Many people will count puppies among their holiday gifts this year, triggering a 10-15 –year relationship. Like many relationships, the bond between pet and owner begins immediately and the first few weeks and months are crucial to forging a healthy, happy relationship.
Every breed has unique characteristics and every dog has its own personality. But there are a few things you can expect from every puppy: they will relieve themselves often and indiscriminately and they will chew. Preparing your home in advance of the puppy’s arrival can minimize the frustrations associated with those behaviors.
One of the keys to raising a puppy is making sure the dog has its own safe, dedicated space inside and outside your home.
Indoors, rather than giving the pup free reign we recommend providing an exercise pen and a crate for managing the pup’s behavior. But that doesn’t mean separating the pup from your family. On the contrary, we recommend having the pup in a pen when you can keep a watchful eye on it. That way, the pup feels like its part of the family without being able to destroy anything. When you can’t be watching the pup, it should be kept in its crate. That’s also where the puppy will sleep, whether or not you choose to have the crate in your bedroom. At bedtime, the crate can be moved into your bedroom.
Healthy, well adjusted dogs need time both indoors and outdoors. When outdoors, the pup should be kept in a dedicated exercise area, often called a dog run or dog kennel. They confine the pup so it cannot dig holes in your garden, chew up your irrigation system or relieve itself on your deck.
Avoid using grass or dirt for the exercise area. The grass will likely be ruined and the pup will get filthy. Better options include decomposed granite or synthetic turf. The exercise area should include shelter from the weather – shade in the summer and an escape from the rain and cold in winter. There are a wide variety of prefabricated dog houses on the market; one of our favorites is the Dogloo.
Another fact of puppy life is chewing. They will chew almost anything – and everything – if given the opportunity. The best solution is to provide the pup with plenty of high quality toys that can be chewed safely. Avoid the temptation to give your pup an old shoe or sock. They have no way of discriminating between an ancient pair of Converse and a brand new pair of Manolo Blahniks. Also avoid flimsy rubber toys or used water bottles. They can easily be chewed into small pieces and get lodged in the puppy’s throat. Stick with any of the wide variety of hard plastic toys on the market, such as Nyla-bones or Kong toys.