8 Tips To Help A New Puppy Feel At Home
Are you thinking about adding a puppy to your family? Whether you’re a first time pet owner or a seasoned pro, we have some tips and tricks to help make a new puppy feel at home.
- Puppies need time. Puppies need time to acclimate to their new surroundings as well as time to acclimate to your expectations. It can be scary for a puppy to leave their mom and siblings to start their life with you. Support their wants and needs and give them some time to decompress. With this said, we don't recommend letting them cry it out. Support your pup at all stages and with all emotions. Experts say puppies will start to feel comfortable within 2-3 weeks.
- The critical socialization period happens during their first 3 months of age - this is the perfect time to help your puppy learn that situations, surfaces, objects, dogs and people, body handling and sounds are safe. You can give your puppy a head start in being able to be comfortable, calm, and confident in many strange scenarios they may find themselves in later in life. Remember, they are learning from you and their environment every minute they are awake - start training early. Even starting to work on small things such as eye contact and come when called will go a long way.
- Build a routine. As creatures of habit, dogs enjoy having a routine. Having a routine also helps your dog understand your expectations. Eating, going to the bathroom, sleeping, enrichment and play, and interacting with people and other pets all benefit from routines.
- Give them a safe space. This can be a kennel or a small area of your home such as a laundry room or bathroom. Dogs want to know that they have a familiar, safe space that they can retreat to, without any interruptions.
- Reward their good behavior. At Clawguard, we are big fans of positive reinforcement training. When your dog behaves in a way that you would like them to continue, be sure to reward them with praise, treats, and belly rubs. Capture 50 "yes's" in a day as you respond to good behavior and reinforce with treats!
- Naptime is key. Puppies sleep 18-20 hours a day! Must be nice, right? Giving them time to decompress in their safe space throughout the day is crucial. You may want to socialize your puppy with everyone and everything, but this can be overwhelming for a young dog. Make sure they have some alone time. If you notice the 'tired toddler' stage, it's time for a nap.
- Daily enrichment is important. This can be a walk outside, a game inside, a puzzle treat, or even sniffing! Licking and sniffing can lower heart rate, meaning your pet can feel more relaxed.
- Enlist the help of a professional. If this is your first pet, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Our friends and partners, Emily Greene and Amy Blom, PhD, PCBC-A, founders and owners of Free Will Animal Training are rewards based trainers based in Charlotte, NC. Even though they are based in Charlotte, they offer virtual training meaning they can help you and your pup, wherever you may be. Schedule a free 15 minute phone call today!
Learn more: American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Puppy Socialization Statement