What to do before you bring a puppy home

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – With spring right around the corner you might be thinking about getting a new puppy. That’s why Richard and Vicki Horowitz, from Bark Busters stopped by the News 8 studio with Lizzie, a six month old, poodle/shih tzu, to help make sure you are ready for such a commitment.

Below are the major questions Bark Busters answered:

Before you bring home your puppy, what should you have on hand?
* A crate is an invaluable tool when housebreaking a puppy. It also provides your young dog with a sense of security when you are busy or away. However, never leave a puppy in a crate for longer than 4-5 hours.
* Bedding should be thick enough for comfort and sized appropriately for the breed. Be aware that some puppies that are left unattended for too long may chew their bedding.
* Baby gates serve as a great training tool in that they can be used to block off “restricted” areas of the house and help to teach your puppy what areas are off limits.
* Dog-appropriate hard toys are the smart choice. Although children’s toys look cute, they can prove hazardous. Never use old clothing or shoes as toys; a puppy cannot differentiate between your old and newly bought items. Stick with size-appropriate toys for your breed. Always supervise your puppy when he is playing with toys that contain squeakers as they can be a choking hazard.
* Two dog bowls: one for fresh water and one for quality dog food. Consult your veterinarian for food recommendations.
* A well-fitted collar and leash are a must for training and safety during outdoor excursions. Avoid chain leashes; a soft cotton leash is a better alternative.
* A pet ID tag allows your puppy to find his way home should he roam. You may also want to microchip your puppy at your next vet visit.
* Brushes and dog shampoo will eventually be needed for every breed.
* An odor and stain eliminator is a cleaner you will want on hand for those inevitable toileting accidents.
* A veterinarian should be researched and chosen beforehand. You will want a contact should an emergency arise. Introduce your new puppy early to the vet and learn what vaccinations he will need.

In addition to the essentials you mentioned, do you need to “puppy proof” your home and yard?
* Remove potential hazards-anything that would make an enticing chew toy-such as power cords, window blind cords, potted house plants, children’s toys, coins, batteries, shoes and clothing, garbage bins, and anything “bite sized” that could be ingested by a curious puppy. Outside, remove bite-size rocks, sticks, fertilizers, gardening tools and equipment. Also, be mindful of toxic household and garage items, such as antifreeze, detergents, mothballs and tobacco products.
* Large and unstable objects should be moved out of harm’s way. These objects could potentially fall on your inquisitive puppy as he explores his new surroundings.
* Move anything cherished or breakable to higher ground. Puppy tails have a way of sweeping a coffee table clean.
* Get on your hands and knees-at the puppy’s view-to look for potential problems. If you think an item could be a hazard, remove it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

What should you expect on the first day?
Your pup will be excited and anxious in his new environment. It is your job to make him feel safe and comfortable.
* Be patient. Although accidents will happen, do not reprimand your puppy during the first 24‑48 hours while he is acclimating to the new environment. But do praise him profusely when he does something positive. This will start your both off on the right foot.
* Structure is a must. Have a planned schedule from the day your pup arrives-especially when trying to housebreak. Take your puppy outside frequently, and stay with him so that you know he has toileted.
* Getting acclimated will take him some time. Show your pup where he will be eating, sleeping and toileting. As your puppy adapts to his new surroundings and routine, he will feel more comfortable.
* Naps are important for a puppy. Be sure to give him the space and time he needs to relax. Try not to overwhelm your puppy. He is like a new baby, and will need frequent naps throughout the day.
* Start training early. Dogs are pack animals and seek authority and reassurance from the pack leader. Providing this leadership is key to managing a dog’s behavior.

Tips for the first night?
The first night may prove to be a challenge as puppies often cry and whine throughout the night. Also, he probably will need to go out to toilet. Just as the daytime routine is important, so is the evening routine.
* Use the crate and bedding at night. As difficult as it is, avoid letting your pup sleep with you or any other family member. It could lead to behavior problems down the road.
* Your puppy’s sleeping arrangements should be in a central location in the house. If you let your puppy sleep in your room, you may have trouble catching any shut-eye.
* Tough love should be your motto. Usually, a puppy takes a few nights to feel safe at night. Take him out to toilet every 4-5 hours. Other then that, he will need to get used to sleeping on his own.
* If your puppy still has trouble sleeping at night, hide a ticking clock in his bed. The sound imitates the heartbeat of the mother and can sometimes soothe an anxious puppy. To simulate the warmth of his litter mates, place a warm water bottle or over-sized stuffed toy in his crate for added comfort.

 What about going forward?
* Keeping your puppy healthy starts with a visit to a veterinarian. Usually, a yearly exam and the vet-recommended vaccinations will keep your puppy in tip-top shape.
* Exercise your puppy regularly. A walk in the neighborhood or a trip to the park is good for mind and body-for both you and your dog. Be careful not to overdo it with young pups.
* Be consistent. Puppies learn through experience and association. The more consistent you are, the faster your puppy will learn and the better he will perform.

For more information about Bark Busters, go to their website www.barkbusters.com

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