In June of 2017 I was blessed to have finally convinced my mom to get a puppy. Two things I can tell you are that puppies are expensive & they are a lot of work; but nothing changes how much you love them. I know it is bad to get a puppy from a breeder because I would love to support the many dogs who need a home, but in my situation my dog we already had been not a big fan of full-grown dogs. Anyways that is not the point, the point is that I wanna share my experience of getting a 7 week old puppy and give others some recommendations. Here are 8 tips for starting out with a new puppy:
1. Start teaching Early
From the first day you have a puppy that is anywhere from 7 weeks old to a few months old they need to be taught while they’re young. We personally made this mistake with our first dog and did not teach him to ‘sit’ or how to go on walks at a young age. When I got my new puppy I wanted to start off as young as possible teaching him all tricks and how to get potty trained.
Potty training is the most important thing you have to do, otherwise your house will consist of floors covered in dog pee. If you have a fenced in backyard it makes it MUCH easier to teach them to go outside and also tell you. If not, take them on a leash and teach them using one specific place to help it be a consistent thing for them. Use a specific word for going outside so you can ask them and they’ll catch on overtime. I got a shih-tzu puppy and I have heard that they are smart so I tried teaching him ‘sit’ and ‘lay’ as soon as I got him. In my experience he caught on pretty quick with practice, but every dog is different.
2. Reward Them
It is so so so important to show your puppy that they’re doing things right with a treat. Small little training treats make such a difference especially when potty training them. I put my treats in a specific spot and tell them “good potty” whenever they go outside, now they expect treats and get excited when I say that phrase.
Using treats is crucial when you’re also teaching them to ‘sit’ or any other tricks. When they see they’re going to get something out of paling attention to you, they will start to learn. My dog now sits overtime you hold up a treat or toy because I taught him he had to sit before he gets anything.
3. It takes time
Your dog is obviously not going to know how to sit when you pick them up and they’re around 7 weeks old (unless the breeder has worked on training them). My dog is about 7 months old right now and he is still catching on to potty training, but he is slowly but surely showing me when he wants to go. My other dog is 6 years old and he is even still trying to get it down, like I said it depends on the dog and sometimes even the breed of dog.
4. Kennel Training
I have seen many people struggle with what to do with their puppy’s sleeping arrangements. I have even seen people who let their dog sleep in their bed from the moment they get them. I highly recommend not letting them sleep with you as a puppy and using a kennel at night. When you first get a puppy they will whine their head off hen you lock them in the cage at night, you have to stand strong for just a little bit and let them cry it out. I have heard it helps to put something that smells like you (shirt, sweatshirt, etc.) in the cage so they can feel comfort. I have also heard someone suggest a ticking clock right outside their cage because it sounds like the mother’s heartbeat to them. Keep in mind puppies from a breeder have been by their mother’s side since the moment you took them; they are going to be scared and have to get used to the situation. Personally, both my dogs have learned to love their cage and will go sleep in it on their own throughout the day.
Also, if you let a puppy sleep in your bed it will most likely pee in your bed because it’s bladder is not fully developed and it needs to pee and poop more often than you would expect; not to mention there is a chance they can fall off a high bed. Even in the cage it will most likely pee and poop overnight for a little while but it will eventually grow out of it and learn to wait.
Young puppies bite everything in sight. This is just like a baby, they are teething and they need something to chew on constantly. I will admit my mother and I were scared my puppy was mean because he bit everything so often and even chewed on furniture. There is a simple way to solve this: occupy them. If they are chewing on your hands or furniture just give them a toy or a bone. Their teething will start to get better and they will also start to learn to chew on the right things.
6. Teach them NO
Teaching a puppy the word ‘NO’ is so important as they are going through teething and other things. Like I said, they like to chew on ANYTHING or terrorize other pets. You need to teach them that they don’t chew on certain things with a very stern ‘NO’. It is absolutely not effective to hit them or do anything physical to show them it is bad. It can actually make a dog more aggressive with biting if you hit them, while they also might become scared of you. If ‘NO’ doesn’t work for something try steering their attention towards something else like a toy.
Young puppies should not be around other dogs or be out in public extensively before they get their preventative shots. I personally made this mistake because we did not want to leave my young puppy at home with our other pets. We also took him to Petsmart at a young age which was dangerous for him to catch something. Just simply designate a room of your house as somewhere you can lock them up and puppy-proof it. Do not leave out small trash cans that they can knock over or leave hanging cords that they can pull. Leave a potty training pad in a holster, toys, and some food/water for them in the room.
8. Get a Harness
Depending on the breed of dog you might use a harness for their whole life, but as they are a small puppy I highly recommend getting a harness at first. Small puppies are lost out in the big world and don’t know which way to go or even how to go on walks. A harness helps so you don’t choke them as you guide them. If you have a large breed dog you will probably switch to a collar eventually. I have small breed dogs and we just use harnesses all the time.
*You can get really cute harnesses or collars with bow ties online from Clara’s Collars