5 things you should know before getting a puppy

The teething stage is a nightmare

Puppies explore with their mouths and need to chew as their teeth grow. Unfortunately this means that your fingers, hands, arms, jumpers, trousers, chair legs, skirting board, sofa, etc take the brunt of it.

Some puppies are really good with not chewing furniture and others seem more drawn to it, but either way your puppy will need to chew and their teeth are like needles.

It can seem like it’s never going to end and is completely normal to feel like your puppy is attacking you / being aggressive / hates you. They don’t, they’re just being a puppy.

Top Tip: Have lots of items for your puppy to chew and change these items each day to keep them interested. Also only fuss your puppy once they have something in their mouth and if they drop it then encourage them to get it or walk away. They will soon come running to you with their toy in their mouth rather than running to you and grabbing you! Also ensure your puppy is getting enough sleep, a tired puppy = a mouthy puppy. Frozen kongs, wet tea towel frozen, a variety of soft and hard toys, all help.

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You will lose sleep

At 8 weeks old most puppies won’t be able to go through the night without needing a toilet and it’s important for their toilet training that you get up and let them out when they need to go to avoid accidents in the house. Therefore your first few weeks are likely to be full of broken nights, which can feel pretty tough. If you work full-time (not sure what you are doing with the puppy while you’re at work?!) then I’d suggest booking the first week off at least, firstly so you can spend lots of time settling your puppy in but also so you can recover from a disturbed night in the day. Even once your dog is toilet trained they will have the odd night when they need to get up and go out, just like we sometimes wake in the night needing a wee (I’m not that old but it still happens to me!).

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They will wee and poo in your house

Puppies don’t come toilet trained. You will need to teach there where to go and no matter how on it you are they are bound to have an accident once or twice.

Keeping your puppy restricted to rooms with hard flooring only at first (if you have any) can reduce the carpet stains and let your puppy out for a toilet every half an hour, when they have just woken up from a sleep, when they have had a big play, when they have had a drink, when you see them excessively sniffing or circling. Give your puppy a treat each time they toilet outside and say a command such as “go busy” as they toilet.

You can get some really good products for cleaning any accidents which helps remove the smell and reduce stains.

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They don’t speak English

This sounds obvious but the amount of people you hear shouting “no no no” at a puppy expecting them to magically understand and stop what they are doing. You may as well be shouting “keep going keep going” for all the difference it will make. Equally so don’t try telling your puppy sit, off, get down, come or calling their name over and over and over again if they haven’t already learnt them.

You need to learn to speak dog and use things that the puppy wants to reward good behaviour so they are more likely to repeat what they did. Ignoring anything you don’t like or distracting them away from it will teach them that those thing aren’t worth repeating.

Spend time with your dog and get to know them, find out how they like to play and be fussed but also teach them what to like so they can interact with your suitably. Try to keep your mouth shut until your they know what you mean.

Top Tip: To teach a dog a command say the word once at the same time the dog is doing the behaviour then give them a reward, e.g. if they dog sits then say “sit” and quickly reward. Once you have said sit and rewarded enough times the dog will learn to associate that word with that action.

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Just as you are thinking they are trained they will do something wrong

Adolescence is a bitch… your sweet, lovely, nice puppy who has finished teething and comes back when called suddenly turns in to an independent little know-it-all. They start ignoring commands that you know they understand and they run off on walks.

Take a breath, keep calm, and go back to basics. Keep reinforcing good behaviours and prevent them from practising the bad ones.

Dogs are always growing and changing and I’d say they’re never “perfectly trained”, you need to keep working with them, keep interacting with them and most importantly work on building a strong, positive bond with your dog.

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Put the effort in at the start and it’ll be worth it

The puppy stage doesn’t last for ever, in the long run your dog that may live until 10+ year olds is only a puppy for 12 months of that period. Enjoy this young, cute (if not annoying) stage and concentrate on playing, interacting with and training them while they are young. Build the good habits now and more quickly you will have a well-behaved, well-mannered dog. If you don’t want your dog on the sofa then don’t let the young puppy on the sofa just because they’re cute and they want attention.

Don’t give up, be patient and try to enjoy all the positives.

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