Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

Winchester's Premium Professional Pet Training

So You Got a Puppy for Christmas — Now What?

Congratulations on your new ball of fur and energy. You’ve got your puppy home. Now what do you do?

It’s never too early to start training your puppy so your new furry family member has the best chance to acclimate to life in your home. Here are some tips on what to do in your first few weeks with your new dog:

  • Set routines early and be consistent. It’s easy to get swept up in the high emotions that come with adding a new four-legged family member, but don’t let the cuteness overwhelm you and have you break from routine. If your puppy will sleep in a dog bed or a crate, don’t begin by letting him or her sleep in your bed. If your puppy will spend spurts of time alone eventually, don’t spend every waking moment with him or her. Decide which family members are going to take care of which dog-care duties early on and have an agreement on rules for the dog.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Puppies are very quick learners, but they don’t understand good and bad behavior. Punishing your puppy for behaviors you don’t want to see, like jumping up, aren’t going to be as effective as rewarding behaviors you want to see, like keeping all four paws on the floor. You can begin using small training treats right away to let your puppy know when he or she is doing what you want. If your puppy is chewing something like a shoe, redirect the behavior towards a dog toy. Calmly tell your dog “off” and give him or her a chew toy. Reward your pup for chewing on the toy.
  • Start housetraining as soon as possible. Know that your puppy has a small, efficient digestive system. He or she will probably need to eliminate almost immediately after eating and drinking. When you begin housebreaking, take your pup out frequently and reward eliminating outside with praise and training treats. Bring your dog to the same spot each time you go outside so that he or she learns this is the place to eliminate. If he or she has accidents, don’t punish that behavior. It will only upset your dog and make housebreaking more difficult. Instead, focus on rewarding your dog each time he or she goes outside.
  • Schedule your vet appointment. Make sure your puppy gets up to date on shots and receives a clean bill of health before bringing him or her around other animals and people. The current position by the American Veterinary Behaviorists calls for socialization early, as long as puppies are maintaining their vaccination schedule.
  •  Socialize your puppy with other dogs. Obedience classes give your new pup the opportunity to interact with all kinds of dogs and people in a controlled setting. It also gives your new dog a place to play with other known, well-mannered, fully vaccinated, healthy puppies that are well matched to yours, which will help burn off some of that excess energy and help him or her sleep at night without crying. 

Want to give your puppy the best? Check out Head of the Class’s puppy programs. Learn how to communicate with your puppy, how to properly socialize your puppy and how to acclimate your puppy to new experiences while building a positive relationship and practicing basic obedience cues. Contact us today for more information.  And congratulations!