Few things are more exciting than welcoming a new puppy into your life. All the wiggles, wet noses, and puppy kisses are a lot of fun, but puppies are also a lot of work. You’ve likely spent considerable time deciding on the puppy who is exactly right for your family; now it’s important to think about how to set your puppy up for success once you bring them home. You can count on three things: unbridled joy, cleaning up your puppy’s accidents, and a major life change. 

Here are some tips from our team at Airway Animal Hospital to help make the adjustment easier for everyone and to set your puppy up for success from the beginning. 

Puppy proofing your home

Like babies, puppies explore their environment with their mouths. Before you bring your puppy home, walk through your house and yard and look for items that might be unsafe for your puppy. 

These items should be placed well out of mouth’s reach:

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Medications
  • People food
  • Electrical cords
  • Sharp or breakable objects
  • Fertilizers and herbicides
  • Mushrooms (in your yard)
  • Essential oils and potpourri
  • Toxic plants
  • Antifreeze
  • Cocoa mulch

Place your veterinarian’s phone number in an easily accessible spot, and consider adding the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center phone number to your contacts in your smartphone. 

Puppies have an innate need to chew, which is normal and healthy. Ensure you provide appropriate items for them to chew, such as toys. Otherwise, you may find some of your cherished items have become fair game for chewing, especially if they are on the floor. 

The importance of routine

Puppies are creatures of habit, and they are wired to learn. You can set your puppy up for success by establishing a regular and predictable routine for them. 

This one step can make all kinds of training–from crate training to obedience training—much easier for you and for your puppy. Establish a bathroom routine right away that remains consistent. Unless your puppy has had all of their vaccines, pick a bathroom spot outdoors that other animals don’t have access to, to minimize exposure to viruses and bacteria. Then, take your puppy to this spot at the following times each day:

  • First thing in the morning
  • About 30 minutes after each meal
  • After your puppy drinks a lot of water
  • Immediately after your puppy wakes from a nap
  • After physical activity or playtime
  • Last thing at night before bed

When your puppy eliminates in the designated spot, give them lots of praise. If there are accidents, don’t scold or punish. By sticking to the routine, offering positive reinforcement, and providing plenty of practice, you can ensure your puppy learns the potty ropes in no time. 

Your partners in pet care

Take your puppy for their first veterinary visit no longer than 48 hours after you bring them home. This visit is a great opportunity for you to ask questions about your puppy’s health and wellness and set up a preventive health routine. At the same time, your veterinarian can examine your puppy for any health issues. To give your puppy the best chance for success, set up a series of wellness and vaccination visits, which will help your veterinarian ensure your puppy is healthy and growing the way they should. 

At each of your visits, your veterinary team will discuss your puppy’s overall health, behavior, nutrition, training, exercise, and disease and parasite prevention. This will also be a wonderful opportunity for your puppy to have a good experience in the veterinary setting, which will help make future visits easier for you and for them.  

Socialization matters

During the first few months of life, puppies have a socialization window that will shape their personalities and how they approach new situations as an adult dog. 

From 3 to 14 weeks, expose your puppy to as many new situations as you can, so that they learn to approach new things with confidence. Let your puppy go at their own pace as they meet new people or encounter new places. Give them lots of praise, and never punish or scold. With the right encouragement, your puppy will soon learn that new people and places are fun and safe. This is particularly important because behavioral issues, not disease, are the number one reason pets are relinquished to shelters. Set your puppy up for success with gentle and positive experiences that will help prevent the development of behavior issues later. 

Training tips

Once your puppy has completed their vaccination series, it’s time to begin puppy classes. By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set them up for a lifetime of positive social interactions.

Teaching your puppy to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come is not only fun for you, but it also helps keep your puppy (and adult dog) safe from hazardous situations. Puppy classes are a great way to socialize your puppy and are also wonderful for training humans how to speak “dog.” Classes typically begin accepting puppies at age 4 to 6 months.

Pet health insurance for your puppy

Puppies, and all pets, for that matter, can be prone to getting into things they shouldn’t, and that can result in unexpected and urgent veterinary visits. Consider a health insurance plan for your puppy, which can help pay for emergencies and unexpected veterinary expenses and also minimize problems related to pre-existing conditions, which typically are not covered by insurance plans. 

There is so much to be excited about when you bring a new puppy home. Contact us to schedule your puppy’s first veterinary visit, and set them up for long-term success.