Things to Know Before Getting a Puppy

When you first bring your puppy home find him a wooden box (a fruit case turned on its side will do) with a blanket and a well-covered hot-water bottle, so that his first night away from the warmth of his mother isn’t spent shivering and crying.

Puppy’s first week at home

The box must have an opening so that he can get out to relieve himself; even very small puppies avoid spoiling their bed if possible but make sure he cannot wander far afield and lose his way back to the box.

If your pup is going to come inside the house he must learn straight away to relieve himself outside and not on the carpet.

If you can’t find the time to train him don’t bring him inside until you can.

Suppose you want to bring him inside and have a game and you find him asleep by the back door. Don’t bring him straight inside; take him on to the lawn and wait until he empties his bladder. Then make much of him, as though he has been very clever, and bring him indoors.

Watch him carefully every minute (if you have to leave him, put him outside again first), and as soon as he starts sniffing around purposefully take him outside again and wait until he makes his puddle.

It should take only one or two days to train an intelligent pup, provided you always take him outside to the same spot and that the distance is short and easily navigable.

Decide what word of prohibition you are going to use in training your pup, and use it always in the same tone.

Training your puppy

During the first few weeks, you will teach him many things. Never give an order unless you are prepared to take the trouble to see it is carried out. When you are teaching him what NO means he should find that if he ignores it trouble will follow instantly and inevitably.

Except for teaching him to come when you call him (rewarding him at first with bits of meat and always with praise) and to walk on a collar and lead (a few minutes at a time at first, then gradually for longer periods), most of your pup’s training for the first few months will be teaching him the things he must not do.

More positive training usually begins at about 6 months.

When he starts to pull at the hearth rug, say NO, and give him a sharp tap on the nose; he will recoil for a moment, then will probably return to the attack. Another NO and another slap, as often as he tries it, and he will begin to learn.

The order NO must come as the dog is thinking of performing the action you want to forbid. To be a good trainer you have to be able to read your dog’s mind.

If you have your pup out for a walk and a car comes along, a gleam appears in his eye as he watches it approach, he tenses his muscles, and … NO, you snap.

If he has been properly trained to that word he hesitates and looks at you, you repeat the order – and the car is passed.

The lesson will have to be repeated several more days before he forgets all about chasing them, or even before you can risk having him off a lead. But the main battle was won the first time you caught him at the perfect moment – while his mind was chasing the car, but before his body started to do so.

Teach him to stop jumping up on people when his paws are muddy when he is quite young. Say DOWN firmly and smackdown at him each time he jumps up.

The command STAY is never an easy one to teach because it is contrary to his great desire to accompany you, but it is invaluable. It teaches your dog to wait obediently for you until you are ready.

Put your hand up in the warning gesture he has learned to associate with DOWN, and take a step backward from him, saying, STAY.

As he starts to take a step after you, you say, NO-STAY. The NO stops his movement to follow, so you take another step back and repeat STAY over and over. Each time he moves you say NO.

Don’t put too great a strain on his obedience at the first lesson; call him up and make much of him and come back to it later.

Teach your dog to heel while he is small enough to be pulled easily into position with the lead, and pull him back into position the moment he strays. Don’t prolong the lesson too much at first.

With the commands STAY and SIT you can signal the end of the lesson by calling the dog, but for HEEL you must have some definite word of release, or how is he to know when he is allowed to stop walking at heel? It may be a word like RIGHT or just a sound like PSST, but see that your dog remains at heel until released by it.

Tips for bringing home a new puppy

Here are a few tips to bring home a new puppy.

1. Vaccination

Most adult dogs in cities have had distemper or been immunized against it, but at the time of weaning, puppies need an injection of “hyperimmune” to give them immunity until they can be properly vaccinated at three months. A second “booster” dose of vaccine is given three to six months later, depending on the vaccine type.

Hepatitis is not as prevalent as distemper, but it is wise to have your pup vaccinated at the same time as he has his distemper injections.

2. Spaying

You may decide to have a female puppy spayed to prevent her from having a litter. This is best done when the pup is about three months old.

3. Exercise

The amount a dog needs varies with the breed. A walk around the block is enough for a Pekingese, but an active dog is healthiest if it can have really strenuous exercise at least once a week.

He could exercise by running beside a bicycle, retrieving a ball, or running free in the country or at the beach.

A dog needs to exercise his mind as well as his body. A walk around the block comes into its own here – the variety of smells he encounters on the way is as exciting as a television serial is to you.

4. Long-haired dogs

If you have a long-haired dog, shave the insides of his ears all around the orifice during the summer months and clip the hair very short between the toes, otherwise seeds of wild oat grass tangle in his silky hair and cause a lot of suffering.

5. Bathing

Use a mild kitchen soap to bathe your dog. Most “dog soaps” contain strong disinfectants that irritate a dog’s skin and can cause eczema.

Dry the dog with a towel after washing him, then keep him moving – take him for a walk or play with him – until he is thoroughly dry, or keep him by a heater.

6. Hot weather

If you have a thick-coated dog like a samoyed, collie, pomeranian, or chow, groom him regularly with a comb, not a brush. Sudden temperature changes cause severe molting, and the dead hair becomes matted and makes him very hot.

When the temperature is really high and your dog is obviously distressed, have his hair stripped close to the skin.

7. Feet and Nail

A dog’s feet are designed for the rough country, which keeps his nails worn down almost to stumps and the hair between his pads short and sparse.

The restricted life he leads in a suburban home means his nails will grow long and can actually deform his toes. Check his feet every couple of months and keep the hair between and around his pads short.

If the nails are too long, consult your vet, because inside each nail is a sensitive and vascular “quick” which grows longer as the nail grows. If you try to clip the claws back to their normal length in one operation you may cut straight through the quick, causing acute pain and severe bleeding.

8. Teeth

Dogs fed on mushy food or which have their meat cut up for them often get heavy deposits of tartar which push the gum back, exposing the root of the tooth, and the infection gets in.

Examine his teeth every few months. If there are brown stains or deposits, take him to the vet.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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