What You Need to Know About the First 6 Months with Your Puppy
Adopting a new puppy is exciting and fun for individuals as well as for families. There is, however, a lot to do during the first six months with your puppy. These are a few tips you can use during your puppy’s initial homecoming, and important milestones to look for. Being well prepared, and patient, will help you and your new friend have an easy transition. It will also help create a healthy and long-lasting bond between you and your pup. Here’s what you need to know about the first 6 months with your puppy:
1. First Month
The first month is usually the hardest. It is when everyone is unsure of their responsibilities, needs, and expectations. During this time you will want to stock both a travel and a home crate with food, water, blankets, and favorite toys.
Something unusual, but vital, is including an item that smells like their birth mother or littermates. This will keep him calm in the car, to the vet, and at home. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve established a set sleeping place for your new puppy the very first night.
Establish Bathroom Requirements
On the first day your puppy comes home, you will want to make sure they go to the bathroom outside before entering the home. This will establish initial bathroom requirements and will give them more time to meet their new family before having to use the bathroom again.
Don’t forget to give them plenty of praise, and a bit of kibble, after they have successfully used the bathroom outside. Repeat this positive reinforcement every time after as well. This will help get potty training your puppy off to a good start.
Schedule a Vet Appointment
Once there is some downtime, schedule a veterinarian appointment within 48 hours of your puppy coming home. Although the shelter or breeder has kept vaccines and health updated, you should continue with these healthy habits. Plus, your vet will want to establish a baseline for your puppy for future puppy wellness visits.
Establish Feeding Habits
Establish feeding habits during this first month. Be it free-feed or scheduled feedings, you should make them as regular as possible. This will prevent any stress or anxiety for you and your pup. When you can, you should hand-feed your new friend.
This will help you establish your place in the pack. And for your pup to not bite the hand that feeds him. If able, do this every time you feed your dog. After every feeding, you should take your puppy outside for a bathroom break and playtime. This will help reinforce a schedule and good behavior.
2. Second Month
Socialize Your Puppy
Now that your puppy has an idea of what is expected of them, it is time to socialize with your family and friends. As a result, your dog will be friendly to anyone you know and will remain calm as changes occur.
Once they have human socialization under their collar, you may want to consider socializing them with other animals slowly. Over time, you’ll be able to take them to dog parks regularly and organize play dates. Just make sure you and your dog both follow common dog park etiquette!
Establish Petting Rules
This is a good time to establish petting rules. You should begin touching your dog’s paws, ears, and tail. After some time, they will be comfortable with being touched in these areas and will be less likely to bite when touched. This can also be helpful in getting your puppy used to regular grooming tasks.
Scheduled Bathroom and Play Breaks
Continue having scheduled bathroom and play breaks. You may want to keep having later night and earlier morning breaks as well as regular ones that you hope to establish. Then, your pup will be less likely to have an accident or be uncomfortable throughout the night.
After you have established potty and feeding rules, it is time to really dive into training. Unless you have trained dogs before, or have other forms of experience, going to a professional trainer or enrolling in puppy training classes is a good idea. They will instill the confidence you need to train your dog and will make the logistics of the task easier overall. Plus, they also often offer opportunities for socialization with other dogs and new people.
3. Third Month
Continue with regularly scheduled training sessions with your dog. This can be on your own as well as with a trainer. You want your puppy to know to trust you and the trainer. You will want to focus on some of the basic commands every dog should know such as “sit”, “stay”, and “no”.
While working on typical training, you should also focus on leash training and teaching your puppy the property’s boundaries. Then, they will be comfortable on a leash and in your backyard.
Dealing with Teething
In this month, your puppy is likely to start teething. You should begin hiding your shoes and purchase toys that are specifically designed for teething puppies. Trust us, you’ll be happy you did. Plus, you’ll want to learn more about puppy teething, so you know what’s normal, what’s not normal, and how to help your pup when their mouth is sore.
Establishing the “Pack”
After investing in new toys and establishing commands, you will also want to let the puppy know where they stand in the pack. As a result, they will understand what is expected of them and they will be less likely to try to establish dominance.
All the while you will want to continue using positive reinforcement. This will keep you and your puppy confident in your role as leader of the pack and you will not lose valuable bonding or respect.
4. Fourth Month
During this time in your puppy’s life, they will begin to question rules and boundaries. To keep them from becoming too vexing, you should consider buying baby gates, fences, and continue leash training. Then, the rules will remain clear even as they try to “explore.”
Spaying or Neutering
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time for your pooch to be spayed or neutered. Though they may be a bit loopy after the procedure or unsure of what happened, they will be easier to care for in the long run. Spaying or neutering your pet can help them become calmer, have less anxiety, and they will not go through the trials of being in heat if they are a female.
Now is the perfect time to establish who will be your go-to puppy sitter and ask people if they will be willing to watch your pup. You should establish what they will need if and when you go on a trip or vacation. People are more likely to say yes when looking at an adorable small puppy than when they are full-grown.
5. Fifth Month
Right now, you should continue training your pup with and without a professional trainer. You will be able to move on to more complex commands and cater them to you and your dog’s needs.
Consider a Short Road Trip
You should also consider taking your dog on a short road trip. This could be a quick hike or to the beach. Then you will learn what makes your pup comfortable in the car or what makes them nervous. Then, you can move and plan around your dog to make them as comfortable as possible during road trips. Eventually, they may really dig it!
You may want to consider training your puppy to enjoy photo ops as well. Nowadays, people are constantly snapping, tweeting, and showing off their puppy on social media. Make sure to have a handful of kibble with you every time you wish to take a picture of your puppy. They will be much more willing to comply.
If you’re still having trouble getting a good picture, try some of these other tips for how to take your dog’s picture. Eventually, you’ll find the right fit for you and your dog!
Adjusting the transition from home to park is another important lesson you and your pup will have to learn. When leaving the park to head home, your dog may protest. Be sure to have a bag full of kibble in your pocket to coax them back home or offer another positive reinforcement like belly rubs, cuddles, etc. so they know that they will be rewarded when they are home.
Dealing with Night Crying
Night crying may still be common at five months. If this is the case, there are a few ways to combat it. If you have a crying pup, you may want to have their bed in the bedroom with you or right outside your door. That will help them feel safe and secure.
You should also give them a reliable sleeping schedule so they know when it is time for bed. You can always give your pup plenty of exercise throughout the day as well. Then, they will be too tuckered out to try to bark or whine for your attention.
6. Sixth Month
Introduce more complex toys into your dog’s crate or play area. During this time, they will continue learning and challenging themselves even while you’re not at home.
When possible, schedule your pup’s first grooming. This ensures they will be able to properly shed their puppy fur and will be more comfortable as the seasons change.
Update Crate and Bedding
Finally, your pup is sure to have grown in the last six months. It may be time to update their crate and bedding. They will appreciate the extra space!
Puppies can be a lot of fun and a wonderful learning experience for children and adults alike. Be sure to prepare your family and home for your new furry friend well before you decide to adopt or buy a puppy. From there, do plenty of research on possible shelters, rescues, breeders, and breeds. Then, you will be as prepared as possible.