to the corner of your puppy’s jaw to check they are not swollen.
  • Feel down your pet’s neck and back, across his chest, around his stomach, and down each limb. Feel for lumps and make sure that the tissues under your fingers aren’t painful.
  • Check that his limbs are mobile and comfortable and that he is happy for you to manipulate them gently. Any swellings — particularly those that aren’t the same on both sides of the body — may be significant and stiff joints or pain associated with moving them can also indicate problems.
  • Have a look at your puppy’s paws and check the nails aren’t too long. Check between his toes.
  • Feel the base of his tail and have a look underneath for lumps near his bottom or genitals.
  • Teeth and gums — puppy teeth should be clean with healthy-looking gums. Your puppy will lose his milk teeth at around four months of age, and at this time, the gums may become sore, and he may not enjoy you touching them. You still need to inspect his adult teeth once they have erupted. Brownish tartar on teeth can indicate an infection. There should be no redness, bleeding, or discharge from the gums. While examining the mouth, it is good to clean teeth to help prevent dental problems; use a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste available from your vet or pet retailers.

Get your pup checked out.

It’s essential to seek your vet’s advice if your pup displays any of the following symptoms:

  • He is lethargic, withdrawn, and unresponsive.
  • He isn’t eating.
  • He has diarrhea or struggles to pass stools.
  • He has pale-looking gums or mucus membranes.
  • He has a bulging, taut stomach.
  • He has discharge from his ears, eyes, or nose.
  • He is lame.
  • He is scratching excessively or has bald or sore patches.
  • He is wheezing or coughing.

Caring for your puppy

Category: Puppy care

One of the first outings your new puppy needs to make is to your chosen veterinary practice. This will allow you to discuss his ongoing healthcare needs and get him checked over. 

You’ll also be allowed to discuss vaccinations, parasite protection, microchipping, and neutering.

You should take your new pup to the vet for a health check within 24 to 48 hours of bringing him home. 

If your first visit isn’t for injections or another unpleasant experience, it will allow your puppy to become positively acquainted with the vet. After your pup has been examined, you can make a further appointment to begin or complete his course of vaccinations or to receive any other necessary treatments.

What vaccinations will my puppy need?

Puppies need a primary course of two vaccinations, which will give cover against the following

  • distemper, 
  • parvovirus, 
  • hepatitis, 
  • leptospirosis. 

The above are known as core vaccines due to the highly infectious rate of the diseases they protect against and their potential to prove fatal should a dog contract them.

Your puppy may have already received his first vaccination while with the breeder; ask about this when you pick him up and make sure you receive his vaccination certificate if this is the case. 

Even after his first vaccination, your puppy will still be vulnerable to disease and shouldn’t meet dogs whose vaccination status is unknown or visit places where unvaccinated dogs may have been.

Puppies will receive their second vaccination at around 10 to 12 weeks. It will not fully protect your pup until around two weeks after this second jab.

Worming your puppy

The breeder should have wormed your puppy to kill any parasites passed to him in his mother’s milk. Worming him once a month until he reaches the age of six months, and after that, every three months will protect him when he comes into contact with other dogs.

The most common parasitic worms in dogs are roundworms and tapeworms. Puppies infected with roundworm look sickly and have a potbelly. 

The roundworms are sometimes vomited and resemble pale curled elastic bands. The eggs of tapeworms resemble grains of rice; if your puppy is infected, they may be visible around the anus. 

The tapeworm attaches itself to the wall of the puppy’s intestine, and the eggs are excreted in feces. Ask your vet for more information on the treatment and prevention of worms and products suitable for puppy use.

Fleas and tick prevention

Safeguarding your puppy and home against fleas and ticks will help to protect against disease. 

Apart from causing your puppy to scratch, possibly triggering an allergic skin reaction, fleas are integral to the lifecycle of tapeworms, so flea treatment should form part of your regular worming plan. 

Several fleas and tick treatments are available, and some can be used as a preventative method. The most effective preparations are usually available from your vet, who will also advise on the suitability of puppies.

Microchipping your puppy

It’s a simple procedure that a vet or trained nurse carries out. A tiny chip, the size of a single grain of rice, is inserted into the loose skin between your dog’s shoulder blades. 

The insertion of the chip is akin to having an injection, although the needle is slightly larger than that used for vaccinations. 

Each microchip contains a unique number that a special scanner can read, and the information about the dog’s owner is stored on a database. Keep contact details up to date and ask your vet to check the microchip is still in place at your dog’s annual check-up.

Feeding your puppy

Any sudden dietary changes could give a puppy an upset stomach. To avoid this, make sure you feed him the same food the breeder was using for the first week or two. 

If you later decide to try another food, introduce it very gradually. Age-specific dog foods are readily available, so choose a puppy food that has been designed to meet your pup’s nutritional needs. 

These are available as either wet or dry formulations. Puppies generally remain on puppy food for ten months to a year before adult dog food.

Puppies can be very greedy, and some will eat just about anything. Ask family members not to feed them titbits — not only does this encourage begging, but it also adds extra calories and may cause an upset stomach.

Puppy socialization & training

From the moment you bring your pup home, you need to set the standard for future behavior.

Socializing your puppy

Your puppy’s socialization should have already begun before he came to you, and this should continue. Socialization is vital; it means getting him used to as many different sights, sounds, people, animals, and places as possible. 

With young pups who haven’t had all their vaccinations, you can still acclimate them too much of this while carrying them. When implementing socialization plans, it’s not just a case of showing the puppy an item and then moving on. 

You need to make sure he’s accepted that it’s a commonplace and not something to be fearful of. Start by introducing simple household items; your puppy should hopefully be familiar with these already, so you are just reinforcing what he’s already learned.

The vacuum cleaner is an excellent item to start with, as you can leave it around for the puppy to explore before it’s even switched on. Sit quietly with the puppy and get someone else to switch the vacuum cleaner on in the next room. 

Your puppy may look to you for a response to see how you react, so if you ignore the vacuum cleaner is switched on, he’s more likely to ignore it too. Distract him with a treat or a toy. 

Depending on the pup’s reactions, you can gradually bring the vacuum cleaner into the room with the puppy. Take note of your puppy’s response — any sign of nervousness and the vacuum should be taken further away but not switched off until he’s confident again.

Keep the sessions short — a couple of minutes is sufficient — before turning the cleaner off and rewarding the puppy with a game. Puppies learn by having fun, so make sure the game is upbeat — if you pet him nervously, he’ll assume there is something out of the ordinary to take note of. The whole idea is to get the puppy used to the item and accept it as the norm. Repeat this process with other household items and visits to places.

Puppy socialization classes can be helpful; make sure you do your research and pick one where the number of dogs is limited and introductions carefully controlled. Many veterinary surgeries run puppy socialization classes so ask your vet about this. It’s worth visiting a class without your pup to decide whether it’s suitable.

House-training your puppy

House-training is one of the first things you should begin teaching your new pup. Young puppies should ideally go out to the toilet every hour at first. As soon as he starts to go, say your chosen prompt word and reward him. Make sure you take him out first thing in the morning, after feeding, playtimes, and other stimulating situations where he’s likely to get excited, every time he wakes, and last thing at night. Before he arrives home, you could mark an area of the garden where you want your pup to the toilet. Never punish your dog if he toilets inside the house.

Training your puppy

Once all his vaccinations are complete, you can enroll your pup in a puppy training class. Remember to go with a trainer who uses reward-based training methods. You can find one in your area on the recommendation of friends, relatives, or other owners or by visiting the Your Dog website. You can practice many things at home, including basic commands such as sit, down, and wait, teaching him his name, and how to walk on a lead. Click here to see more dog training articles.

It’s easy to train a puppy once you know how but it does take practice to perfect responses. 

A young puppy has a short attention span and gets tired easily, so lessons should be short and sweet. Aim for three-minute sessions and always end on a good response, going back to something your puppy has previously learned if necessary to ensure you finish on a positive note. This will encourage both of you to look forward to the next session. Try to fit in many of these short sessions during a day, doing a little bit here and there, rather than trying to squeeze all learning exercises into one long, exhausting lesson.

Place reward pots with treats and toys on shelves around the house so you can do a little training whenever you find you have a few minutes to spare — while the kettle is boiling, for example. Make sure you use reward-based training — this is where you reward your pup consistently for desirable behaviors and ignore undesirable ones.

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