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Three Important Things to Remember When You Bring Your New Puppy Home

a happy family with their new puppy
Got a new puppy? Well you just signed up for a lifetime of responsibility! But don't fret! It doesn't have to be a challenge. Join us in this three part series where we explore three things to remember when you bring your new puppy home.

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Are you the proud owner of a new puppy who’s brought joy (and maybe a few chewed slippers) into your life? Well you’ve come to the right place!  

A confident well trained dog

In this three part series, we will explore three important things to remember when bringing a dog into your life:

  • Training starts the moment you get your dog.
  • Nothing is the dogs fault.
  • A dog is just that, a dog.

If you can remember these three important things in your interactions with your new bestie, you will go a long way to shaping the perfect canine companion that will be a pleasure in any situation.  I mean, after all, isn’t that our job as a responsible pet owner?

1st Point to Remember: Training Starts On Day One with your new puppy

Yes, you read that right.  The moment you get your puppy into your car, delivered to your house, or whatever means you use to get the puppy home, that puppy’s training starts.

While puppies are undeniably adorable, remember that setting clear expectations and boundaries from the beginning forms the basis for a well-behaved canine companion. This doesn’t mean being harsh; it means using positive reinforcement and consistent communication to guide your puppy’s learning.

cute young puppy being trained

Potty Time!

One of the first acts of training is taking the dog to potty as soon as they get home. This is a great way to introduce your new puppy to its new home and your style of rewarding it.  It also helps firmly establish the rules for where your puppy should and should not eliminate according to AKC.org. 

This small act is usually skipped by new dog owners but it helps to set the tone for your pup’s life in its new home.  Take the pup from the car to the approved potty location.  Give the command “go potty” or whatever command you are using for this act with your dog.  After the pup goes, give it a treat and heap mounds of praise on the dog.  This first training session will do a few things:

  • Let the dog see that good things come from you
  • Let the dog know it did a good thing and raise thier confidence
  • Let the dog know this is where it should potty.

 

Which brings us to our next point, treats, praise and our recommended training strategy: NILF.

NILF

dog holding a sign that says will work for treats

NILF means Nothing In Life Is Free, and this is the attitude you should have in your interactions with dogs.  Notice, I said to give the dog a treat and praise AFTER they used the potty?  Well this method should extend to every interaction with your dog. 

Your pup should never be given treats just because.  Your dog should never be given reward or reinforcement of any kind if it isn’t earned. A reward can be as simple as giving a treat to tossing a bestie ball in a game of fetch as a way to release your puppy from the stay position.  It is important to use attention, treats, and rewards like currency and for your dog to earn it’s “paycheck” so to speak.  If given freely, there is no reason to earn them, therefore no reason to display the behaviors you are trying to shape for the dog. 

Why NILF For Your New Puppy?

With NILF training, every reward is shaping the dog because the dog is working for you.  This is the reason NILF is so powerful. It positions you and anyone else in the dog’s pack in a higher pecking order than the dog as all of the dogs needs are met by working for them as well. It also keeps your dogs mind working throughout the day without having to have a formal training session according to Dogmatters.com. 

You should still have formal sessions, but NILF keeps training front and center in a dogs mind.

Socialization

a group of friends socializing their dogs

Have you considered how socialization can benefit your new puppy? Introducing the pup early on to new people, places, other pups and a variety of different things is important to remember when you bring your puppy home.  Socialization is ongoing and continuing to socialize your pup will reap great rewards of a confident, well adjusted dog.  A dog that becomes well-adjusted to different people, sights, environments, and situations is less of a liability and more of an asset. 

Most people stress socialization for big dogs, but all dogs are just that.  Dogs.  So, this aspect of training is important for small dogs as well.  A well socialized small dog won’t pull on its leash to try to get to another dog.  It won’t bark incessantly when someone walks by or when someone rings the doorbell.  Most importantly, though, a well socialized dog is easier to deal with in public so it can be included with you during your outings.   And, after all, a dog’s favorite place is next to you!

Well there you have it!  If you read this far, you are well on your way to becoming a responsible dog owner with a dog everyone will be happy to see coming!  

Stay tuned for Part 3, where we’ll delve into the final key point to remember: A dog is just that, a dog! We’ll discuss setting realistic expectations and embracing the unique joy of bringing a canine companion into your life.

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