Getting your first puppy to join your family is a huge but such a wonderful decision that you can make.
One of the main things to keep in mind as we walk you through what to expect from your puppy in the first 6 months is that if you have ever had children then it is kind-a-like that. They just go through the changes a little quicker.
Which brings me to the first tip and the first few months, baby proofing your home for your new puppy. I can not stress this enough. A puppy will want to put everything in its mouth and will certainly chew on anything left on the floor or in reach.
I even changed my knobs on my entertainment unit so they could not chew them.
You need to ensure that there is nothing in reach including cords. You will need to hide or tie up any loose cords that your puppy maybe able to get access too.
Another great tip for this is to have a designated spot for you puppy to play and or sleep. A play pen is a great option and inexpensive to set up. This allows the puppy to have a space that is safe and you will not have to worry about what your puppy is getting up to every other minute. Just like children when things go quite that’s normally when they are doing something they should not be doing.
For that spot to sleep, well you will need to work this out before you get your puppy. Talk it over with the whole family. The reason for this is that you need to set the boundaries from the start and what ever you decide, you will need to stick with it. As it gets harder to reverse as they get older. It is a good idea to try to setup a space that the puppy will feel safe and happy. You need to also consider those little accidents in the beginning too. Or you may be changing you sheets more often than you like.
First few Months With your Puppy
Your puppy for the first month or so will be restless at night and at times cry out if you have decided to sleep your puppy in the laundry or another room or even outside away from the family. But this is just an adjustment period and if you stay strong and you make the sleeping space enjoyable and a safe place where your puppy wants to be then this will only last a short while.
Which also brings me to Toileting. There is no short cut to this I’m afraid. The only way to get your puppy toilet trained is repetition. Make sure that you are taking your puppy outside to toilet every hour or so. Use a word like pee pee or toilet time so that your puppy gets use to knowing what you want them to do. Very important that once your puppy has gone to the toilet that you make a lot of fuss over them. You want this to be an enjoyable thing, as this will help to get the toilet trained down pack quicker. It is a good idea to also do this after they have eaten and or had a drink of water and just before bed. It puts in a routine for them and you. Trust me this will have your puppy toilet trained in no time.
One tip if you puppy goes inside, do not tell them off or rub their nose in it this will only install fear and set back you training.
Terrible Two’s Phase
Okay, you’ve made through the first few months. Your puppy is growing fast. What I like to call the terrible twos. Your puppy will be pushing the boundaries to see how far they can get away with something and they will be also very curious and start to be interested in the outside world.
This is the time you really need to hone in on training and discipline. You also need to teach your puppy where their boundaries are. Start with puppy school, this will help with socialisation and the basics. Remember that you can’t take your puppy to the park or outside for a walk until they have had all their vaccinations.
Digging will start and you’ll need to make sure that your back yard is secure, so that they aren’t able to go for a walk on their own.
You may need to look at having a secure fenced area for you puppy to be while outside, unless you’re ready for little landscaping and plant removal. You can help to minimise this behaviour by ensuring that you have exercised your puppy before leaving them alone. Having lots of different toys for them to play with especially ones that keep them thinking and occupied like a Kong filled with treats or a bone. If you do give your puppy a bone, keep in mind that it must be raw and not too small that it may cause issues like chocking or getting stuck in your puppies’ teeth causing them discomfort.
This is also the time your puppy may start to bark when you leave them alone. Try to make the experience a happy time and don’t make a fuss over you leaving, its best to make it a non-issue so that they don’t associate a bad time with you leaving.
If the barking continues look at putting a radio on or tv noise where people are talking will help to comfort your puppy and think that there are people home. Also, and this is important do not make a fuss and big deal of them when you return this will only make the situation worse. You want them to not even notice that you have left and returned.
Another tip is to do this in small time slots, like 5 minutes to start with and then extend it each time. This will condition your puppy that when you leave you will return.
Now we are heading into those teenage years, as you puppy gets closer to 6 months of age. These are some great times but also testing. This period of your puppy will be moody and stubborn to say the least. But remember the good times you’ll have with your puppy as well.
You’ll need to really work on your training and patients through these times but like any child they we’ll come out the other side a well-adjusted and well-trained dog. Make sure that you have signed them up and taking them to obedience class, which is a great way to help your puppy to gain confidence and skills, as well as give them lots of positive socialising experience.
At this age they will be also trying to climb the ladder of the hierarchy in the home. So, make sure that you and the other members of the household show your puppy that they are above them. They need to join in with training and establishing that they are above the puppy in the hierarchy of the family. Again, this takes time and consistent training. A great way to enforce this is by making sure that all members of the human family are feed before you feed your puppy at all stage of life.
It is really important that you and all members of the family are doing positive reinforcement training. It well documented just like children that puppies respond better and learn quicker with positive training. Yelling and getting anger with your dog will not work and training will only take longer. Ensure that you are still including ongoing classes with other dogs and other people, its the best way to keep your growing pup happy, healthy, and well-socialised and have no fear of other dogs or other people.
Puppy Reaches 6 Months
You now have made it through the first 6 months, they are now one of the members of the family. But remember that your puppy is still young and will not be an adult until around the 2 year’s old mark in most cases. And for this reason, it’s important to keep you the training and socialisation as your puppy is still learning and can very quickly forget most training if it is not kept up or reinforced. Sorry no slacking off on this front.
Feeding your puppy can also be confusing, especially when you want to ensure that you are doing everything right for your new family member. For some great and healthy treats that are also inexpensive to make for your fury friend check out our post on Doggy Treats. But also keep an eye out for upcoming post where we dive deep into what and how much to feed your dog at all stages of life.