Thinking About Getting a Puppy? 10 Things You Need to Know

Do take the time to find out the best way to look after a puppy before you bring one home.

Over the past few decades, our greater understanding of how dogs learn has led to significant changes in the best way to train them. I want to give you a few pointers to get you started.

1. Biting, barking, chewing, digging and toileting in inappropriate places are all perfectly natural puppy behaviours.

Your new puppy will be only too happy to learn how to behave but they don't arrive pre-programmed! You need to teach them. So, plan to get a puppy when you'll have plenty of time to give her the attention she'll need, especially during the first few weeks.

2. Choose your puppy carefully. Read up on the breeds, ask for advice and, when you've decided what will suit your family and lifestyle, find a recommended breeder (look at the Kennel Club or breed association websites).

3. Always meet the puppy's mother so you can be sure that she's a confident, friendly dog. 

4. If possible, leave a small blanket with the breeder to put in with the puppies for a short while before you bring your puppy home. (Or the breeder may supply some of their own bedding.) When you bring the puppy home, use the blanket in his bed for the first few nights. The familiar smell will help him relax.

For all you need to prepare for your new puppy's arrival, see Before You Get Your Puppy

5. The key that unlocks the secret to dog training is to know that what gets rewarded gets repeated. For example, if you always wait for your puppy to sit before giving him food (just hold the bowl above his head, eventually he'll sit so he can look up at you and that bowl!!) he'll quickly learn to sit. Similarly, if you give your cute puppy lots of attention when he jumps up at you in welcome, guess what, all too soon you'll have a much larger, muddy grown-up dog doing the same thing.

6. The easiest way to teach your puppy to do the right thing is to limit his options for doing the wrong thing. Don't give her free run of the house initially – there are too many opportunities to make the wrong (from your point of view) choice of toilet area or chewable items.

7. Find out how to introduce your puppy to a crate which should, from the puppy's point of view, be a secure den. Used properly, it's also an invaluable training aid. For help with training from day one, see Puppy Home School

8. Never leave small children alone with a puppy and while they are together, monitor their activities closely. Your aim is for both parties to enjoy getting to know each other.

9. Puppies love to play but also need a lot of sleep (much like small children!) So, don't allow your puppy to be prodded awake every few minutes or you'll have an over-tired puppy to deal with as well as over-excited kids.

10. Visit the vet for a health check and any vaccinations needed.

Have fun with your puppy!


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