Puppy 101: Essential Tips for First-Time Dog Owners from a Six-Time Puppy Mom

border collie puppies

Written by Andrea Gatley

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Hey there, fellow dog lovers! It’s Andrea, back on the DogDogDog blog. Today, I’m sharing some of my hard-earned wisdom from raising six puppies over the years. Yes, you read that right, six! If you’re a first-time puppy parent, you’re in the right place. We’re going to cover everything from basic puppy supplies to house training and more. So, let’s dive in!

Bringing Your Puppy Home: The Right Age

First things first, when should a puppy join your family? Ideally, puppies should be at least eight weeks old before they leave their mom and littermates. This gives them crucial socialization time and helps ensure they’re weaned and ready for a new home. Many breeders will insist on twelve weeks to give them additional time to “learn how to dog” with help from their mom and their siblings.

Settling In: Patience is Key

Bringing a new puppy home is a big change for both of you. It usually takes a few weeks for a puppy to settle into their new environment, so be patient, provide lots of love and reassurance, and remember that this is a big adjustment for your little furball.

Puppy Supplies: The Basics

Before your puppy arrives, you’ll want to stock up on some essentials. This includes:

  • A crate and/or puppy playpen
  • Food and water dishes
  • High-quality puppy food
  • Chew toys (trust me on this one)
  • A comfortable bed
  • A leash and collar

Training: Start Early, Stay Consistent

When it comes to training, the earlier you start, the better. You can begin with simple commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’. Remember, consistency is key, and always use positive reinforcement. And don’t forget about socialization – it’s just as important as obedience training! A word of advice here as well… socialization doesn’t mean “meet everyone you can,” it means “expose your puppy to as many weird and unusual sights and sounds as you can.” If your pup learns that things that sound or look scary really aren’t scary, you’re doing it right. What a puppy learns now will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Food: Fuel for Growth

Puppies grow fast, and they need the right nutrition to support that growth. Choose a high-quality puppy food, and feed your puppy several small meals a day. Don’t feed your pup adult dog food; it has the wrong ratios of protein and other nutrients and can cause serious growth issues in your new puppy. Look for the AAFCO label to make sure the food meets your puppy’s nutritional needs. And remember, treats are great for training, but they should make up no more than 10% of your puppy’s daily caloric intake.

Crate Training and Playpens: Safe Spaces

Crate training can be a great way to give your puppy a safe space and help with house training. But remember, the crate should always be a positive place, never a punishment. Playpens can also be a great way to keep your puppy safe when you can’t supervise them.

House Training Basics

House training is one of the first things you’ll want to work on with your new puppy. The key is to establish a routine, take them out frequently (especially after meals), and reward them when they do their business outside. Puppy pads can be used as a backup for those times when you can’t be home, but remember; the goal is to get your puppy comfortable with going outside.

Raising a puppy is a big job, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. Remember, every puppy is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Stay patient, stay positive, and remember to enjoy this special time – they’re only puppies once! As always, we’re here to support you on your journey of pet parenthood. Happy puppy raising, everyone!

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