How to Give Puppy a Head Start

Do you have a new puppy, or are you thinking of bringing one home? Do you know someone who recently welcomed a new pet to the family?

The first six months of any puppy’s life are critical. At this early age, every impression, positive and negative, will influence the kind of dog your little one will become.

So it’s important that you give your puppy as many positive impressions as possible while limiting negative ones.

This doesn’t mean sheltering your pet from every challenge, and it certainly doesn’t mean neglecting to be firm and fair when needed. But to give puppy a head start, you need to continually provide her with new experiences that prepare her for the rest of her life.

Welcome Home, Fido!

You’ve just brought that furry little bundle of joy home for the first time. It’s very exciting, but also a stressful time for you. It’s even more so for puppy.

Your job is to make him feel as welcome as possible. What can you do?

  • Introduce puppy to her outdoor space, including the place where she’ll learn to relieve herself.
  • Set up the crate in a high traffic area. Being around people, he’ll feel safe and secure, making him easier to train.
  • Establish boundaries as early as possible. For example, if you won’t want her on the couch as an adult, don’t allow her on the couch as a puppy.
  • If you have kids at home, get them as involved as much as possible with their new family member and teach them to properly interact with your puppy.
  • You want to provide your puppy with a well balanced diet.  Nutrition plays a big role in their health and behaviour.  Consult a knowledgeable person in your favourite pet store.  You may also want to check this website:

Don’t Raise a Wallflower

Your puppy needs a social life! So introduce her to as many new friends as possible–both four-legged and two-legged.

By interacting with different dogs, your new pet will learn to be comfortable with any breed, size or age. And by meeting people of different ages, appearance, and ethnic backgrounds, she’ll be less likely to make strange.  And by meeting them I don’t mean physical interactions.

So how can you increase your puppy’s circle of friends?

  • Go for walks when foot traffic in your neighbourhood is at its busiest. This way, you’re more likely to encounter different people and pets.  This does not mean that you should allow your pup to meet and interact with all the people and pets.  Definitely do not allow them to pull you to meet them.  Start early to advocate for your dog by strictly controlling interactions you allow.
  • Consider joining a play group where you and your pet can drop by to meet other dogs and their owners.  Supervised play is the best.  Perhaps a well run dog daycare is your best bet.
  • Also consider puppy classes. These are a great way to meet other dogs and learn more about what to expect with your puppy . A good start time would be anywhere from 8 – 16 weeks.

Meet the Vet

Hopefully, your new puppy won’t be spending much time at the vet, but of course you’ll be taking him there for an initial checkup a day or two after bringing him home. Find a vet that shares your philosophy on raising a healthy dog, and one you’re comfortable with.

Meeting the vet should be a positive experience, so a thorough check up with lots of touching and petting is a great way to start what could be a lifelong relationship.

Two Key Ingredients for Raising the Best Puppy Around

Above all, there are two things you can provide to give your puppy a step up: patience and consistency.

Remember, like a toddler, your puppy is experiencing many new things for the first time. All this can be overwhelming and confusing.

So be patient. Recognize that he needs to explore, learn and make mistakes. And be consistent. You’re the leader, so it’s your responsibility to ensure puppy learns. Repetition and routine will help your pet gain confidence, feel comfortable, understand, and thrive.  Restrict freedom in the house to when you can closely monitor puppy’s movements.  This sets him up for success rather than failure.

Other Things to Help Puppy

  • Take him for car rides.
  • Crate train
  • Structure, routine and boundaries
  • Interact with other kinds of animals.
  • Play appropriate games for his age.
  • Choose the best food you can afford (read the labels).
  • Watch for signs of needing to go out to relieve himself (sniffing the floor and/or turning in circles) and bring him out, accidents shouldn’t be punished.
  • Learning new things should always be a positive experience.