So you have decided to buy your dog and you have been to the breeder and selected the little boy or girl who will be a family member in a couple of weeks’ time, what’s next?
It’s time to conduct some family training. Discussing early puppy care, training and setting some ground rules can pay dividends.
You can never have enough information, well maybe you can, but you should be seeking out videos and books to increase your knowledge. This will give yourself confidence that you have the fundamentals in place, especially if you are a new owner or are taking on a breed for the first time.
In my opinion your primary objectives are to get your new housemate happy and comfortable in their new surroundings as soon as possible. This means ground rules need to be applied from the start and a routine implemented and consistently applied. Training needs to start from day one. Routine will help your puppy understand what daily life entails and how they are expected to behave in their new environment.
You may live on your own so the only person you have to converse with regarding the pup’s introduction is yourself but if you share a house with a partner, spouse or family then getting everyone on the same page will help consistency.
Setting Ground Rules
Depending on the make up of the household different game plans are required.
For example; if you are a family with young children it would be wise to discuss with the children that they need to be careful with their new buddy and that the puppy will need periods of sleep when they should leave him or her alone.
Having two teenage children myself once I found an appropriate time in their diaries we sat down to discuss commands and rules. Being teenagers they were revisited, regularly!
Listing the basic commands you are going to use can tackle the eternal down and off discussion – we used down for ‘lay down’ and ‘off’ if Charlie jumped to get four paws back on the floor. The others are self-explanatory – sit, stay, wait etc.
It is also worth agreeing if there are other ‘house rules’ such as any puppy-free zones, whether you want your dog on your furniture, no feeding it from the table etc.
In the first few weeks it is great for everyone to muck in. Although it might sound like overkill, putting a rota in place for things like feeding your puppy, playing/training, toileting (night shift) can add some structure to the perceived mayhem of the early days. This will also mean all members of the family are fully ‘introduced’ to your new member and play an integral part in his or her’s life.
The Crucial First Days
The early days of having your new puppy are a bit of a blur, akin to when you have a newborn baby (not quite as bad though) so any strategies and rules that are discussed and put in place beforehand are valuable. The early days can be overwhelming but stick in there, it doesn’t take long before you couldn’t be without your new dog and forget what it was like without them.