Loving and Learning 1

Caring for Your New Puppy

There’s really nothing like the unwavering devotion we get from our dogs. But, most of us will admit it’s sometimes a good thing puppies are so cute. They chew on our shoes and pee on the carpet. If a new puppy is joining your family, a little planning will ease your path to a well-adjusted pet.

Puppies are pack animals. When you brought her home, you separated her from her original pack. That’s hard for a puppy at first, so be gentle and kind. Your puppy wants you and your family to be her new pack. She needs to learn your pack rules, too, so also be firm.

Different breeds have their own quirks, and litters produce a spectrum of personalities. Adapt training to your family dynamics and your puppy’s temperament, but consider a few universal truths:

Firstly, violence or yelling will backfire. You want her to respect you, not live in fear. Focus on positive reinforcement. Next, remember that dogs’ lives are simpler than ours, so don’t project complicated human feelings onto them. Dogs are conditional. They learn more quickly when they know what to expect from you. Lasty, and most imporatantly, love them and they’ll love you back.

Speaking his language

Hopefully, your breeder or shelter provided lots of socialization with people for your puppy. But not every puppy has been handled enough to seek out human affection. Speak soothingly and tell him he’s a good boy when you pet him. You’re teaching him that humans are gentle. Then give him a treat and let him play. Watch his tail for cues and learn that when he looks away, he may need a break from petting or play.

Minding her manners

Most of us have one top priority: teaching our new puppies to go to the bathroom outside. The smaller your puppy’s area, the quicker she’ll learn. Take her out frequently and be generous with enthusiastic praise and treats when she goes outside. Try keeping her in the kitchen at first, then expand her territory as she “gets it.” Many experts swear by crate training. Dogs feel safe in a “den.” Most puppies don’t want to soil their own dens, so making a crate small, with just enough room to stand and lie down comfortably will speed learning along.

Learning makes your puppy feel smart and proud. She wants to make you happy and she wants to get treats when she does a good job.

The easiest “manners” trick is “sit.”

Keeping him safe

Bringing a puppy home is sort of like having a baby. You need to make your house safe for him. Hide electrical cords and garbage. Learn about foods that are poisonous to dogs. Keep an eye out for choking hazards. Never leave him in a hot car and keep him on a leash for walks.

“Leave it” is one of the first skills that helps keep puppies safe.

You’re the boss

You want to make sure people, not dogs, are in charge of your “pack.” Puppies are motivated by food, so you can show a puppy you’re the boss by only leaving food out for 15 minutes. If she doesn’t eat it, take it away. She’ll learn quickly that she has mealtimes. Adding random treats to her bowl while she’s eating helps prevent bowl guarding. Don’t let kids play chase or tug with your puppy until you know everyone can be trusted to be safe and gentle.

“Wait” is a good 
trick to teach your 
puppy self-control 
and establish 
your authority.


Have fun with your puppy! It’s never to late to teach him, so relax and aim first for patience. Remember that a week to you is almost two months in puppy time. He’ll learn fast and you’re the center of his world. Eventually he’ll learn how to live in your house and be your best friend.

You’ll need to take your new puppy to the veterinarian right away, so find one before bringing her home. Stock up on toys safe for puppy teeth so that when she goes for a shoe, you can quickly offer another option. You can socialize your new puppy with other dogs in Puppy Kindergarten classes when she’s as young as ten weeks old.

Tips for teaching “sit,” “leave it” and “wait” are easy to find on the internet. It also helps to find a training book that fits your style. So “sit!” for your homework, then reward yourself with a treat!