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Bringing Your New Puppy Home

by Geoffrey English

Can you guess which puppy is the Alpha dog in this litter?
Photo by: Author
Alright, the big day is finally here. If you’re like most new dog owners you have been counting down the days since you have made the big decision to bring a new puppy into your home. Are you ready? Rest assured, if you’re not, you’re not alone. Through this article I hope to accomplish two goals. First, let’s make your home a safe environment for your new puppy. Second, I’d like to give you a concrete set of techniques you can use to begin teaching your puppy to be a good citizen in his/her new home.

Most new puppy owners underestimate just how much mischief their little four legged friend can get into in a few short minutes alone. I cannot tell you how many stories I hear of “Missy” ruining an expensive Italian-made pair of leather dress shoes. My standard reply is, “Did you leave these shoes in a place where she could get to them?” To which they sheepishly answer, “Well, yea… I just thought…”. “Wow, those sure are expensive chew toys you’re leaving for your new puppy.” The point is this: When left alone, even for a few short minutes, a young puppy, with his razor-sharp teeth can ruin or destroy furniture, carpeting, etc. Worse yet, it only takes a single chew on a lamp cord to harm and electrocute your new puppy.

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

The simplest technique for puppy-proofing your home is to go about it the same way you would when making a home safe for a young child, except pay closer attention to items that a puppy can chew or scratch. Consider anything left on the floor or within reach of the puppy “fair game”. If you take a minute to look around your house, you should immediately see items that a young dog can chew on / destroy, or even worse, be harmed by. If you have not owned a puppy before, get down on your hands and knees and view your home from the puppy’s vantage point. Electrical cords, cabinet corners, carpeting, and shoes lying around are all in plain view of your new companion.

The simplest technique to teach a young dog what he is allowed to chew and what he isn’t is to issue a stern “NO” command and then replace the item he is chewing with an acceptable chew toy while praising him for changing his behavior. During this period, the puppy will be drilled many times on the “NO” command. It is very important to apply praise when you get the desired change in behavior. Make sure you have hard chew toys or rawhide handy when your puppy is loose so you can quickly make the correction and stop the undesirable behavior. Soon he will realize that he can only chew on the items you give him -- toys. Be consistent in your approach. Don’t allow him to chew on one pair of sneakers and not another, that is sending mixed signals to the dog that will prolong the process.
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