They may be small, but new puppies can be big work. So much so, that the second you tell someone you’re getting a dog, the advice comes pouring in. “I think you get more advice when you walk down the street with a puppy than you do with a child,” says New York-based pet trainer and author, Andrea Arden. We asked Arden for her five top tips for welcoming a new puppy into your home:
1. Get lots of toys
“A puppy, no matter what size, age or breed is going to have a lot of energy,” says Arden, who recommends having plenty of toys around the house to keep your pup busy and out of trouble. A toy that can be stuffed with food keeps puppies busy by encouraging them to hunt for their meals, and burns calories at the same time. Arden suggests keeping five to ten toys on hand. Remember, she says, “a nice tired puppy is a wonderful puppy.”
2. Create a confinement area
“There’s a misconception about crating or confining your pet,” says Arden. “It’s not cruel. We use confinement to keep pets safe, like we do with children. If you were a visitor at someone’s home, you wouldn’t want to be set free to explore the home to then be reprimanded for going somewhere or touching something you weren’t supposed to. It’s the same with your new dog.”
Arden advises puppy owners to purchase a crate that’s an appropriate size for your pooch to stand up in, lie down, and turn around comfortably. This is meant to be used as a short-term confinement area. If you need to leave your pup alone for a stretch of time, consider an exercise pen – similar to a baby pen. Such pens give puppies more room while keeping them in one place.
3. Forget the doggy bed, use a towel instead
New dog owners don’t necessarily need to invest in a doggy bed right away, says Arden, who recommends using an easy-to-clean towel during the first few months. “I usually offer a puppy bed when the dog is five or six months old.”
4. Get a (good) collar and leash
“Ideally, you’ll have one of three collars – a plain buckle nylon collar, a Martingale collar that’s fitted to your puppy’s collar (especially good for Italian Greyhounds) or an Easy Walk or SENSE-ation harness,” says Arden. The two harnesses have a front leash attachment design and don’t pull on your dog as much. For leashes, the trainer recommends a 3-to-6-foot nylon style. Retractable leashes are better suited for older dogs who have already been trained.
5. Groom early and often
Start good grooming habits early with your puppy. “Clip a nail a day just so he gets used to the sensation,” says Arden. Buy a toothbrush or rubber tip for your finger and brush your pup’s teeth every day with pet safe toothpaste. Arden also recommends using unscented baby wipes to clean his paws every time you come in from outside. And remember to bathe your new pup in pet-safe shampoo and conditioner every two to three weeks.