You’re having a puppy

By Mikaela Weiss

A few months ago, I picked up my new fur baby, a Golden Retriever; Charles Barkley. To say I was excited was an understatement (I had spoken of nothing else for the past 3 months to family, friends and any random strangers willing to listen to me). However, having been a pet parent in the past I was also realistic about what the next few days, weeks, months and year had in store for me.

Bringing a new pup home, acclimating them to their new environment and training them is certainly tough, but of course worth it, for the unconditional love of your new furry family member. If you’re planning on bringing a new fur baby home, here are some tips that might help ease your way into puppy bliss

Worried about that first car trip home?

If you’re like me, you might be worried about puppies first car ride home with you from the breeder or adoption centre. It’s their first experience with you and you want it to be as paw-sitive as paw-ssible (get it?). Car rides can be stressful for a new pup who has never experienced them before.

Try tiring your puppy out before the ride to make it easier on the both of you. You could walk or run your pup, play with them – anything to drain their battery. For me, I played with Charles at the breeder’s before the car ride and then I gave him a bath in the breeder’s sink (young puppies are often exhausted post bath). It worked like a dream, Charles Barkley was out like a light the whole ride and added bonus, he smelled lovely too!

New Home for Puppy

Once at home it is important to make puppy feel comfortable, so they can establish your home as their new home. This means allowing puppy to sniff around and explore. This also means establishing your puppies ‘room’ or a place within your home they can call their own. In my case that was Charles’ crate. Charles did not like his crate at first. The first experience putting him in, my heart broke from how much he whimpered. The solution? I started feeding Charles in his crate. Charles was very excited for every meal time, so I made him take every one of his meals in his crate. This way he began associating his crate with something he really liked: food! In only a few days time, Charles was choosing to go into his crate all on his own!

You can Talk the Talk, but can you Poop the Poop (Outside)?

House training – the bane of all pet parent’s existence. OK that’s a tad dramatic, but dramatics aside, it is quite the task! It’s important to stay vigilant with your pup from the get-go if you want them to be house trained as soon as possible. Pee pads certainly help in keeping the house clean to start but becoming mindful of your puppy’s habits will allow you to forecast when he needs to go and getting him outside before accidents happen.

Rule of thumb of when your pup needs to go: when she wakes up, after she eats, if you see her sniffing around the house suspiciously. As soon as you notice any of the above, go RED ALERT! and get that puppy out the door!

I admit, potty training is still a work in progress for Charles and me. I live in a condo, which adds another level of complexity: I don’t have a backyard that I can let Charles into unaccompanied and whenever he needs to do his business I am running down the five flights of stairs to get him to green space (on the plus side, I am getting a great workout). Whether you live in a condo or house, you can help yourself out by having a Puppy Potty Pack at the ready for when nature calls. Having the essentials ready to go saves valuable seconds that could mean the difference between Charles peeing on the grass or peeing on my favourite shirt.

Making my Puppy Pretty

You may have heard stories of dogs who dislike bath time, going to the groomers or having their nails clipped. This may be because the dog was not introduced to these activities early in their puppy-hood. Introducing your puppy to grooming early will help ensure they don’t dread the activity and instead see it as a common practice. Treats are a great way of helping your dog view grooming positively.

Bath time. In the tub. Treat. Turn on water. Let puppy check it out. Get puppy a little wet. Treat. Take some shampoo in hand. Let puppy sniff. Apply to puppy’s body. Treat. You get the gist.

I choose to brush Charles when he is sleepy, this means less wiggling around while I am brushing. Of course, he still gets treats as I am brushing him. After brushing is nail clipping. I’ll go through 2-3 nails at a time, treating in between, which also gives him a break in between the clipping so he doesn’t get too antsy. I brush Charles every second or third day and even if he doesn’t need his nails clipped I go through the fake motions of clipping his nails so that he gets used to this activity as much as the brushing.

All-in-all you have a long road ahead of you in helping your puppy to develop into a well-rounded dog. There is a ton of fun to be had with your puppy and years of love in-store. My last tip for new puppy parents? Take pictures, lots of pictures, because they sure grow up FAST.