Lauren & Banks: The Ultimate Guide to Your New Puppy
Posted by Lauren Gwinn on 30th April 2019
Congratulations on your new puppy! They’re cute, squishy,
roly-poly, and have that sweet puppy breath (and razor sharp teeth!) But what
now? How do we turn this little ball of happy energy, into a well-mannered,
socialized, man’s best friend? Puppies are not easy! They don’t come ready to
go “out of the box.” The work you put in is exactly what you will get out.
I was lucky enough to add another Vizsla puppy to my pack recently, and it’s been a completely new experience the second time around.
Banks came from a reputable breeder. If you’re looking for a breeder of ANY breed, I strongly encourage you to
contact the national parent club of that breed, typically (insert breed here) club
of America, and ask for reputable breeders that follow that breeds code of
ethics, that bred specifically for temperament, health, and function. When I
brought Banks home, he had been thoroughly socialized, temperament
tested/matched to my family, was completely potty trained, crate trained, and
was extremely happy and healthy! This not only made our lives easier, but it
laid the foundation for the well-mannered, socialized, friendly, best friend
that I now have. We have been bonding over all sorts of training, from field
and bird dog work, conformation (show), to simple yard and house training, but
mostly, over the outdoors. Banks has been my hiking and camping partner (he
rode in my Kurgo G-Train dog carrier backpack as a little puppy), since we brought him
home at 10 weeks. There is no better way to strengthen and create the bond
between you and your puppy than to explore together!
Not every puppy comes from the most ideal situation, but how
we set them up to succeed is what will make the biggest difference in their
future. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve put together since bringing Banks
home. I hope they can make the first few months with your new puppy go
Puppy Proof your
house! With Banks, we rolled up our rugs for a few weeks, made sure shoes
were picked up off of the floor, and were diligent about picking up socks,
clothes, bags, and more. Make sure you set your puppy up to succeed!
Tether your puppy to
you in the house at all times! A young puppy shouldn’t have free reign of
the house until they’re understanding of rules and boundaries (and potty
trained!). I used the Kurgo Quantum Leash for a hands-free tether with Banks.
Potty Training: Set
a schedule and stick to it! I took Banks outside every 15 minutes, and after
every meal. Your puppy will likely need to use the bathroom during the night,
make sure you use the time to ONLY go to outside, and not as a playtime. I
would take Banks out of the crate without talking to him or encouraging
excitement. We went outside, and he went directly back into the crate (he did
get a few snuggles first though!)
puppy should be eating at least 3 times per day while they’re young. Hand feeding
encourages soft mouths and can discourage biting. It’s also an amazing way to
strengthen your bond. I love to use feeding time to do short 5 minute training
sessions with Banks! Feeding in the crate is a great way to promote crate
training and make it a more positive place. Puzzle toys and snuffle mats are
also great ways to burn some of that puppy energy!
Make sure you get your puppy to your new veterinarian within the first 48 hours
of bringing them home for a wellness check. The vet will go over general care
and preventative care with you, ensuring a healthy life for your new puppy!
Together you can also decide on the vaccine schedule you want to follow.
Crate Training: This
is one of the most important steps to take when bringing a new puppy home!
Playing crate games, feeding in the crate, and using rewards and short spurts
in the crate will all encourage puppies to love their own safe place. Crate
training will also make potty training a breeze, as well as keep your puppy
safe from all of the dangers of chewing and getting into things they shouldn’t
around your house! We trained Banks to sleep in his crate (most of the time),
so that if we are away on a trip, he always has a safe place in different
environments. Keeping the crate covered, and giving special treats (Banks loves
frozen peanut butter stuffed toys!), are also easy ways to ensure a positive,
Introducing your puppy
to other dogs in the house: If you have other dogs, socialize them to other dogs and
puppies, so that the transition with the new puppy goes smoothly. The
introduction of your new puppy to your current dogs should be on neutral ground
in a controlled situation, ideally with one adult for every dog. Remember that
puppies learn from being corrected by adult dogs. Do not leave puppies
unattended with your adult dogs.
Safe toys: Stay
away from rawhide, rope, antlers (these are too hard for puppy teeth), or toys
they can easily chew apart and ingest. Banks loves frozen stuffed toys, bully
sticks, no hide chews, dehydrated ears (lamb, rabbit, cow, etc.), and natural
treats. Always supervise when giving new toys, treats, or chews. Puzzle toys
and snuffle mats are always great toys that require a lot of mental stimulation
and will burn some puppy energy!
set your puppy up to succeed, and praise for good behaviors. Shaping is ideal
in puppy training, and it encourages puppies to explore on their own. If your puppy isn’t doing what you want, it is
most likely because you haven’t shown them what it is that you’re expecting of
them. Jumping, biting, or barking may be cute as a little puppy, but
remember that puppy will grow up, and if it won’t be cute for them to do as a
grown adult dog, then don’t allow it as a puppy. My favorite first commands to
teach are “leave it,” “down,” “stay,” “come,” and “place.” We did not teach
Banks to “sit,” as it can interfere with conformation and hunt training.
PLAY! Make sure
you get outside to play and bond with your puppy! Playing a relaxed game of
fetch, taking a walk or rolling around in the grass with your new pup will all
strengthen the bond between you two. Using a flat leash and collar or harness,
take your puppy for a short hike! Be aware that your puppies growth plates are
nowhere near closing, and their little joints and muscles cannot take a long
walk. Allow them to stop and go as they please. If you’re wanting to bring your
puppy on a longer hike- Kurgo’s G-Train dog carrier backpack is perfect for strapping them
in and taking them on the go!
you take away anything from reading this, I hope it is the importance of
socializing your new puppy. It is our
job as new owners to make sure we fill our puppy’s little minds up with
positive social situations! The primary and most important time for puppy
socialization is within the first three months of life. Acknowledging this, the
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the
standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are
fully vaccinated. Their position statement on puppy socialization is worth a read.
Now this does not mean you should take your puppy to the dog park, or somewhere
you know there have been many dogs who are not vaccinated! Enrolling in a puppy class (as
early as 8 weeks according to AVSAB, with a minimum of one set of vaccines at
least 7 days prior to the first class, and staying up to date throughout the
class), is a perfect place to improve training, strengthening your bond, and
socializing puppies in an environment where risk of illness is minimized. Banks
and I also love to frequent dog friendly stores (always call your local store
before going to check if they’re dog friendly). We've been to Lowes, TJ Maxx, Academy
Sports, Home Goods, and some great breweries and restaurants together. You can find a more
thorough list in your area through a google search. Socialization also occurs
in your home. Inviting neighbors, friends, family, and trusted dogs over will
continue to build their positive experiences. Things such as running the vacuum, playing the
radio, or taking them in the car all during those first three months of life
will really set them up for success as they grow.
What else have you found that helped you get
through the puppy stages? Let us know below!
Lauren Gwinn is a writer and photographer and runs Palmetto Moon Pointers, a blog about hiking, backpacking, and travel with dogs. You’ll find her in the mountains, or on the back of her horse, always with her two Vizslas, Sutton & Banks, and border collie/Heeler mix, Deuce, by her side! Follow her adventures @palmettomoonpointers on Instagram and visit her blog: http://palmettomoonpointers.
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