Surviving your new puppy - what to expect?

Got a dog during covid and is struggling?

Don't worry, you are not alone.

1. First few days of your puppy in your home

Your dog is scared. So It's very important that you control the new puppy surroundings to get him used to his new environment and routine.

Avoid overly touching/hugging your puppy in the first few days, especially the young ones in the family. Choose a room where your dog will spend the night and left him there for the first couple of days to get acquainted with everything before giving him access to a different room in the house. This will be less overwhelming.

2. Crate training

Crate training is not for everyone but is a great tool to be used to get your new puppy less scared in the first months of adaptation. Dogs are den animals, so when they are scared they tend to hide in dark, confined spaces like under the table, under the bed/sofa, etc.

Dogs learn by association so it's really crucial that you take things slow when introducing the crate to the puppy. Make it his happy place by feeding them, play with them and pet them in there.

Do not use the crate as punishment or when you angry at it. Remember dogs learn by association? exactly.

Want to learn more about crate training? Zak George is a positive trainer and has good tips on how to crate train your dog - the right way!

3. Socialisation

Socialisation is what will make or break your dog in the future. Some people think that it means dog-to-dog interaction but it's not really true! A puppy that is well socialised with its environment and different people before the 16 weeks of age is more likely to grow up confident, calm and open to new situations.

It's important to expose your dog to as many positive experiences as possible. Dogs are funny and they build fear of really silly stuff. A small list of what to introduce your puppy to:

  • People: Different races, ages, gender, sizes. People wearing sunglasses, hats, umbrella, masks, etc;

  • Places and textures: Loud places, busy, high places, hard floor, tiles, concrete, grass, gravel;

  • Other dogs: When introducing your puppy to new dogs, make sure you ditch the dog park and meet up with dogs that you know and like the personality. In the dog park, you can't know the interaction will be positive. You only need one older dog bullying your puppy to ruin all the work you have done.

  • Noises: Bike, skates, hoover, hairdryer;

  • Touch: Touch their paws, nose, ears, tails, grooming, nail clipping, wipe eyes and ears;

  • If you have other animals and want to introduce them to your puppy, make sure to take things very slowly If you have a high prey drive breed, don't ever leave your dog unattended with other smaller animals.

4. Puppy biting

Puppies have little needle-like teeth that hurt so much! This is a natural defence as their jaw strength is underdeveloped, and as their jaw become stronger and larger, puppy teeth are no longer needed as they need a more robust set of teeth designed to cut through meat.

But how do I stop my puppy from biting? You won't. At least you shouldn't. I'll explain why:

If you have kids, have you notice that every time you bring them to a supermarket they touch e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g? Touching different textures and hardness is great for developing sensorial stimulus in young kids, they learn a lot by grabbing everything. This is very similar with puppies, they learn through their mouths and biting, at this stage, shouldn't be inhibited but redirected to things they are allowed to bite.

You are his new family, so you can give the same type of feedback their siblings would be given him. So when those cute shark teeth come for your hand, give him a high-pitched squeak, this should be enough for the puppy to open its mouth and free your hand - This is your vocal clue that biting humans body parts is not cool. After it, give something that he's allowed to chew on (puppy safe toys, chews, etc), followed by a big "Yes! Good boy/girl"!

If you are playing with your puppy and he ends up biting you, cross your arms and wait for 5 seconds. This will show him that playtime ends when he bites you.

Never scald your puppy from biting. They are learning, so always use a problem as an opportunity to show your dog what's right. Try to avoid roughhousing with a puppy, they have very little self-control at this stage.

5. Exercising

Puppies may be a bundle of endless energy but they shouldn't be overly exercised! Puppies joints are not fully connected so high impact and prolonged exercises can actually hurt their growth plates, developing arthritis and mobility issues as your dog ages. Dog with shorter legs tend to have more joint issues, so this is very important to be noted.

As a general rule, physical exercises should be kept 5 minutes per month of age. For example, if your puppy is three months old, he should walk 15 minutes twice a day. Breeds that have inheriting breathing problems (e.g. Pugs, bulldogs, etc) should be monitored closer.

Puppies can go on for hours without knowing when to stop, so give your dog a calm, restful environment for him to settle down and recharge his energies.

Avoid strenuous exercises, such as long-distance running and jumping. Mental stimulation will help your dog to get tired too!

Contact your veterinarian if you are unsure how much exercise to give your dog