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Oregon Family Magazine

10 Ways To Set Yourself Up For New Puppy Success

06/13/2013 ● By Sandy Kauten
Nothing makes a house feel like a home and bonds a family together better than a scampering little bundle of fur, grrs and face-licks.

But let’s keep things real, folks. That sweet, helpless man’s best friend is also an animal with instincts, which need to be channeled, pronto, before your little cutie pie morphs—seemingly overnight—into a weapon of mass home destruction.

So, if you want to keep your home intact tomorrow, do not dally today. Gaze into those puddly, I-will-never-leave-your-side eyes, and promise your little home-wrecker that you will do whatever it takes to keep him and your home puppy-safe.

1. Get a puppy-training crate. Because puppies have endless energy and you don’t, your dog is going to need safe haven. So don’t wait. Get the right size dog crate so your pup can stand up easily with a little room to grow. Until your pup is done teething, an old towel is all he needs for a bed. Best part: you can put your puppy in his crate, leave the room or the house, and know you have temporarily dismantled your little puppy bomb, for a short time, anyway.

2. Straight to the vet. Any animal you bring into your home needs a clean bill of health and several rounds of inoculations to keep it and your family safe. Use the crate to safely transport your pup to the vet. Resist the urge to let your puppy be loose or on your lap in the car. Puppies are usually unfazed by quick trips to the vet for multiple shots in the shoulder and they often sleep longer after they receive their vaccinations.

3. Gate him off. If you let your dog run loose throughout your home, you are asking for trouble. Designate puppy-safe areas indoors, which can be cordoned off, and do not have electrical cords or loose items that could become shock or choking hazards. Kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and laundry rooms work best for a young pup. Think puppy-proof instead of baby-proof.

4. Schedule your alarms. Eventually your pup will be able to make it all the way through the night without any potty breaks. Until then, set an alarm for the amount of time you know he can hold it. Otherwise, you are teaching him how to wake you whenever he wants. When the alarm goes off, scoot that pup straight outside, give the command to go, and praise the results. Then, in the future, every time your pup comes out of his crate, he’ll remember where he’s supposed to go.

5. Meet your best friend’s best friend. Every dog trainer has a magic treat that can get a puppy to do anything she wants. Believe it or not, for most trainers, this treat is freeze-dried liver. You may as well buy a large tub of the beige, chalky stuff for the first six months of your pup’s life. Wield your dried liver wisely and judiciously for good behavior and you will quickly train your savage beast.

6. Buy best quality. If you eat quality food, offer the same to your pup. It may cost a little more, but think of higher-priced, higher-quality food as an investment. Just like an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a couple scoops of high-quality food keep the vet away. Two feedings a day, at daylight and dusk, work well for most families. Your new puppy will also need constant access to fresh, clean water except when he’s asleep in his crate.

7. Go natural. Dogs prefer natural bones and chew things that come from digestible, dehydrated animal parts. Bonus: real bones and animal parts are unlikely to be confused by your pup with everyday household items like slippers, shoes, and stuffed animals. Be especially leery of rawhide chews, no matter how rampant in pet stores, because they do not digest easily. And don’t forget to get bitter before you become bitter, by purchasing Bitter Apple spray to apply to furniture legs, upholstery, or any chewable surfaces within your pup’s reach during teething time.

8. Be ready-for-anything. Things will likely not always turn out the way you would like. And by “things,” I am referring, of course, to pee and poop. If you are prepared for an accident before it happens, you will be less likely to freak if and when it does. So, be prepared for the worst and when the unthinkable happens, try not to over-react. Keep clean-up supplies and enzyme spray at the ready to remove the pee-hither scent from the scene of the crime.

9. Keep cool. You would never hit or scold your child harshly for making a mistake during potty training, right? So when your little guy has a whoopsie, redirect without scolding. Never use physical punishment or yell. Just calmly take your puppy outside to finish the job and then calmly put him in his crate. Clean up the mess without grumbling and spray the spot with enzyme neutralizer to eliminate the likelihood of a repeat.

10. Get ready to play. Make sure your pup gets enough time outside and plenty of exercise even if it’s winter, and you will benefit from less wear and tear on your home and stuff.  A few times a day, let him run loose outside with supervision or take him out on a leash and plan to run a bit yourself. Plenty of fresh air and exercise is good for the whole family and puppies that get enough exercise sleep better, too. And if it’s too cold outside, just get down on the floor and play. When you wear your little guy out before bedtime, you’ll all sleep better.

Enjoy your puppy! He won’t stay little for long. In return, he will provide love and companionship for the whole family.

What To Purchase For Your Pup

If you act quickly, with your heart and your checkbook open, you can help your puppy adjust calmly and safely to your family’s everyday routine. Here’s what you’ll need to keep your puppy safe and happy:

Dog crate

Sturdy food and water bowls

Best quality puppy food

Vet visits

Pet-proof door gate

Enzyme cleaner

Bitter Apple spray

Dehydrated liver

A Gentle Leader leash

Author and journalist Christina Katz knows that sweet puppies turn into even sweeter dogs. Her latest book is The Writer’s Workout from Writer’s Digest Books.