So, you’ve decided to adopt/rescue a new puppy. Congratulations; the canine population thanks you for your contribution! Probably one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have, this decision you’ve made will continue to benefit you for years to come.
Now- what to do from here? First, before anything else, understand no puppy should be separated from either mother or litter prior to four weeks at the absolute earliest. This is a crucial time when puppies both develop important social skills with brothers and sisters that will last the rest of their lives, and also get important nutrients from mother’s milk.
Step 1: Social Skills & Socialisation
You can continue to work on your puppy's social skills from the minute you step out of your car! Out of every single training skill you will ever work on with your dog, socialisation is by far the most important. Proper socialisation is what separates a friendly, happy dog, always overjoyed to play and greet others, from a fearful dog that hides from strangers- or worse, lashes out in defense.
It’s always easiest to start socialising any dog during puppyhood. Introduce your new puppy to family, children, and strangers. Don’t forget other pets! Make sure every encounter is a happy one by providing plenty of enthusiastic praise along with toys and treats.
Step 2: Potty Training
This is usually one of the first things new pet owners think of after taking their puppy home. Potty training is a simple process if done consistently with constant supervision!
Keep in mind- both your puppy's mind and bladder are still developing. He’s not going to catch on right away and accidents will happen, no matter how experienced of a trainer you are. With consistency, constant supervision and praise, your pup will have it down before you know it!
Step 3: Vaccinations
Vaccinations are an important part of raising your puppy, just like they are for human children. Though there are several you should consider, canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus (which causes infectious hepatitis) and canine parvovirus are core vaccines that should be administered to every puppy every three years, according to the Australian Veterinary Association. You might also talk with your veterinarian about:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica
- Kennel Cough
Step 4: Walking Your Puppy
Depending on the age, your puppy might be a little uncoordinated at first (like a human toddler), but this won’t last long. He also might not be able to walk very fast, so remember to slow down for him!
You can introduce the leash and collar (preferably harness at that age) any time you want. If they can walk, they can meet the leash. Again, proper training is going to take time- especially if your young pup’s brain is still developing!
Collars apply pressure on the neck and trachea; it is especially important to avoid this with a puppy. By no means should you use slip collars or prong collars on young puppies.
Step 5: Crate Training
Most people think of potty training when it comes to the crate, and it certainly can be very useful. More importantly, a properly sized dog crate keeps your puppy safe when you can’t observe him. Like small children, puppies will put absolutely anything in their mouths, and nothing is off limits as far as chewing. Electrical wiring can pose a special danger.