When you bring a baby furry friend into your home, they’ll depend on you for everything right away. You’ll need all sorts of puppy things, like puppy supplies, a dog bed, a dog crate, and food ready to go. Your pup will also need plenty of attention, socialization, proper veterinary care, and gentle training from the very start.
If you’re a first-time dog owner, this can all be a little intimidating. Supplies are straightforward enough, but how do you remember all of the things you’re supposed to be doing with your young puppy? To help you make sense of it all, here’s an easy-to-follow list of things to avoid in the first couple of months with your new puppy.
Avoid Taking Your (Un-Vaccinated) Puppy To These Places
When you bring home your puppy, you may be eager to introduce your new pet to the world. Watching your little furball experience things like grass, treats, squeaky toys, and other puppies for the first time is a true joy.
This period of socialization is fun – and it’s also key to raising a well-behaved, happy dog. Providing positive and diverse experiences will help your dog become a confident, relaxed pet.1
One potential problem? Your pup’s vaccination schedule. During this same time frame, your young dog will not yet be fully vaccinated against a host of illnesses. For this reason, your vet may recommend you keep your pup away from public places and environments where they’ll meet other dogs.
It’s a Catch-22. You’re supposed to introduce your puppy to as many things as possible, but until they’ve had all of their vaccinations, it’s not quite safe to do so. In the meantime, in an effort to balance these two interests, many vets and dog trainers recommend you socialize your dog but avoid places like:
- Dog parks
- Doggie daycare centers
- Busy public sidewalks
- Pet stores2,3
What To Do Instead
Find a socialization-based puppy class for your puppy. Puppy training classes are designed to help dog owners socialize their puppies in a safe environment. The area should be disinfected and disease-free. Training your puppy early is always a good idea, but allowing your pup to tumble and run around with other puppies is priceless.4
You’re also free to take your puppy out and about to friend’s houses and places where you are certain the dogs are vaccinated. If that makes you squeamish, invite a steady stream of friends and friendly dogs(that you know are vaccinated) over for socialization time.
Avoid These Dog Grooming Activities
When you first bring your puppy home, you may be tempted to draw a nice bath for them right away. But some breeders and vets recommend you hold off on bathing them for the first few weeks. Bathing your puppy too soon or too frequently can:
- Mess with your dog’s internal temperature, which might make them sick5
- Strip the natural oils from your pet’s coat and cause skin irritation6
- Interfere with your puppy’s vaccination schedule. Veterinarians recommend waiting to bathe your pup for 1-2 weeks after a vaccine.
What To Do Instead
Check your pup’s vaccination schedule and make a plan for the puppy’s first bath. You’ll want to make sure the water and the room are warm. But be careful not to make the water too hot. Use a gentle dog shampoo. Avoid using any shampoo made for humans or babies. After the bath, make sure you completely dry your pup before you set them loose on their own.
You can dry them gently with a towel and then if you need to, use the cool setting on a hairdryer. If they seem frightened by the hairdryer, let them be.
Keep in mind that this first bath will set the tone for future baths. Do your best to make it a calm, relaxing, stress-free experience. Don’t forget to reward your puppy with plenty of treats and praise throughout the bathing/drying process.7
Avoid Harsh Dog Training Methods
It’s smart to get started on training a puppy as early as possible. Using positive reinforcement to show your puppy how to do things like “sit” and “stay” is a great relationship-builder. In the case of a young puppy, treats and praise are great. Harsh corrections, like finger-pointing, or yelling, however, are not.
While your puppy is young, building trust and a positive relationship is the most important thing to focus on. If your puppy can’t figure out how to sit 100% of the time, it’s not the end of the world. The last thing you want to do is make your puppy afraid of you.
What To Do Instead
The best way to train a puppy is to show them exactly what you want them to do and give them a reward when they do it. This is the basis of positive reinforcement training. Remember, your puppy doesn’t know anything you haven’t taught them yet. There’s no use in getting mad and yelling about something that they don’t yet understand.
It can be hard to remain calm and use only positive reinforcement, especially when you’re working on things like leash or potty training. Seeing your puppy poop inside can make even the most zen person raise their voice. Resist. Set up a crate training plan, and limit your puppy’s environment to avoid accidents until they can be trusted.
If you have any concerns or just want some help training your puppy, reach out to a professional dog trainer or join puppy training classes. Check to see if your local pet store has puppy classes or ask your vet to recommend a good trainer.
Avoid These Foods And Drinks
When you first get a puppy, you may be tempted to feed it your favorite foods to see what they might like. As a new dog owner, you’ll have to learn the dos and don’ts of feeding your dog people food. Here’s a partial list of foods you should never feed a puppy or adult dog:
- Apple seeds
- Cat food
- Cooked bones
- Corn on the cob
- Fat trimmed from meat
- Grapes or raisins
- Milk and dairy products
What To Do Instead
Avoid giving your pup any people food. Instead, get them high-quality dog food that contains all-natural ingredients and is free from chemicals and fillers. Look for real ingredients that you recognize, like turkey, beef, salmon, and sweet potatoes. Better quality food will lead to a better quality of life for your pup.9
You Got This
When you’re a new dog owner, the number of things you need to learn can feel overwhelming. Just remember to be gentle, kind, and attentive to your new baby. After all, they are just that – babies who are growing and learning.
And if you ever have concerns or questions about raising your new pup, don’t hesitate to contact your vet or dog trainer.