As we get closer to the time of year when a lot of families will be getting new puppies for Christmas I wanted to share some of my key tips and bits of advice that helped me during those difficult first 6 months. This is in no way any form of professional advice but more me sharing my personal experiences and things that I often tell family and friends who find themselves struggling during those early days.
Keeping an eye on your new pup 24/7 can be tricky and exhausting. Be sure to always take them out as soon as they wake up from any naps, after eating and any excessive playing. These are the key times when they are likely to need to go. A tip someone told me is that when you take them outside and they perform be sure to praise them (as I’m sure you would) but try not to get into the habit of taking them straight back inside and instead play with them for a few minutes. Otherwise they will start to associate going to the toilet with the end of their exciting adventures outdoors and so will stop performing for fear of having to go back inside.
Another tip someone told me was about ‘poochie bells’ these can be found online and you simply hang them on the door where you let the dog out to go to the toilet. Each time you take the puppy out get into the habit of ringing the bells and as time goes on you will more than likely find that the puppy will start to ‘ring’ the bell themselves when they need to go out.
As we all know puppies teeth are extremely sharp and while your four legged friend doesn’t mean to hurt you it can be very painful when they nip – especially if you have little humans in the house. Many of my clothes got snagged and damaged in the first couple of months so I got into the habit of always changing into an old faithful pair of joggers and a hoody as soon as I got home to avoid my nice clothes getting damaged. While I actively discouraged my puppy grabbing my clothes I didn’t tend to get as cross and over react when he didn’t mean any real harm. A huge help for me during this period was the wellington boot trick. This was a hint that my puppy class teacher gave me when the biting was getting me down. She explained that the more you flinch and make a noise as the puppy nibbles you ankles etc. the more they think it is a game. She advised I clean my wellington boots and take to wearing them in the house for a few weeks. That way when Buddy nipped my ankles I didn’t react as I couldn’t feel it and he soon lost interest when he didn’t get a reaction.
Lets not forget that teething isn’t fun for our pups either. They have very sore and swollen gums much like a baby and they chew and bite in frustration. A lot of people have mentioned in the past about giving puppies ice cubes to relieve their pain but I was always scared by the horror stories of ice cubes resulting in a twisted gut. Instead someone gave me the tip of wetting an old flannel or piece of cloth so it was saturated and then twisting it round and placing it in the freezer. Once it was frozen I used to give it to Buddy to chew on and it did wonders to soothe his hot sore gums. After it had defrosted and he lost interest I simply re-froze it again for the next time.
Once Buddy had received all his vaccinations and he was cleared to venture out into the big wide world I tried to make sure I exposed him to as many different situations as possible. It may seem silly but I read somewhere that the more you can introduce them to people with different colour hair, skin, wearing hoods, carrying umbrellas etc. etc. the less sensitive they are as they grow up. A big part of this was also attending puppy school so he could mix with other breeds of dogs and establish boundaries.
These are just a few of the little tips that helped me during those first few months. It wasn’t all roses for me and at times I really questioned my decision to get Buddy but I can honestly say he is such a wonderful dog now I don’t regret it for a second.