puppydom /noun / pup·py·dom /-dem
1. the state of being a puppy
I've been thinking about all the things a brand-new puppy might need when being introduced to a new home. Consideration for those embarking on a new puppy journey, as well as those rescuing or fostering a dog for the very first time is so exciting!
I have vivid memories of the day my wee Ralphie Cocker came home. Enjoying a family holiday... Ralph's first introduction to 'home' was a boat.
I watched Ralph... precariously poised on the edge of the gangway, staring down intently on what was actually, his own reflection; there was definitely adventure in this little guys immediate future, and then...
The little fella lands face-first into the waters of the mighty Pittwater. As he resurfaces for air, totally at a loss for his unexpected circumstance, he is scooped up and on solid ground before he knows what day it is -tail wagging! I was the more startled of the two -my heart pounding! On the other hand, if Gemima could have cracked it -this would have been the moment!
Oh, for the love of dogs!
"Whoever said you can't buy Happiness - forgot little puppies" - Gene Hill
The day you bring home a new puppy and introduce them into your family, and your world is a very special day. But immediately after the new puppy comes into the home, everything changes.
Now nobody said that raising a Puppy was going to be easy. In fact, there may be times when your patience is truly tested, however – stay on course!
Rearing a Puppy is very much like raising a toddler; everything is looked at through puppy-dog eyes of curiosity and marvel. Everything you own will need to be investigated, touched, tasted, and possibly chewed by this new family member - immediately!
Never fear, this is part of how they learn about their environment, and can have a great impact on the rest of their lives (and yours)!
Victoria Stilwell, one of the world's most recognised dog trainers says;
Early socialisation to all types of people, other dogs and moving objects, may largely determine whether you have an enjoyable, or a stressful life with your adolescent and adult dog.”
Here are your 'Top 10 Must Do’s' to get started on right away
One: Agree on a name!
What are you going to call your new Pup?
A good question, and a decision we encourage the whole family to become involved in. Your dog’s name, like your interior design, the car you drive or the clothing labels you prefer, will speak volumes about what kind of family you are.
Whether you’d prefer a strong name for your serious wee pup like Bill, Jack or Max; you’re a light-hearted family thinking your funny-lookin’ pup deserves a name like Elmo, Ninja or Taco; or your new pups a tough little guy and you’d prefer a name with an edge like Boris, Boss or T-Bone, we first suggest you head to the local Dog Park and go a few rounds calling your chosen names at the top of your lungs!
There will be nothing like this process to help you narrow down the options and come to a final decision. Not that we’d ever suggest you’re going to get side-way glances, if calling your Bull Mastif -Sweety!
Choosing a name for your puppy may not be as easy as you first think, but there are many great resources such as mydogsname.com to help with this process.
Consider giving yourselves time to come to this decision, after all this is the new addition to your family and they’ll want you to get it right!
TWO: Collar, leash and name tag!
Your new collar and lead speaks volumes to your new pup. It not only says ‘you belong’ and ‘you’re loved,’ but most importantly it says, ‘we’re in charge.’ So make sure that the collar and lead you choose are both good quality, and fit your new puppy correctly.
These items are two of the most important tools you have as a dog owner, so before you collect your new mate, let’s make sure you’ve chosen the right collar, and lead! Yes, fashion has its place, but your new addition will grow quickly so remember that safety, practicality and fit above all are the most important requirements.
Never buy a collar for your pup to grow into!
Just as important is the registration and identification of your pup which is mandatory in most States of Australia. Check out this link to the RSPCA Australia Knowlegebase and access exactly what requirements are necessary in your State.
We recommend you search for your local Council’s requirements pre-puppy, and complete any paperwork as a priority once your puppy comes home.
A Registration Tag, sometimes provided by your council, or a name tag you choose from any number of outlets like your Vet, or on-line such a Pet Tags, are all a priority before your dog ventures out into the big wide world.
THREE: What are the house rules?
Your new puppy’s Christmases are about to all come at once. New collar, new lead, new family, new home, lots of cuddles, attention and “oh boy... lots of new things to mess with!”
Just like raising a toddler, your new puppy will without doubt, want to get into everything!
Whether this means the many bright and colourful toys you’ve purchased from your local pet store OR the toilet roll, chair leg or an empty plastic yoghurt container. Chances are you’ll suddenly become very busy.
Remember, the first few weeks of your new puppy’s life at home will have a lifelong impact on their personality. And your peace of mind.”
1. What rules are we going to establish?
To ensure your peace of mind remains intact, agree as a family on the basic house rules, commands and boundaries you’ll be teaching your new pup.
Here’s some to get you started:
Do you want your dog to ‘sit’ on command?
What about ‘stop’ or ‘heel’ when out walking the neighbourhood.
Most importantly, will ‘No’ mean no? Or do you even use the word no?
After all, these words are abstract to your puppy, so all good discussion points before you bring your puppy home.
Agreeing on your family’s commands before your puppy arrives, and remaining consistent on arrival is the key.
They’re little sponges when it comes to learning new things, so best not send mixed messages.
If the whole family is united on this detail, your puppy will begin to fit in before you know it.
2. What boundaries do we have?
Again, decide before you pup arrives and if agreed, fence off restricted areas like your formal lounge or the rose garden. It will save you many-a-frustration later on.
FOUR: Puppy-proofing your castle!
Is your home a potential mine-field for your new pup? Have you thought about things from their perspective?
“OMG, look at this! What is it? What does it do? Tastes yum, feels good, gotta’ have it - now!”
Murphy’s Law will tell you that your new Puppy will probably be attracted to the things most likely to hurt him, so think about your home, inside and out. Any wiring or cords that are visible like your stereo amplifier or home PC, or the dangling cord from the iron will shine like a beacon for your wee pup.
And what about items of greater value, like a fine Persian rug or antique furniture. “Hmmm?”
The backyard can also be a dangerous place with hardware items about, open drains or the most potential hazard; a hole in the fence. If your backyard needs puppy-proofing, make the decision before your puppy arrives that he’ll need to be tethered or supervised when out in the yard, or maybe that’s not an option until things are safe. That potential hole in the fence could mean your new puppy is suddenly, completely out of his depth.
So take your time when doing a recce of your family home. Get down on your knees and take a good look at life from 20cm tall.
After all, it’s all about perspective and if there’s danger to be found believe us, your new puppy will find it!
FIVE: Who’s the Leader of the pack?
Your puppy doesn’t know the house rules, or its boundaries yet, so it will probably pee where it wants and then pee some more while you’re not looking; regardless of the newspaper you’ve strategically located on the laundry floor.
Your patience may be truly stretched in these early stages of puppy training. We know - you’ve still got a household to run, chores to complete and dinner to prepare. As your new energiser-puppy is running riot in your living room, just ask yourself one question;
Who is really the Leader of the pack?
Take heart, as there should only ever be one pack leader…and that's you! You are in charge. You call the shots, so make certain you have all your ground rules in place and that everyone in the family is on the same playing field.
Ask for and expect your puppy to pay attention. Ensure all your commands are consistent and that the intonation of your voice commands are always the same, this way your new puppy will learn very quickly the difference between “Good boy” and “NO!”
Above all - don’t give up!
SIX: Where is he going to sleep?
Yes, at the end of your bed is fine if that’s what you choose for your well-behaved adult dog, but let’s consider your Puppy may need to learn some ground rules first.
A safe, warm and enclosed environment will be best. A place he knows means ‘sleep-time.’
Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer says;
“You may prefer to have your dog sleep in the bed with you. It is perfectly natural for a dog to sleep with other pack members, and it is also a powerful way to bond with your dog. But don't forget the rules, boundaries, and limitations; it's your bed - not your dog's.” Courtesy, Pethelpful
The dog bed will become their home away from home; their safe haven where they will retreat to in times of tiredness and escape. The bed needs to be comfortable and supportive, especially when they’re so small and new, and a nice blanket that ‘becomes their own’ is also a great addition.
The command ‘on your bed’ is a great one to use at any time you want your dog to settle. They will learn that lying on their bed is a place to relax, a place to feel safe and warm and a place to go to when all else fails.
Take your dog-bed with you when you go on holiday or away for the weekend. It is that ‘something that belongs to them' and will help alleviate any anxiety that may present over separation from their family or a change of location.
To touch, 'oh so lightly' on ‘your dog sleeping IN the bed with you,’ much is written on this subject by dog trainers and canine experts alike.
As reported by the Mayo Clinic, Arizona USA.
“More than half of pet owners (56%) allowed their pets to sleep in the bedroom. Fifteen pet owners (20%) described their pets as disruptive, whereas 31 (41%) perceived their pets as unobtrusive or even beneficial to sleep.”
If you sleep with your dog and are experiencing difficulty with getting a good night’s rest, we encourage you to question the presence of your companion within your sleeping environment.
SEVEN: What are we going to feed him and when?
Please ensure this includes – 'are we giving him treats,' because your puppy will have very regulated meal-times for its first few weeks, and it’s so important they have the right nutrition and balance essential for adulthood (this includes manners).
Like a new-born baby, their tummies will be sensitive, so the odd Schmacko under the dinner table is definitely NOT the way to go!
Always keep their place of eating the same, and where you can observe. By teaching them to sit and wait for their meal they will learn quickly who’s boss and think that meal times are actually a reward for sitting up straight and paying attention!
You will reap the rewards of this action for years to come.
EIGHT: Puppy Training – yes?
Puppy Training is the greatest resource you can offer your family when learning about a puppy for the very first time. It is also an invaluable experience for your pup, and we encourage Puppy Training through a reputable company found through your local Council, Dog Breeders Club or your local Vet.
A wonderful opportunity to socialise your new addition with others their age and to be educated (both family members and your pup) in a safe and nurturing environment by dog trainers with years of valuable experience.
Famous US Celebrity Dog Trainer Brian Kilcommons says
“Training the dog is easy, teaching the owner the skills they need to make training effective and fun takes a little bit longer. There is little in life as gratifying as the special bond you will develop with your dog through positive training.”
We encourage your whole family to take part. After all, we’re looking for consistency and support here. Everyone needs to be involved, and be happy to do so.
NINE: Bath-time – what products shall we use?
Ensuring your pup’s hair and skin is taken care of from the very start, and bathing from a very young age is the key to a healthy, happy, bath-time dog. Professionally formulated products that are soap-free and specifically pH balanced will promote healthy hair and skin, caring for their canine acid mantle by nourishing and adding moisture.
So do your homework here. There are plenty of products on the market, but never use your own shampoo on your dog. The pH is markedly different and will strip your dog of its natural oils, paving the way for dryness, itching, scratching and possibly unwanted skin conditions.
Puppy shampoos should be milder in formulation – so check this is definitely the case. Your new puppy will be just that – a ‘puppy’ for the first six months, so best start out correctly.
TEN: Do we have other pets to consider?
Sometimes forgotten is the impact on others when a new puppy arrives. Integrating this new wriggly fluff-ball into the family may not be easy on those who have been part of the pack for some time -so considering any other pets you have, especially dogs, is an important must-do. Think about and discuss how any potential anxiety may be reduced.
Perhaps an initial introduction, away from the family home would be instrumental in easing the way for old faithful. Whatever you decide, to aid in the transition of acceptance in others and to avoid any unwanted behaviours, remember those already resident.
This could also mean those with two legs!
These Top 10 Puppy Must-Do’s will help you, and your family along the footpath to creating the perfect environment for your new Puppy. They’re also many of the reasons why when not attended too, chaos reigns in the canine household.
Although many of these strategies may be deemed common sense, it may amaze you to note, that good judgement may go out the window when challenged by your brand-new-energizer-puppy. Like a toddler, every dog has their own personality, and agenda. Just remember, you’re the leader of the pack!
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"Milo somehow had drier than usual skin this past winter & was itching.