First Time Puppy Parents: What to Expect
Congrats on growing your family! A puppy brings so much joy, fun, and happiness… along with some frustration and “uh-ohs.”
Puppies require a lot of work, time and attention, but not to worry, we’ve got you covered: Here’s what to expect when you’re expecting a puppy!
Just like with a toddler, a puppy needs a safe space to eat, sleep, and play. Also just like a toddler, puppies can find mischief anywhere! Proof your house by hiding electrical cords, taking up any vintage or pricey rugs, and setting aside a space solely for your new pup to have quiet time. Sit on the floor and look around: At your puppy’s height, is there anything fragile an exuberant tail could knock into? Are there any pieces of furniture or pillows that should be removed temporarily, until teething is finished? Create a safe space where your pup can’t wreck anything you love.
Accidents happen, but the fewer, the better! Ideally, if you’re home, keep your puppy with you, even if that means keeping him on leash. Take him out frequently, and reward outside “business” with treats and praise. Make sure to get outside first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, but also throughout the day after a meal, after a nap, or after a play session. If an accident happens, simply clean it up and resolve to keep a closer eye on your pup. When you’re not home, or overnight, consider crating your pup.
Puppies teethe and one thing to expect: finding teeth around the house! Sure, they chew, but if you puppy-proof and provide plenty of stimulating teething toys, it’s possible to keep your pup from chewing anything inappropriate. That said, be prepared to find those teeth. Another thing to watch for: Some puppies try to teethe on their people. If you feel teeth on skin, yelp like a puppy would and stop play immediately. As soon as your puppy realizes the fun stops when his teeth hit skin, he’ll knock it off.
Feeding and Exercising
Puppies need to eat frequently. Most vets recommend breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if it’s possible with your schedule. And be sure to choose a food that is nutritionally appropriate for puppies.
Keep in mind puppies also need to burn off a ton of excess puppy energy. Make sure you give your pup plenty of leash walks (bonus: this speeds up house training) throughout the day and before bed. Play games like fetch and tug, and provide him with chew toys to work on when you’re not playing. The only caveat: Avoid play sessions right after your pup chows down. He’ll likely need a rest with a full puppy belly, and vigorous play can make him nauseous. Get the fun in before meals, and then immediately after a nap.
Puppies thrive with training. It’s the perfect time to socialize them to strangers, experiences, and other dogs. Join a puppy preschool class at a science-based training facility near you, and your dog will reap the rewards for his entire life!
If you’re prepared and have an idea of what’s to come, it’ll be easier to prepare for and even prevent some common puppy issues. And now that you know what to expect, you can focus on bonding with your new best friend!