new puppyAfter three years of having a dog-less house with the passing of our beloved Chocolate Lab Ruby, the Olsens are getting a new puppy. Part of me is still in denial, and part of me is apprehensive as to what we need to do to prepare for a new puppy, which is something that we had not had to do in about 13 years.  So now that the purchase is done, it is time to ready the home for our newest member, prepare the prior residents (our cats) for invasion of another four-legged friend, and purchase the supplies and equipment needed for the puppy.

Preparing the Home

We all know that puppies get into everything.  So we will need to act like a forensic detective and get down on our hands and knees to look for things that a playful puppy might foresee as fun. Items like electrical cords should be tied out of reach.  Dangerous products such as cleaning supplies and other items should be locked in a cabinet or placed out of reach.  Any valuable items or family heirlooms need to be kept out of reach so they do not become your puppies new chew toy.  Lastly, unless you want to be like Imelda Marcos and purchase a new pair of shoes each week, it is best to make sure your shoes are stored away in a closet and the door is secured.

Puppies are always looking for their next meal, so garbage can be enticing to them. In order to prevent them getting into the trash, it is wise to have trash cans that have sealed lids.

The puppy should not have free reign of the house, so you will need to have gates and barriers to keep him in his allowed space.  This will also include a kennel for his nighttime bed, which I will talk about later in the article.

No puppy will be an entirely indoor dog unless it is in a big city with little green space.  So here in Madison County, Illinois, we will want to examine the outdoor area so that there are not any chemicals or poisonous plants that will entice the inquisitive puppy.  Your new puppy may be the cutest thing that you have ever seen, but your neighbor may not have the same opinion.  And they always say that a good fence makes good neighbors.  So it may be important to make sure that you have one that doesn’t allow your pet to roam free.

Items to Have

As I eluded in the last section, in my opinion, it is best to kennel train your pet.  No, this is not seen as “doggie jail” to the pet, but as I explain to my clients, it is best to treat a kennel as it is their bedroom and their place of security.  I recommend that you get a larger one as they get larger.  It should start as one that is just big enough for them to sleep in.  If it is too large, that will allow them to urinate and defecate in the kennel and may inhibit the potty training outside.

I am not an advocate for “potty pads.”  I feel that they are just condoning bad behavior by the puppy.  The learning puppy will get confused by our laziness that more or less tells it that “they can go here but not there in the house.”  To a puppy, this thinking may be problematic.

Obviously we want food bowls as well as toys to keep it occupied when you can’t give it the attention it needs.  With the toys, I recommend that they be they type that are indestructible like “Kong toys.”  Avoid those that they can easily chew up and have the possibility of ingesting.

A new owner will want to have a collar and a leash.  When you take your pet out on walks, it will be necessary to have these to protect your pet from injury by other pets or getting ran over by a vehicle.

Grooming brushes are important to have especially with those puppies that will have long wooly coats.  They will need to be brushed frequently to prevent matting and tangling.

I am not a big proponent of treats, but they would be alright to have on hand, but I caution the owner to use them in moderation.

Bringing it Home

The big day to bring the puppy into your household is here, so what should you do?

Many people erroneously allow their new puppy to roam free and explore the house.  This is sensory overload.  Too many new places, new smells and people at once may confuse him.  Instead, let him explore a designated area, perhaps where his food and water are.  Or he can acclimate himself to a small puppy-proofed space where his kennel is. Then introduce him to the rest of the house one room at a time, skipping the areas that you want off-limits to him.

It is best to introduce your new puppy to its’ new owners one at a time.  I know that they are cute and cuddly, and everyone wants to meet him, but that can create too much excitement for the puppy and may stress the puppy out.  So it is best to let him meet each family member quietly and make it rewarding and pleasant.

As previously mentioned, puppies love to chew, so make sure that he has a safe chew toy.  If he starts to chew on anything else, redirect him to the chew toy.

It is important that your new puppy know where its’ sleeping quarters are. Puppies sleep between 15-20 hours a day, and likely they will drop in their tracks.  It is important to take him to his crate when he seems to be ready to nap and at bedtime.  Contrary to what most people think, this is not “doggie jail” as the puppy will associate this as a safe and secure place.

House training starts on day one. Your puppy needs to know exactly where you expect him to do his business. Prevent accidents by monitoring the puppy and take him outside accordingly. This helps him to learn where not to go.  Accidents happen, but don’t scold the puppy.  Clean up the accident with an enzymatic cleaner.

Teaching your new puppy basic behaviors like watch me, sit, or down are important. With positive reinforcement based training, you can encourage good manners in very young puppies.

Obedience training for your new puppy is always important.  It will teach basic manners that can lead to all kinds of fun dog activities and provide socialization with other dogs and humans.

In a few weeks, I will be reliving the excitement that our family experienced 13 years ago. Getting a new puppy can be an exciting and stressful time in any household.  It teaches our children to be responsible and committed.  So if you need advice or any tips in preparing for the new family member, please do not hesitate to contact or call the Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.