Although we don’t recommend surprising anyone (except the kids) with a puppy at Christmas, if you’ve been researching and planning on adding a puppy to your family, Christmastime is as good a time as any as long as you’re up for potty training in the cold. Make sure you’re prepared for your new best friend’s arrival by building yourself a puppy starter kit.
Choosing a quality, nutritious food is one of the best things that you can do to set your dog up for a long healthy life. Read this article to learn how to assess what foods are quality. The rescue or breeder that you get your puppy from should be able to tell you what food they were feeding your pup and give you a small sample. Mix this sample in with your new choice of food to slowly transition your dog to a new food to lessen the chance of gastric upset.
Treats will become a valuable tool to you in the near future! Make sure to pick up some small training treats, or treats that can be broken up into small pieces and used to reward your puppy throughout the day when you catch them doing something you like (like going to the bathroom outside). Of course, feel free to pick up some super cute fancy treats as well to dole out as you please.
Of course, you’ll need bowls to feed and water your pup. Consider a place-mat to help make puppy eating messes easier to clean up. We like stainless steel bowls because they are easy to keep clean and sanitary.
Now is the time to teach your puppy that the crate is a safe, good place that is theirs alone. Their crate should be comfortable and should be in a quieter spot in your home so your dog can learn to retire to their own little “den” it if they need some time alone. Puppies often chew and destroy items as they learn about their world. Instead of leaving them unsupervised with an expensive bed, line the crate with a soft, warm blanket that you don’t mind having chewed. Try crating your pup while you’re home first to make sure they aren’t trying to shred and consume their bedding. Using a small crate before upgrading as they grow, or buying a crate with partitions to expand as they grow will help discourage elimination in the crate.
Potty training your dog will be a process, please be patient and kind! Puppies are still learning and have small bladders. As your puppy learns to go outside, their accidents will become more infrequent and many times they happen by the door. Keeping a puppy pad by the door to where your dog is learning to eliminate can help absorb messes when you can’t make it to the door in time. They will learn! Make sure to always take your dog outside after feeding, drinking, and playing. If your dog doesn’t go right away, take them out every 15 minutes until they do go. That way you can catch them in the act of going outside and give them tons of love and praise for doing a good job!
Your puppy will be learning everything about the world from you. This includes exploring their home! They won’t automatically know not to chew table legs and get into things that will be dangerous for them. Eventually, the goal may be that they will be mature enough to have run of the house, but in the meantime, use baby gates to keep them in rooms where you can supervise them. If you’re not able to keep a close eye on them, utilize the crate!
These are must haves for your puppy that you will be depending on to keep them safe. Martingale collars will ensure that your puppy can not accidentally slip out if they become started and back up, or just wiggle out as they try to play with you on a walk. Teaching your dog to loose leash walk is easiest in puppyhood. If they pull on the leash, do not reward them by letting them continue to pull and move forward. Simply stop in your tracks, get their attention back on you, reward them for this, and then move forward. Teach them that the way to move toward what they want is by walking by your side, not pulling. All pulling gets them is a break from walking.
When choosing leashes, we advise against using a retractable leash not only for safety reasons, but when you allow your dog to pull forward on the retractable leash and they get to go further, it’s rewarding them for pulling and going away from you on a walk! Have more control over your dog by using a regular leash, and a longer training leash when appropriate. Remember, your puppy will not be fully vaccinated by 8 weeks so it’s best to only take them to controlled environments where you know the dogs are vaccinated.
Lots of messes is simply part of being a puppy owner. It’s important to completely remove all traces of the mess because if the mess is not completely removed, your dog will be able to smell it (even when you can’t) and may return to the area to eliminate again. Enzymatic cleaners will completely break down the compounds and eliminate these smells. We sell Pee-Be-Gone at the Lodge. Nature’s Miracle is also a great option.
Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed, teeth clean, and coat clean and healthy will be much easier if you begin to accustom your dog to the grooming tools and processes as early as possible. You should have an appropriate brush and comb for your dogs coat. Puppy shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush, and a nail trimmer should also be on your puppy supply list. If you’re not comfortable with parts of the grooming process like nail trimming, bring your pup to the Lodge so we can get them started on being comfortable with having their nails kept neat and trimmed.
Toys are more than something fun to occupy your dog, they are a valuable training tool! Whenever you find your dog chewing on or playing with something they shouldn’t, redirect them to the toy to teach them that these behaviors are okay, they just need to select what is appropriate to chew on/play with. Many owners like to buy a variety of chew toys from antler to benebones in order to experiment and see which one their pup likes best.
Perhaps most important of all, enroll your dog in a puppy class. Not only will you gain valuable insight on how to build the strongest bond with your dog, you will learn exactly how to train your dog so that you can have the best friend that you envision. In Puppy Kindergarten at the Lodge, there is a puppy playtime that is valuable for socialization as well. Consistency is key when it comes to training so get the whole family involved!