While the first month of raising your puppy features endless moments of adorable behavior and precious cuddle time, this formative time in your puppy’s life will also present some questions and challenges for their owner.
A puppy shouldn’t leave their mother until they’re at least 8 weeks old. Therefore, any puppy you bring home should be aged somewhere between 8-14 weeks old. A dog’s socialization period takes place between 7 weeks old and 16 weeks old, so every day that you spend with your puppy will play a pivotal role in shaping their personality and temperament for the rest of their life. When you bring your puppy home, it’s time to get to work.
Have Everything Ready Before Your Puppy Comes Home
You’ll want your home to be ready for your puppy before he or she arrives. Go to the pet store and buy food that is formulated for puppies, a leash, a crate to take your puppy to the vet for their vaccinations and checkups, dog treats, and toys. Puppies have a lot more energy than older dogs, and will require a lot more attention and play to get that energy out.
With that energy comes a propensity to chew things around your house, so after you have all of the things your puppy is going to require, it’s time to take a deep breath and prepare to be patient with them.
Encouraging VS. Discouraging
Your puppy is going to make mistakes, whether it’s eating a pair of your favorite shoes or having an accident on the carpet. How you communicate with your puppy during this period will go a long way in how infrequently these mistakes happen going forward, as well as the relationship you and your puppy will share. When the negative behaviors make an appearance, you’ll want to discourage that behavior without using a tone or voice that is overly harsh.
On the other hand, you’ll want to reward good behavior during the first month your puppy is at home with you. When they successfully go outside, play nice with another dog or person they’re meeting for the first time, or when they avoid barking wildly at the mailman, encourage your puppy with a positive voice and tone and give them some love by petting them or giving them a treat. It’s more effective to train your puppy through encouragement than it is through discouragement.
Establish Regular Eating and Bathroom Schedules
Like kids, puppies excel when they maintain a regular schedule. A schedule teaches a puppy that there are times to eat, times to play, times to use the bathroom, and times to sleep. A routine is especially helpful when you’re training your puppy, as puppies absorb so much at a young age. You’ll need to quickly establish a set time for your puppy to eat, and a set time for your puppy to go outside and use the bathroom.
A puppy can begin potty training right when they first get to your home, so unless you want to spend the entire first month on your hands and knees scrubbing mistakes out of the carpets, you’ll should get started on day one.
Generally speaking, a puppy can control their bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, they can hold it for about two hours. Starting on the first day that you have your puppy, you want to start feeding them at about the same time each and every day. Typically, that’s once in the morning, once around noon, and once at night.
Shortly after feeding your puppy, put their leash on them and take them outside to use the bathroom. It’s recommended to establish a specific spot to return to time and time again until their potty training is complete. When you get to the spot, it’s important to be patient and wait until they go before heading back inside.
While scheduled feeding times will make it easy to establish designated bathroom breaks, your puppy will almost always need to go after a nap. Puppies will sleep about 18 hours per day, so you’re going to need to make a few more trips outside with your puppy that don’t align with when they’re eating.
Some puppies will take to potty training faster than others, but as we mentioned earlier, the more you can encourage their successful trips the better. In addition to encouragement-based training, while you’re potty training your puppy it’s a good idea to try and confine them to a specific area of your house. If your puppy is only spending time in particular room, bathroom, or floor in your home, you won’t have to go searching throughout your house for potential accidents.