Preparing for Puppy & Training
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While excitement, anticipation, finding the right toys, and choosing your Veterinarian will be at the top of the list when bringing home a new puppy, preparing your home for their arrival should rank highly on the list of things to do as well! Just as you would prepare your space when you have a toddler, puppy owners also must take certain precautions when “puppy-proofing.”
Before you begin preparing your home for a puppy, you should think about the yard, garden, and flowerbed areas. First, check fences and gates to be sure there are no holes large enough for a puppy to get their head stuck in or to escape from. Animals do not need much space at all to wiggle through! Watch for trash cans that can be turned over, bits of inedible objects or sticks. Remove from the home and yard any balloons, plastic bags, chip bags, or other choking and suffocation hazards, etc. Remove anything that your puppy might put in their mouths that could be toxic, or that could cause them to choke, suffocate, obstruct airways and bowels, or even perforate bowels. Be mindful of where you are treating your lawn and garden with pesticides and fertilizers, and do not let your puppy have access to that area. Identify and remove plants that may be poisonous. Toxic plants are a BIG deal that is often overlooked by pet parents. One seemingly innocent nibble of the wrong thing can be devastating to a pet’s health. In addition, be sure that all chemicals and harmful products, antifreeze, and other poisons are put away out of your puppy’s reach. Be sure not to ever use rodent poisons, if necessary, but use live traps instead.
Next, you will have to inspect your home as if a toddler is coming to live with you. Just like toddlers, puppies will think everything is new and exciting! They explore their world with their noses and by putting things in their mouths. They do not know when something is dangerous or toxic and cannot discern if an interesting object, such as the remote control, will get them into trouble. Boundaries must be taught and reinforced with consistency.
In addition, when restructuring your home for the new puppy, you should keep these tips in mind: Make sure all electrical and cable wires are in a space that your puppy will not have access to, or hide them under rugs or carpets. Do not keep wires where your puppy can reach them and may gnaw or chew on them. One jolt of electricity will kill a puppy.
Just like a toddler, your puppy will investigate each element in their environment, including low cupboards and bookshelves, bathroom trash cans, rolls of toilet paper, magazine racks, and shoe racks. Just when you believed raising a puppy is simpler than raising an infant, that puppy will learn to pull cupboard doors open! Think about installing “puppy-proof” devices and locks.
A puppy has the brain of a small child, and they are constantly observing and learning. While preparing your home for your puppy, think of them as a member of your family and set them up for success, not failure. Get them a bed and toys that are chew resistant. Line beds and crates and playpens with soft, washable bedding and place it in a safe area just for your puppy. Be sure it is somewhere within the home that is not too drafty and that your pup will be comfortable.
We recommend buying a puppy playpen to use in addition to a crate. Just like a baby’s playpen, a puppy pen will offer an area for them to play without roaming the home. You will rest easy knowing your puppy is safe and contained. The ones that zip at the top are portable and puppies cannot climb out. By placing your puppy in their very own safe space, you are also saving your furniture and other objects from being chewed on, like shoes! A puppy will undoubtedly hone in on your most expensive and favorite pair of shoes and destroy them while you do a quick chore or take a shower. You were only gone for 5 minutes!? Well… that is all it takes.
Puppies typically love their crates and playpens and feel secure once they adjust to the alone time. We have spent a week or more introducing them to the crate. In their new surroundings and without their littermates, it may take an additional 10-14 days of consistency and patience for them to settle into a routine. Reward your puppy when they go into their enclosure so that it is a positive experience and becomes a relaxing space. We like to toss treats in and let the pups hunt for them. We also allow them to entertain themselves inside their space with an interactive Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter and Cheerios or bits of their dry food. Remember that a puppy does not have the control to hold their waste for more than a couple of hours at most, so if possible, we recommend providing a litterbox or small pan for them to eliminate inside their space while you are away for long periods. These are less messy than absorbent puppy pads or newspaper, and typically more durable and destruction-proof. A puppy will destroy and even ingest a puppy pad. We suggest allowing them out once or maybe even twice during the night, and adjusting schedules during the day, so that they get ample opportunities to relieve themselves in their designated spots. Always give them an elimination break before and after containment or bedtime. It is especially important to develop a routine, so they know what to expect as they are learning. If puppy parents can take time off from work or normal schedules to stay home the first week, that is always the best arrangement. There will be an adjustment period for the entire household.
Be mindful of the toys you leave in the puppy’s space when unsupervised. Make sure they are a rubber material or a harder material, like Kong puppy toys or Nylabone, and not rope toys or stuffed toys that have a squeaker that can be destroyed and ingested.
Please do not ever give rawhide products. Rawhide is processed with harmful chemicals and it is notorious for causing bowel obstructions and perforations, resulting in expensive surgery or even death for an animal. While elk antlers or other hard natural chew products are often marketed as safe alternatives, our Vet does not recommend them. They have seen numerous broken teeth from this type of chew in their years of practice, and those broken teeth many times cause pain and require surgical extractions. Through much trial and error, we have learned that we prefer cow tails, bully sticks, and Himalayan chews, but they are only given under supervision.
We recommend keeping all personal objects up and out of reach of puppies. CPAP hoses and masks seem to be a favorite. Please do not ask my husband how we know this. Ha! Keep bedroom doors closed and pet barriers set up for rooms that are off limits. Baby gates are great for blocking off rooms or hallways.
A non-toxic bitter spray will usually help to discourage chewing on furniture and cabinets and wall trim. Corners of cabinets, sofas, and chair railings are the most tempting spots for puppies to chew. Even baseboards and sometimes drywall are tempting chewing surfaces. Just like a toddler, puppies can get into mischief quickly, especially an exploring, teething puppy. Always supervise puppies or put them up if you cannot. Some trainers recommend tethering a puppy to their owner’s waist by a leash for a minimum of two weeks. This ensures that puppies are constantly supervised while you properly housetrain them and bond with them.
One last thing to think about when preparing your home for your puppy is any flights of stairs that you have in the home. If you have an open basement or even 2nd floor, utilize baby gates or pet barriers to barricade the area to avoid accidents and trouble. Like babies, puppies are not aware of danger and do not understand that they may fall and get hurt.
Just like a baby, puppies will require lots of time, cuddling, attention, and plenty of kisses! Realize, also, that there will be moments that you will be overwhelmed, tired, and frustrated as you train your new pet and teach them the boundaries of your home. Take a deep breath!
We recommend positive reinforcement with praise and treats, with emphasis on the GOOD behavior that you want to promote. Once you have established the good behavior with 2 weeks of time and consistency, then you can start showing them what is unacceptable by a firm “NO” and a redirection of their attention or a time out. Remember that puppies do not understand if you give them mixed signals, so always be consistent. All members of the household need to follow the same rules and expectations.
If puppies have something in their mouths that is off limits, take it away and replace it with an appropriate toy. Some owners use a correction device that makes a sharp, shrill & unpleasant noise that humans cannot hear, but it gets the attention of animals! Remember also that a puppy’s attention span is literally two seconds. If you do not interrupt their undesired behavior and redirect it within two seconds of the offensive behavior, your puppy has no idea why it is being scolded. We do not approve of hitting or spanking a puppy or “rubbing its nose in it.” This mentality is wrong and can cause more mental harm than good in a young puppy, not to mention, it can injure their fragile neck and cause permanent damage.
Our program recommends behavioral training for all new pet parents by courses with a live, certified trainer that can give you feedback. This will teach owners how puppies think, a puppy’s cognitive abilities and processes, and how to communicate effectively. Proper, structured training helps to build the most wonderful bond with our pets. Often the owners learn just as much, or more, as the pets do from a trainer.
LCS is partnered with Baxter & Bella as an online or virtual training source. Baxter & Bella has numerous training resources on their website that are FREE. We urge you to take advantage of the opportunity to raise your pup properly with the correct methods of training. Take a look at what they offer.
A LIFETIME membership is reduced by 25% when you use the code LAUREL. Let us know when you earn your puppy certificate from Baxter and Bella, and send it to us for an extra special reward.
Visit their website here;
Download the Free Puppy Survival Guide here;
FREE podcasts here;
YouTube is an invaluable resource for calming music for puppies and even training tips and videos.
Remember to always be patient and kind and give yourself a time out when exasperated! Put your pup down for a nap in their safe space and let them whine it out. Trust me, parents, as in ALL things, this too, shall pass! Please do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have, as I have made a commitment to you and your puppy to offer support for a lifetime.
Lots of Love,
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Hopkins County, Texas