Puppies, like human babies, are bundles of fun but can be overwhelming. They're exploring and learning constantly, getting into things they probably shouldn't get into. You're sure to have a few surprises here and there, but at the end of the day, those sweet puppy snores and occasional kisses erase the small headaches. A few tips and tricks can help you keep your sanity during puppyhood. At the end, you'll have the well-behaved family dog of your dreams.
Preparing for your pup is the first thing you should do, even before you bring him home. If you've already brought him home, however, make sure you've got the right supplies. Your pup needs a few things to be happy and, let's face it, a few of these things can help save your sanity. An adjustable crate is ideal as it allows you to insert a wall while your pooch is small and then take out the wall as he gets bigger. A playpen or baby gates are ideal for keeping Rover in a contained area, while puppy-specific toys can help keep your stilettos safe from his super sharp baby teeth. He also needs a dedicated area where his crate stays and another where his food and water is. Oh, and puppy-proofing is a real thing - do it! Put valuables away, block access to outlets and cords, and make sure doors and cabinets are shut tightly.
Routines not only help your pup, they help you. Start putting all activities on a routine. Feed your puppy at the same time in the same place every day. This helps you because what goes in must come out, meaning the feeding routine will help you figure out when exactly your furry friend is going to need a quick exit to relieve himself. Starting a routine of daily activities will play into your pup's adult life. Have a schedule for playtime and rest time, as well. For example, have playtime in the morning after he relieves himself and after breakfast and before dinner. After dinner, you may want quiet time. When your puppy learns your schedule, he'll be more apt to follow your desire for quiet time.
Training begins the first day and never really ends. Training doesn't just include the typical commands like "sit," "stay" and "drop." It deals with teaching Rover how to stay off the furniture, where he's allowed to go in the home and how he's to act when in the company of others. Start small, practicing one command at a time during several 10- to 15-minute sessions per day. For everyday teaching, stay consistent with your commands and don't give in. Allowing your puppy to sleep beside you on the couch one night and then scorning him for lying on the couch is confusing.
A well-socialized puppy will be a better adult. Socializing doesn't just involve puppy play dates, it also involves getting your pooch around different types of people. Introduce your puppy to all kinds of people, always letting him approach at his own pace. Introduce children, babies, men with beards, people in hats, crowds and more to your puppy while he's young; this will help him not be shy or fearful as an adult. Take him to puppy day care or training classes where he'll be around other dogs.
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