Check out these great tips for new puppy owners, or those who are considering getting a new puppy. There are, of course, many more things to consider with a new puppy than what is listed here, but these tips should help give you a good start!
1. Do some research to determine the best diet for your puppy. Make sure to start a regular feeding regimen and minimize any excess snacks.
2. Look into puppy training courses. Puppy training courses are a great way to teach your new pup the basics, and they also help your pup begin to socialize with others. Many local vets and organizations provide these courses at a reasonable rate.
3. Make sure you spay or neuter your new puppy. There is much debate as to the proper age for spaying and neutering your pet, so consult with your veterinarian before making a decision.
4. Take advantage of crate training at an early age. Crate training does wonders for teaching your pup not to use the bathroom in the house, and it often provides your puppy with a special place they can call their own.
5. Take pictures! Your puppy won't be a puppy for long, and you'll wish you had more pics of him/her when she/he was little.
6. Keep your puppy on a consistent and frequent potty schedule. Puppies have small bladders, and need to go out frequently while they are young. If you work during the day and aren't able to take your puppy out every few hours, consider hiring a dog walking / pet sitting service to help your puppy get some much needed breaks.
7. Love, love, love! Puppies need a ton of love and attention, so make sure to give your puppy as much quality time as you can!
8. Start leash training / walking training early. It's a good idea to get your pup used to walking on a leash at an early age so that they walk properly on a leash as they get older. Determine whether or not you'll be using a harness with your pup, and try to avoid retractable leashes, as they provide less control over your puppy's walking behavior.
9. Bring your new puppy in for a complete physical. They'll need to be examined to make sure they're in good shape, and they'll need some frequent vaccinations for the first few months.
10. Make sure everyone in the family is following all the rules. If you have a specific routine, training keywords, feeding rules, etc. it's important that everyone who interacts with your puppy follows the same approach. Consistency is key, and different approaches will only confuse your puppy and prevent them from learning quickly.
11. Socialize! Your puppy will grow into a more approachable and better behaved dog if you begin socialization at an early age. Make sure they get as much human interaction as possible, and as they get older, keep them involved with other four-legged friends in a safe environment (make sure to keep a watchful eye on your puppy when around other animals, and avoid dog parks until your puppy is at least 16 weeks old).
12. If it's around, they'll eat it. Do your best to pick up anything in your home that your puppy could get into and chew/swallow/tear up. Puppies will eat just about anything they can find, so be mindful of what is available to them.
13. Stay strong. Puppies will often cry through the night at an early age, or whimper when you head out the door. Like with human babies, the best thing to do to avoid dependencies or separation anxiety is to stay strong, and to not make it a "big deal" when you leave or come home, or when you head to bed.
14. Don't encourage any behaviors you won't appreciate when your puppy is older. Jumping on you, carrying your shoes, chewing your fingers... these may be cute when your puppy is small, but could be less so when your puppy gets to 80 lbs!
15. Consider microchipping your puppy. At a minimum, you should make sure your puppy has all his/her relevant tags, as well as clear contact information in case they get lost. Microchipping is a great way to keep your puppy safe in situations where their tags come off or go missing.
16. Always use positive reinforcement. Never hit or scream at your puppy for inappropriate behavior. Instead, provide positive reinforcement when your puppy does something good. A firm "No!" or "Bad!" is necessary in some situations, but for the most part, puppies learn best through encouragement for good behavior, rather than discouraging bad behavior.
17. Groom your puppy at an early age. If you get your puppy used to brushing, nail clipping, teeth cleaning, etc. while they are young, it will be significantly easier to perform these activities when they get older.