With Valentines day right around the corner we wanted to give you some tips incase you get a surprise floppy eared, bouncing bundle of joy wrapped in a bow. (Hint, hint for anyone who still needs to get a gift).
So you don’t fall victim to the following classic rookie mistakes we are here to help! We want the first days and weeks with your puppy to be full-on cheesy bliss, not some Kevin Hart comedy where everything that can go wrong does. Consider this a crystal ball to help you avoid lots of dog owner friends texting you “SMH.” Trust us, their superiority complexes get old. Now, peer into the ball...
Mistake #1: “OMG, I forgot to get _______.”
Here’s the deal: puppies require stuff and getting the right stuff ahead of time will save you time, money, and frantic group texts asking for favors at odd hours. The pre-puppy essentials are:
Collar - comfortable and appropriately sized for puppy
Leash - your old belt does not count, btw
Food and water bowls - something stainless steel and easy to clean (dirty bowls are breeding grounds for bacteria)
Bedding - resist the urge to start the puppy out in your own bed. (key here is to "start".. see here for more co-sleeping "etiquette")
Crate - for training and transportation, and, again, appropriately sized
Chew toy - something non-toxic and a good size for puppy’s mouth
Training treats - small enough to keep in your pocket for positive reinforcement right from the start
Dog shampoo - look for an all-natural option
Dog brush - ask for help to get the right type for your breed
Food - best foods should be complete and balanced (AAFCO approved), unprocessed, have limited supplementation, and use human grade ingredients. While this may be hard to find on the market today, well... just wait.
These essentials will keep you calm and prepared for puppy’s needs, but will also start things off with consistency. And the more consistent the environment, the more effective your training, and the more smug you can be to your dog owner friends.
Mistake #2: “It doesn’t really matter where he eats/sleeps/takes a dump.”
Speaking of consistency, you should plot out specific locations where your puppy will eat, sleep, and (ahem) go wee-wee and poo-poo. (And yes, you will talk in ridiculous baby talk to your puppy. No one is immune.) You want your pup to immediately associate these locations with the appropriate behavior right from the start. And when he performs that appropriate behavior, give him one of those training treats from your pocket along with some blubbery affirmative baby talk, followed by sixteen repetitions of “Who’s a good boy?”
Mistake #3: “Oops! I didn’t realize he could get into that!”
Here’s a genius idea that requires you to look foolish for a few minutes: crawl around your home and think like a curious puppy who wants to discover his new world by pawing, chewing and wriggling his way into dark spaces. This is the best way to identify potential hazards and not a bad way to end up on a viral YouTube video if your friends happen to stop by while you’re at it.
Mistake #4: “Schedule, shmedule!”
It’s true that one of your best characteristics is your laid-back temperament, but you and your puppy will both benefit from a regular schedule for eating, sleeping and walks. A puppy who needs to pee is going to pee whenever, wherever if his body isn’t used to getting a regular break outside accompanied by one of those tasty training treats. After all, wouldn’t you? In fact, you did until a bigger human gave you regular opportunities, followed by an m&m.
Mistake #5: “Stay away while I bond with my puppy!”
Sure, you want to soak up all that delicious puppy breath by yourself, but socializing your puppy from the beginning will pay off for a lifetime. This means exposing your pup to as many new people, animals and places as is comfortable. Yes, even your friend Kevin with the fake New Zealand accent and the extensive PEZ dispenser collection. You’re introducing your dog to a big, safe world with lots of interesting people, places and things. Without this socialization, your dog is likely to become suspicious, anxious, territorial and aggressive. (You know, kind of like Kevin.) Of course, you can overstimulate your pup, so watch for his cues that he’s had enough and offer some quiet time afterward.