Dogs of all ages need homes, including the adorable puppies tumbling together in the side room of the local humane society. Maybe you weren’t planning on bringing home a 12-week old ball of fluff, but her wide eyes, big paws, and that sweet puppy smell have lured you in.
The shelter was able to provide your puppy with a leash and collar. And now, adoption fee paid, you’re on your way to the pet store with your new best friend. It’s best to let the puppy ride in the cart if she doesn’t have all of her vaccinations yet, but if she does, feel free to let her walk around to investigate.
Just be sure to keep other dogs at a distance and have people approach slowly. This is one of her first social outings and you’ll want to make sure it’s a good one. Socialization is best started with a solid base of good experiences. Have the store clerk give a few gentle head pats and maybe a cookie—if every experience with a stranger is a good one, your new puppy will soon associate strangers with happy times!
A puppy doesn’t need a lot—after a leash and collar, an I.D. tag for the collar, chew toys, and a kennel –all a puppy needs is your attention. A puppy will look to you for assurance, behavior lessons, and daily walks.
Puppies love to chew, and they will chew on anything. Keep a close eye on your puppy and redirect her with an appropriate chew toy whenever she reaches for you shoe, or the leg of a chair. Praise her when she reaches for her own toys to chew. If your puppy is having a hard time understanding which toys are hers, try some new varieties, or stuff her toys with peanut butter to make them more appealing.
When leaving your puppy alone, leave her with a safe chew toy to give her something to do while you’re away. Be sure that any toy she chews unsupervised is safe—no eyes that can create choking hazards or fluff that can block a digestive system. Regularly check puppy toys for safety—hard chews can quickly get chewed down to choking hazard size and small tears in fluffy toys won’t stay small for long.
Just as a puppy will chew anything within reach, they’ll also investigate anything. An open closet, a burning flame, or a dinner plate all create irresistible opportunities for puppies to try something new. Anything within reach can be, and likely will be, explored.
Baby gates and closed doors create puppy-proof barriers until your puppy can be trusted with more space. Kennel training creates a safe space for puppy only, and keeps your puppy—and your home—safe while you’re away. Until your puppy can be trusted out of your sight, you can also attach a leash to you to keep your puppy at your side.
If your puppy is a chewer, bitter sprays can be applied to cords and other things that can’t be moved out of her reach. Shaking a can of pennies as soon as you catch your puppy chewing on something she shouldn’t be will startle her enough to make her stop immediately, giving you a chance to swoop in and provide an appropriate chewing toy. The noise won’t harm your puppy, but will startle her enough to associate chewing the TV cords, for example, with a negative experience.
Keep all trash bins, plants, puppy-toxic foods, and medications well out of your puppy’s reach. It only takes a small bite to create an urgent situation that will land your puppy in the emergency veterinary hospital.
Shampoos and soaps, holiday plants, and cleaning products can all smell too good to resist when it comes to puppy curiosity. Keep them high out of reach or behind childproof latches on cupboard doors. Consider safety latching the toilet lid as well—it can contain chemicals toxic to puppies, or a very small puppy could fall in and even drown.
Small items such as hair ties or children’s toys, or holiday decorations, all create choking hazards for dogs of every size. Keep them safely out of harm’s way once your bring puppy home. As your puppy learns basic obedience and gets through the puppy stage, you’ll be able to relax a little bit. But, as always, it’s better to be safe than sorry!