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Bringing home a new puppy

The unconditional love of a puppy is one of life’s great pleasures.  Their curiosity, innocence, and joy for life are inspirational and bring out the best in us.

A dog’s personality is largely shaped by its early experiences and with proper care and planning, both dog and owner can thrive. Following are 5 steps to help ensure a lifetime of happiness for both your and your puppy:

1. Prepare Your Home
Puppies are naturally curious; so setting up your home in advance is essential. Lock away all household chemicals, keep any potentially poisonous houseplants out of reach, try to tie back any electrical cords and keep doors closed. It’s also important to create a specific “home base” for the new puppy by using portable gates or an indoor kennel to keep the puppy away from trouble as well as helping the puppy to feel safe without the sense of abandonment that comes from being locked alone in a room. Don’t give in to the occasional whine and mix solitude with together time.

2. Diligence Now Brings Happiness Later
Dogs have incredible memories and they’ll never forget something that is fun or rewarding.  It only takes one time getting on the couch or finding scraps in the garbage for them to learn that the sofa is really comfortable or there’s free food in the trash. If they do, they will remember those pleasant things forever; so it is better if your dog never learns the wrong things at all.

3. Stay Positive
Right from the start it’s crucial to always use positive reinforcement to train your puppy. A reward and praise for waiting at the door will be a lot more effective than chasing them down the street trying to teach them they shouldn't have run out. Showing puppies things they have done wrong, especially with an angry voice, makes them hide and virtually eliminates the ability to teach them what’s right. So remember, avoid letting them learn to do something wrong and praise them immediately for a job well done.

4. Proper Socialization
A young puppy must have enough positive, happy, and fun experiences with a wide variety of different life experiences before it is 3 months old. Although your vet might have told you not to take your puppy out due to risk of disease, it is critical for your dog to be socialized before the shots are completed. The truth is that more dogs are euthanized due to behaviors that stem from fear issues than are lost to illness. Proper socialization will ensure that you have a balanced, well-adjusted pet as an adult.  So don’t hesitate to take your dog to different place, introduce them to a variety of environments, and meet lots of people, but be safe and careful choosing how to introduce your puppy to other dogs.  Play dates are great, but dog park visits need to wait until all vaccinations are completed.

In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first de-worming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class. If your breeder and veterinarians will suggest different guidelines for your puppy,  please take their advice into consideration.

5. Be Patient
Puppies are products of their environment and will behave in accordance with what they see and hear. Your early days and months with your new puppy will be filled with teaching moments. And while there will be moments of frustration, like that “present” you find in the middle of the kitchen floor or a well-chewed slipper, just remember that how you react now will make a huge difference later. Patience, love, and guidance go a lot farther than aggression, anger, and unrealistic demands.
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