New Puppy! Now What?

Man with long hair in blue shirt holding sleeping puppy on beach

Building a Healthy Relationship from Day One

Bringing a puppy home is an exciting time where we want nothing more than to show our new companion they are loved. 

During this time, it is essential to understand that loving your dog doesn’t just mean giving them affection. It also means creating a foundation of trust and respect that leads to a lifetime of making memories with a stable, confident, and well-behaved canine. There are many choices to make when working with your puppy, and some important mistakes to avoid. Here are a few tips to start your experience on the right track.

The Top Three Tips to Raising Your Puppy Right

1. Tethering and Freedom Through Structure

Short-coated black dog laying on pavement hooked to leash with collar and gold dog tagTo begin, as tempting as it is to set your puppy loose in your home so they can explore and have fun on their own, you should instead keep them tethered to you for the first several weeks. 

Keeping your puppy tethered to you makes you aware of what your puppy is doing at all times. It will help you structure a routine as you control playtime, feeding, and potty breaks. Tethering your puppy to you, and crating when you cannot have your puppy beside you, prevents your puppy from unwanted behaviors such as chewing or having accidents. 

Puppies don’t know that some behaviors are bad for them. Without your input, they will simply do what they think will fulfill their needs and wants, which can get them into trouble now and develop bad habits over time. When you keep them tethered or crated, you prevent them from having the opportunity to make bad decisions, and put yourself in the position to let them know when they do something right, making it more likely for them to choose to make the right decisions in the future.

2. Your Puppy’s World…
Revolves Around You 

Tethering not only helps with establishing structure and rules for your puppy; it helps your puppy see you as the center of their world. Everything important, fun, vital to their life and happiness should come from you. This begins the process of building a bond with your puppy, one that will overcome any obstacle you or your puppy come across in your life together. 

long haired dachshund weiner dog puppy on red leash and red harness walking looking up at dog walker dog ownerYou not only become the source of all things good in your puppy’s world. You also become the source of all order in it as well. Without you, your puppy is left with the burden of responsibility in navigating the world. They must choose how to respond to different worldly situations, and sometimes the consequences of those choices are dangerous. When you can show your puppy what the right choices are, they can truly live free of stress and worry. And when new situations arise, your dog will look to you to know what it right instead of acting on instinctive impulse, which can mean behaviors that are dangerous to your pup and those around them. 

(Not the Other Way Around)

Take responsibility for showing your puppy how to behave now so you can be trusted and your choices respected by your puppy as they grow. When you give in to your puppy’s demands for attention, when you give your dog what it demands on a regular basis, you set yourself up to be a pushover in the eyes of your puppy. And no animal, dog or human, will fully trust or respect a pushover’s decision or recommendation when things get serious. If you don’t set yourself to be a responsible, trustworthy leader now, you’ll have more work to do in the future to earn that trust and respect from your dog later.

3. Building Confidence in Your Puppy

We all want to set our dogs up for success and happiness. One of the best ways to do this knowing what to do when your puppy inevitably goes through a fear stage. It is rare that a puppy does not go through some kind of fear stage before they turn one year old. During this time, your puppy will display nervousness and even fear toward new experiences and objects. They may even do so toward things they have experienced before. 

white puppy prancing down sidewalk in front of red flowers

Be Your Puppy’s Leader

So how do you help your puppy through this? The key is to lead. Too many owners make the unfortunate mistake of coddling their puppy when they show fear. They will pet the dog and tell them things will be okay. Instead, it’s best to help your puppy through uncomfortable situations by leading them through it. Don’t let their fear hold them back. If you hesitate, they will hesitate. Be confident in yourself to help them through, and reward them for taking the small steps. Soon they build the confidence and excitement to take bigger ones. 

Remember, challenging a puppy to something they don’t want to do can come with some resistance. Your puppy will be a little confused and even a little scared. Trust yourself and help your puppy trust you in the process. You can start with a lure to distract your puppy from what it is scared of. As your puppy focuses on the prize, challenge them to overcome that fear to earn the reward. But always work through it. Get a little bit of success before you take a break. Don’t give up just because your puppy resists, you will teach your puppy that resistance gets it what it wants. You can’t be your puppy’s leader if you give in and therefore validate your puppy’s fear. 

Where Do You Start?

Raising a puppy is both exciting and complex; you may find it more challenging than you anticipated. Reach out to a trainer sooner rather than later if you are struggling with training. Puppies are no different than humans. They all learn in different ways. An experienced trainer is going to be able to tell you what the right approach is for your puppy’s personality. Patience, persistence, consistency, calmness, and proper timing of rewards are key throughout your entire training process; how to apply all these things properly is where a good trainer comes in. 

If you would like help with starting your puppy off on the right path, schedule a call with me and we’ll design a successful strategy for you and your puppy.

Virginia Houser

Virginia Houser

Virginia has been working with dogs for over 15 years. Her greatest passion is training dogs to be the perfect companion for their owners.

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