Tips for First Time Puppy Owners!

 

Since quarantine has begun, I’ve seen quite a few people getting puppies to keep them company whilst being stuck at home. This includes both my sister and I, who finally got both of our dream dogs! My sister got the fluffiest cavapoo called Kaia, and I achieved my lifelong dream of owning a miniature dachshund and named her Nala. Having never been around a puppy before (let alone owning one!), I’ve learnt a lot in my first month of being a “pawrent”. So, here are some tips for any new puppy owners out there!

 

  1. Patience!

This is probably one of the most important virtues to have when raising a puppy. Training any kind of animal takes time, and it’s common to feel like you’re not doing a good job because they aren’t trained in a few weeks. In particular, toilet training can leave you thinking “how will I ever do this?!” when they’ve been so good for a week then have an accident on the cream carpet. However, like with many things, patience is key! It typically takes between 4 and 6 months for a puppy to be fully toilet trained, so just rejoice at the victories for the first couple of months with your pup.

 

If you’ve opted for crate training, it is important to remember that puppies are going to cry at first. It’s normal. Just have patience and take note of progress. If two weeks in, they still cry for every minute that they’re in there, it’s probably not for them. But, if every day they seem to get more and more comfortable in there, it’s worth sticking at it. 3 weeks in, Nala is almost fully trained – with the only exception of a 2-minute cry when she’s first left in the daytime, but then nothing!

 

  1. Praise is key

When it comes to training, positive reinforcement is what teaches your puppy what’s good and what they should keep doing. When your puppy goes to the toilet in the right place, or gives you their paw, go over the top fussing them and give them a treat! From this, they learn that what they just did creates a positive response which they enjoy, so they are more likely to do it more and more often until fully trained. If your dog isn’t particularly food motivated, try rewarding them with their favourite toy or even just attention!

 

  1. Resist the urge to punish

If your puppy has ruined your new slippers or gone to the toilet on the freshly cleaned carpet, it can be tempting to punish thinking that it is an effective way of teaching them what’s wrong. However, you should ignore the urge to do this! Punishment is actually counterproductive in training, as dogs don’t understand what you’re actually yelling at them for. ‘Is it because I went to the toilet in front of the human? Okay, I’ll go behind the sofa” (real case study of a friend!). So, basically dogs can misinterpret the reason for the negative consequences, and you’ll end up teaching your puppy something you never meant to! What’s more, excessive punishment can lead to a potentially damaged relationship between you both, which you don’t want. Focus on positively reinforcing good behaviour and ignoring bad, and your puppy will naturally gravitate towards being good in pursuit of reward!

 

  1. Remember – every dog is different

Just because your family dog may have been trained quickly, it doesn’t mean that yours will. Likewise, just because a dog you know is crate trained, it doesn’t mean that you should force your puppy into one if it isn’t for them. All dogs are different, and their personalities differ not only breed to breed, but also individually. Some are renowned for being easy-going, others for being stubborn (e.g. dachshunds!). So, make sure to do your research on the breed to get an idea of their typical traits so that you can pick the best dog for your lifestyle and prepare yourself. There are forums, even Instagram communities, for certain breeds that can be super useful!