A guide to navigating the challenge and adventure of life with your dogs.

43 Tips for New Puppy Owners

It’s around day two of life with a new puppy that most people start to ask themselves, “what the hell have I gotten myself into?”

When you bring a puppy home, you are suddenly faced with obnoxious puppy behavior like whining, biting, jumping, chewing, and pooping on the carpet.

And if you’ve done any research at all, you know that proper care and training is critical during a puppy’s first few months. The things your puppy experiences now are going to affect him for the rest of his life. No pressure, right?

Between managing the puppy’s destructive tendencies, worrying about stuff like vaccinations and socialization, and dealing with well-intentioned but often incorrect advice from friends, family, and TV shows, a puppy parent can get a little overwhelmed.

So here are some bite-sized puppy tips to get you through the next few months. Bookmark this page so you can refer to it later on, when the sleep deprivation has set in and you can’t remember the difference between a clicker and a Kong.

1. Get a crate. It makes housetraining incredibly easy.

2. Let your puppy sleep in your bedroom, at least for the first few nights. This whole experience is scary for a pup. Don’t make him sleep in the laundry room. Put the crate next to your bed so you can reassure him.

3. Baby gates are your friend. Use them to keep the puppy out of places you don’t want him to destroy.

4. Supervise, supervise, supervise. If you cannot watch him like a hawk, he needs to be in his crate or in his “room,” see below.

5. Set up a puppy room for when you can’t supervise. Pick a small area like the bathroom or kitchen, block it off with baby gates. Add a bed in one corner and pee pads or a dog “toilet” in another.

6. Pick a potty spot. If you don’t want Sparky pooping all over the yard as an adult, pick one area and take him directly there when it’s potty time.

7. Set a daily routine. Housetraining proceeds more smoothly if your puppy knows what to expect from her day.

8. Enroll in a puppy class. Your pup will learn some basic obedience, but the real benefit of puppy classes is socialization with other puppies and people.

9. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Not all advice is good advice. Take everything with a grain of salt. And please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stay away from Yahoo! Answers.

10. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Discuss the puppy rules with your whole family. Figure out who will do what when. Pick one set of training cues and stick with them.

11. Play some puppy training games.

12. Don’t encourage behavior that you’ll regret when he gets big. Jumping up is cute when he weighs ten pounds. It won’t be cute when he’s 60 pounds.

13. Get your pup used to handling from day one, touching feet, nails, tail, ears, mouth, teeth, and belly with love. Your vet will thank you. – via @HoneysHeart

14. Start grooming early on. For the same reason as above.

15. Let your puppy meet at least two new (friendly and gentle) people every day.

16. Take your puppy to the petstore. Great socialization opportunity. Keep her in the shopping cart and off the floor until she’s had all her puppy shots.

17. Introduce your pup to all kinds of novel things. People in funny hats. Remote control cars. Kids playing. Agility equipment. Balloons. Cats. Car rides.

18. Socialize, don’t traumatize. Introduce new experiences slowly and never let your puppy get overwhelmed.

19. Invite friends and family to meet-the-puppy parties.

20. Frozen wet washclothes and baby carrots make great chews for teething puppies –via @muttstuff

21. Reward good behavior, don’t wait for bad behavior. Reward the puppy when you see him doing something you like. Don’t wait until he’s misbehaving to give him attention.

22. Avoid the dog park. In addition to putting your undervaccinated puppy at risk for disease, most dogs at the dog park are quite rude by canine standards. A couple bad experiences could ruin your puppy’s opinion of her own species.

23. Feed 2-3 small meals per day. Don’t leave food out for her to graze on.

24. Pick up anything you don’t want destroyed. If it’s on the floor, it WILL be chewed.

25. Get your puppy microchipped. It’s your best chance at being reunited with your dog if he ever gets lost. You can get this done for around $25 at your vet or local shelter.

26. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. For example, teach your puppy to sit when greeting people. Don’t just yell at her for jumping up.

27. Watch your puppy’s poops. Disgusting? Yes. But it could save your puppy’s life. If you notice anything like diarrhea or blood, take your puppy for a vet visit ASAP.

28. Provide toys. If you provide her with her own toys, she’s less likely to chew on yours (ha! Yeah right. It’s worth a shot, though).

29. Make your own toys. Like kids who’d rather play with the box than with the toy that came in it, puppies are usually happier chewing on an empty plastic water bottle than an expensive store-bought toy.

30. Rotate throught the toys. Let your puppy have two or three toys at a time. Changing up the toy selection will keep Sparky interested.

31. Treat-dispensing toys make great puppy sitters. Click here to learn how to make your own.

32. If you think your puppy needs to go potty at all, don’t hesitate to take him outside! You’d be surprised how often puppies need to go sometimes. — via @ILuvRetrievers

33. Practice separation. As tempting as it is, don’t let Sparky be glued to your side all day. Letting your puppy have time to himself in his crate or room will help prevent separation anxiety.

34. Hellos and Goodbyes should be no big deal. Don’t make a fuss over your pup when you leave or come home. Again, prevents separation anxiety.

35. Don’t get offended when your puppy chews on you. Puppies bite. Sometimes painfully. It is NOT aggression. Do not react by yelling, smacking him, rolling him on his back or holding his muzzle shut.

36. Don’t use ammonia-based cleaners. Your puppy will think it smells like urine and it will actually encourage her to pee there again. Use an enzymatic cleaner like Nature’s Miracle.

37. Visit the vet. Take your pup for a visit when she doesn’t have an appointment. Bring some treats and ask the office staff to give her some. Make the vet’s office a fun place! (call ahead first to make sure this is OK)

38. As a general rule of thumb, the number of hours a puppy can “hold it” is his age in months plus one. So a two month old puppy should be crated for a maximum of three hours at a time (during the day. When they sleep at night, puppies can usually hold it for longer).

39. Leave the TV or radio on when you leave your puppy home alone.

40. Teach good leash manners early. Better to teach your puppy to walk nice on leash than to teach your adult dog to stop pulling on leash.

41. Remember that your puppy is a baby – don’t ask too much of her. Don’t worry about whether she’ll perform a perfect sit/stay or heel. Plenty of time for that when she’s older. Focus on socialization and having fun.

42.Take lots of pictures. Puppyhood goes by SO fast. — via @muttstuff

43. Be prepared for your pup to become an obnoxious little brat around age 6-10 months. Adolescence is even more challenging than puppyhood. Have fun with your teenage dog!

photo credits: one two three

21 Responses to 43 Tips for New Puppy Owners

  1. [...] out these other posts: I Just Got a New Puppy – What Do I Do With It? 43 Tips for New Puppy Owners Puppies Behaving Badly: Jumping and Biting Mischief Managed Oh, Just Kill Me Now! Surviving Your [...]

  2. [...] these other posts: Housetraining 101: the Basics Housetraining 101: 9 Steps to a Potty-Trained Pup 43 Tips for New Puppy Owners Video: Keep Your Hyper Dog Entertained and Out of Trouble Video: Hey, That WAS My iPod! How to Stop [...]

  3. [...] posts you might be interested in: Housetraining 101: The Basics 43 Tips for New Puppy Owners I Just Got a New Puppy – What Do I Do With It? Puppies Behaving Badly: Jumping and Biting [...]

  4. mhairi says:

    Thank you!

    A week ago we got a new Golden Retriever Puppy and we are currently still in the ‘what the crap’ stage! Sadly she had a UTI and so we think that is why she is such a terribly dribbler; does that sound right? Any input?

    Also, we have been crate trainer and she has horrible separation anxiety. The best thing we could have done was to buy a Kong, they are a total God-send! However, still she is crying and battering herself, especially her nose, she’s given herself such a sore one.

    Any help, input would be so helpful!

    thanks again for your helpful blogs and videos

  5. [...] out these other posts: A Beginner’s Guide to Adopted Dog Ownership 43 Tips for New Puppy Owners Is My Puppy CRAZY? A Short Guide to Puppy Behavior Next Post » One Response to I Just Got A [...]

  6. [...] Guide to Adopted Dog Ownership Video: Shelter Sessions Episode 1: The Taming of the Puppy 43 Tips for New Puppy Owners Puppy Training Games « Previous Post [...]

  7. Nisha55 says:

    Thanks I’m getting a Dutch Shepherd named Bri in a while and I’m glad I found this info! Lol

  8. Rain Hubbard says:

    Some dogs are just more emotionally needy. Have you tried leaving something with your smell on it like a shirt or towel? Does she have a snuggle stuffed animal?

  9. [...] 25. Get your puppy microchipped. It’s your best chance at being reunited with your dog if he ever gets lost. You can get this done for around $25 at your vet or local shelter.  Read all 43 tips here [...]

  10. Em says:

    This was really helpful – Thank you! I have been overwhelming myself with information the past week and this was just a fantastic summary to focus on:)

  11. cooaunt says:

    This is excellent advice and a lot of good tips in bullet easy to read bites. Maybe we can link to one another. See what you think of http://www.squidoo.com/puppy-training-takes-dedication

  12. VictorP says:

    I’m getting a poodle cross puppy ( crossbreed/mongrel) in a Week called Archer!! Thanks for the info!

  13. manny says:

    Really helpful for my Boston terrier pup. thanks

  14. Emma says:

    Great tips!

    Another I would recommend is fitting in a scheduled ‘downtime’ (laying quietly, awake), especially if your puppy is a high energy breed. Teaching the dog from an early age to lay down and relax is just as important as physical and mental exercise.Otherwise you run the risk of having a dog that needs to be constantly doing something and lack an off-switch. Very frustrating if every evening is dedicated to keeping the dog occupied until it falls asleep, or else lose your furniture (and sanity) to a neurotic creature who doesn’t know what to do with himself. None of this “[insert breed] needs constant stimulation” nonsense. I have a border collie, and she’s perfectly contented to lay down and watch the goings on of the household (after a session of football – or soccer, as some would call it – in the garden. Others would probably appreciate a chew toy to unwind, of course.

  15. trisha_amber says:

    Extremely helpful. Got a chow chow/malamute and he’s a little ball of energy. He’s so fun but a little brat! I will remember this as he grows. Thanks!!

  16. robert says:

    i have a six month old collie shelty mix she bites and chews and will not take to house breaking any tips would be helpful

  17. reena vashistha says:

    Few years back i have an puppy and I have no such idea of how to manage the arrangements of puppies in home. Thanks for sharing ! There are other guys also over web who are giving some important tips for feeding their pets like…


  18. Carol says:

    Totally agree with the don’t ask Yahoo Answers, the dog-owner community these days can be vicious and they always seem to assume that you’re a terrible pet owner who shouldn’t be allowed near any animals but pet fishes. They make you feel awful and are repeat offenders of bringing the answerer down instead of actually giving out advice.

  19. Keith says:

    Is it weird that my puppy (6 weeks) almost sleeps all day?

  20. Bobeeeee says:

    Great advice thanks! I have done SO much research and this is so good! I wrote 3 whole journals of research and I’m only 11! ( sorry I’m bragging ) I’m getting a 9 week old puppy tomorow from the air port SO excited!!!!

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