Many households welcome a new puppy during the spring and summer, and if your home will be hosting a new furry bundle of joy, let Liberty Veterinary Hospital help you prepare. Here is everything you’ll need to build a puppy problem-solver tool kit, to prevent the most common unwanted behaviors.
Essential items for puppy problem prevention
Who doesn’t love a good shopping list? In addition to cute puppy accessories, you’ll want to ensure you have the following items on hand for successful training, management, and care of your new puppy.
- Your puppy’s crate — Crate training is more than a place to park your puppy—it’s a life skill that builds confidence, coping skills, and comfort. Throughout your puppy’s adult life, confinement will be required for:
- Veterinary care
- Emergency situations
Dogs who stay calm in a crate are more prepared to handle sudden life changes, because they feel safe and secure—rather than nervous and panicked—in their crate or cage. During puppyhood, crating protects your puppy when you cannot supervise them, improves house training, and allows you to manage your puppy’s sleep and activity schedule to ensure peaceful nights for you both.
- Your puppy’s leash and collar — These are perhaps the most basic tools on the list, and may seem a no-brainer—but your puppy’s leash and collar is required for basic restraint, control, and safety. Acclimate your puppy to a lightweight but sturdy collar that includes proper identification. The collar should fit so that your puppy cannot back out or slip away. Brachycephalic (i.e., flat faced) breeds should wear a harness, to prevent injury to their trachea.
Select a lightweight four- to six-foot leash. Although retractable leashes seem ideal for providing exercise and freedom, these devices can seriously injure your puppy, and you. Retractable leashes will not help your puppy learn to stay close on walks, and may encourage them to ignore your commands. For exercise in an unfenced area, use a long line (i.e., a 15- to 20-foot flat or rope leash) and reward your puppy for staying near you.
- Appropriate puppy toys: Puppies naturally use their mouths to explore, and simultaneously experience pain or discomfort from teething. These two rites of passage absolutely require the right toys and chews, to prevent damage to your home or harm to your puppy.
With so many toys to chews from, finding the right toy can feel overwhelming. Let safety and your puppy’s play style (e.g., shredder, snuggler, tugger) be your guide. Additional parameters should include:
- Non-toxic construction
- No small or removable pieces
- Slightly flexible texture, such as natural rubber (e.g., Kong) to protect puppy teeth
- Teething design (e.g., toys with a nubby surface to massage sore gums, or toys you can freeze for a soothing effect)
Always supervise your puppy to ensure appropriate and safe play. Check toys often for damage and immediately discard them.
- Enzymatic cleaner for your puppy’s accidents — Accidents are a natural part of puppy raising, and no matter how quickly or slowly your puppy catches on to the routine, you must never get angry or punish your puppy for an accident. Inappropriate urination or defecation is a reflection of the puppy owner—not the puppy. Respond by thoroughly cleaning up the mess and paying closer attention to your puppy in the future.
Enzymatic cleaners (e.g., Nature’s Miracle) break down and remove the proteins in your pet’s mess, rather than simply deodorizing. Complete removal prevents your puppy from revisiting that site because the area smells like urine or stool.
- Enrichment games to stimulate your puppy’s mind — Exercise is physical and mental. Enrichment games, clicker training, puzzles, and activities engage your puppy’s developing mind, promote critical thinking, and help them satisfy natural behaviors, such as sniffing, exploring, and foraging. These games are more than a parlor trick—regular use and practice can help your puppy feel satisfied, leading to improved behavior, and better sleep for everyone.
Some simple enrichment techniques include:
Essential qualities for successful puppy owners
Some items in your puppy problem-solver tool kit can’t be purchased—but, they’re perhaps the most essential supplies for preventing common puppy behavior problems. These special skills should be gathered in abundance, and must include:
- Patience — Puppies enter this world knowing nothing, and must learn to coexist with human beings, in spite of our inconsistent, confusing, and often bumbling ways. Be patient with your puppy as they learn what’s expected and, as much as possible, try to set them up for success, not catch them doing wrong. Patience and positivity are essential for building a confident canine, so set the right tone from the start.
- Consistency — Dogs thrive on routine, and love knowing what to expect. Creating a consistent schedule for your puppy’s daily activities not only helps with house training, but also helps them feel more comfortable and confident in your home.
- Sense of humor — Puppies are silly, sweet, and endlessly entertaining. When attempting to raise a superb canine companion, don’t forget to find joy in your puppy’s curiosity, laugh at their reactions, and generally enjoy this formative—and funny—time.