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Puppy Parenthood 101: Everything you need to know!

Puppy Parenthood 101: Jack Russell Terrier Puppy Running in the Grass Towards You

Puppy Parenthood 101: Bringing a new dog home is fun, exciting and can be filled with questions.  There are 5 things your new pup needs to bond with their new human and be relaxed and happy.

EXERCISE

Most dogs have energy that must be released in positive, healthy ways.  If your dog is being destructive and seems unable to control themselves.  Every pup should have at least two 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions daily, more is even better. Large and small breeds of pups need exercise. Remember: A tired dog is a good dog!

Puppy Parenthood 101: Rottweiler puppy with balls sleeping on a striped blanket

Exercise can come in many forms. The important factor is that it is aerobic. Your dog needs to get that heart rate up and going. Letting your dog out in the yard isn’t enough.  Many people notice their pups seem to get very energetic in the morning & evenings, this is normal so try to capture that as a good time to exercise your dog.  Below are just a few ways to exercise your dog.

  1. Take your puppy on a fun, fast-paced walk in your neighborhood.
    2. Play an interaction game with a dog toy like fetch or go find it.
    3. Have your dog chase you (but avoid chasing them).
    4. Swim with your dog if your dog likes water.
    5. Have a puppy play date with a friend and their dog
    6. Hide a variety of toys and treats in your yard and let your dog discover them.

Neglecting to exercise your dog can lead to having a dog you can’t live with or enjoy, because they can be destructive, hyperactive, and hard to control.  Exercise is the cur all for that behavior.

BENEVOLENT LEADERSHIP

Leadership is about being kind, caring and consistent. Good leaders provide for their dog’s welfare and have their best interests at heart. A good leader provides clear guidance and structure, and offers fair rules and sets boundaries.

Manners should be taught the minute you bring your pup home. Teaching basic obedience skills, like “sit,” “down,” and “watch” and then cue these behaviors to have your pup “earn” anything they value. The value can be treats, pets or toys.  Having your dog sit before getting anything is the equivalent to saying please.

Puppies as young as 8 weeks of age can start by learning the basics. Once your puppy understands your rules and expectations, they will be calmer and happier dogs because they will feel comfortable knowing what is expected of them.

A few more tips to Puppy Parenthood 101!

SOCIALIZATION

Socialization is one of the most important things you can do for your pup. Introducing your puppy to others within this environment is a very important step in his development. Puppies need the opportunity to meet all kinds of people with a variety of attributes– different genders, sizes, shapes, ages, etc. This will enable the puppy to feel less anxious and more relaxed around strangers. Puppies should also be able to mix and mingle with as many different types of dogs and other animals (including cats) as possible.

Puppies should also be introduced and “desensitized” to everything that is a part of your world and daily routine. Examples include vacuum cleaners, stairs, plants, water, toys, and just about anything that moves, smells, feels different, or makes noise. The more your puppy experiences pleasantly, the less they will be afraid of later. Never force your pup into a scary or uncomfortable situation on. This will devalue the trust they have for you. If your pup is stressed or fearful around people, animals, or objects, search out safe socialization opportunities, and take things slowly and always have it be a short positive experience.

The socialization window for dogs is in the first 8-12 weeks of life. Without proper socialization during this time, the puppy will be less likely to form a strong attachment to people and may be timid later in life. Socialization will help ensure a well-adjusted, friendly dog.

SUPERVISION

Dogs are about the equivalent of 3 years old mentally for their entire lives. Pups need to learn all the rules of the house and be completely trustworthy before they can be allowed to have full access to your home. Trustworthy means no accidents in the home and no picking up or chewing of inappropriate objects. For times when you cannot closely supervise your pup, they has either should be confined in a small safe area like a dog crate or bathroom with no towels or toilet paper to chew on.

Another good idea is to tether your pup to your belt loop via leash. This way he can’t run away and eliminate out of sight or pick up unsafe, inappropriate objects. Think SAFETY at all times and try to anticipate problems. It is important to pick up unsafe objects and puppy proof your electrical cords by bundling/taping them to the ground or making them inaccessible.

MENTAL STIMULATION

Physical exercise is just as important as mental exercise. This is what is referred to as Enrichment. Dogs are intelligent beings that like challenges.  When not mentally stimulated the chewing, digging, barking and other unwanted behaviors will increase.

Find several toys that will keep your pup’s interest. Rotate the toys, if a dog has access to the same toys every day, boredom will set in. Offer one or two toys daily and pick them all up at the end of every day, giving them a new group the next day.

This article for Puppy Parenthood 101 was first published on ProjectPAWS.org on 11/10/19.

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