When you get a new puppy, it’s only natural to want to simply hang out with them and play and cuddle all day. Unfortunately, there are a number of things that you need to do in those first few days and weeks — both to make sure that your new pup stays healthy and to establish good behavior patterns. Rest assured that the work you put in now will pay off tenfold in the long run.
When your full-grown adult dog is balanced, well-behaved, and the envy of all your Pack Leader neighbors, you’ll be glad you took good care of her right from the beginning.
Getting Into a Routine
One of the most important things you need to do for your puppy right off the bat is to establish a routine. Though it will be difficult initially for you to decide on a routine that will work for you, your family, and your puppy, don’t wait too long to figure it out.
Here are some of the most important things to make sure you have on your puppy schedule:
Your new puppy is doing his best to become a full-grown adult dog. But in order to do so, he’s going to need to eat more frequently than an adult. Where you can feed many adult dogs twice a day — or even just once — puppies need to be fed three times a day like people. Sound like a lot of work? Well, the good news is that you can plan your pup’s meals more or less around your own. The best times to feed him are around 7 in the morning, at noon, and then again at 5. You’ll want to follow this schedule for the first 3 to 4 months of your pup’s life. Then you can switch to twice-a-day feedings unless your vet recommends continuing more frequent meals.
Establishing a routine for eating times is especially important. With a set feeding schedule, your puppy will learn when to expect food and will be less likely to beg between designated meal times.
Unless you want to have a big mess on your hands, you need to make sure you’re giving your pup “potty time” every 2-4 hours. Any longer than that and she just won’t be able to hold it. Putting a set time (and place) to this activity also teaches her that this isn’t just something she can do whenever and wherever she feels like it.
Very young puppies can’t get into any kind of formal training class right away, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be teaching him some basics every day. One thing every pup can start learning: keywords. Begin with important words like “good,” “bad,” and “no.” Keep these words simple and be consistent with which ones you use. Your dog needs to get used to hearing the same words in order to associate the same meanings with them each time.
Exercise and Play
Starting to think you’re never going to have any fun with your new puppy? Well, you can relax, because it’s also important to build time for exercise and play into your schedule. Ideally, you want to begin your pup’s day with exercise before she has her first meal. After breakfast, try a pack walk (if she’s too young to go outside, you can do this around the house) followed by some bonding or play time. You’ll repeat this general routine throughout each day. Exercise, meal, exercise, bonding, meal, and so on.
By creating a good schedule for your puppy and starting small with tasks like feeding times, potty times, teaching keywords, and exercising and playing, you will not only save yourself innumerable future headaches, you’ll also ensure that your new bundle of joy grows up to be the best that he can be.
Got a puppy? Show your pooch off by posting a photo in the comments.