Top tips for new puppy owners

Top tips for new puppy owners

Getting a new puppy is very exciting, but it does not come without its challenges. No matter how prepared you may think you are, you are bound to face some difficulties.

The first few months are the most crucial when it comes to caring for and training a puppy, so these top tips could really come in useful!

Toilet training

It’s a good idea to toilet train your puppy as soon as possible. Take your puppy out first thing in the morning for a toilet break and encourage them to poo and wee outside. It’s best to let your puppy out in the garden without a lead on as it’s too restrictive, however if you’re worried your puppy could escape an extendable lead is a good solution.  

Stay outside with your puppy until they have done their business at which point you can give gentle praise. Avoid leaving your puppy outside in the hope that they will eventually go to the toilet. If they still haven’t gone to the toilet after five minutes, come back inside the house, but keep a very close eye on them. Repeat this process 10 minutes later (and 10 minutes after that if they still haven’t gone) and hopefully your puppy will eventually toilet in the right place. It can be a slow process but your patience will pay off!

Like small children, puppies have small bladders, so expect a few accidents in the first few months. If your puppy does have an accident in the house when you’re not looking, just clean it up calmly. If you catch your puppy in the middle of going, quietly pick them up and pop them outside to see if they can finish what they started in the right place.

During the initial stages of training it’s best not to leave your puppy alone, if you do have to go out, then leave them in the area that they are most comfortable, making sure your puppy has had the chance to exercise and go to the toilet beforehand.  Just in case your puppy needs to go to toilet while you’re out, you should designate a specific area, lining it with newspaper or puppy training padsIdeally, this spot should be near the back door or wherever else you let them outside.

Familiarise your puppy with being handled

As much as we would like to, we can’t cuddle pups all day, however it is important you spend some time handling your puppy so that they don’t get a shock when it’s time for a groom or a trip to the vets. 

Ensuring that you stroke them, as well as touching their paws, head and ears at least once a day will make them more accepting of it.

It’s also a good idea to start brushing their teeth early (between the ages of 8 and 16 weeks). Using one hand, gently lift the upper lip so you can get to the teeth and gums. Start by brushing the molars inside and out cover both sides top and bottom. There are a range of tooth brushes and pastes you can buy that are suitable for puppies. Never use toothpaste for humans as it contains ingredients that could harm your pup. 

Remember to closely supervise your puppy when around children as their attitude towards ‘handling’ may not be as gentle as yours, and your puppy might be less patient.

Introduce them to new dogs

It goes without saying that your puppy should not come into contact with other dogs until they have had all of their vaccinations, but after that, the more socialisation the better!

The earlier you socialise your puppy with other dogs, the more sociable they will be, which can reduce your anxiety when it comes to walking your dog at the park or on the beach.

Begin with other dogs whose temperament you know well, such as close friends and family pets, or in a controlled environment, such as puppy classes.

Many veterinary practices run puppy classes, in which owners can bring their puppies to socialise in safe, supervised and controlled environment. Alternatively, you can ask your vet for specific advice on training and socialising your puppy.

Reward good behaviour

It’s important that your puppy learns what good behaviour is as soon as possible, so you should not delay in rewarding them for doing something that pleases you (such as sitting on command, waiting for food, using the designated toilet area, etc).

This will help them to associate such behaviour with positive outcomes, meaning they are likely to continue to do it.

These rewards should not always be in the form of treats, but perhaps some fuss or a new toy.

Practice separation

Young puppies should not be left alone for too long, but you are going to need to go out to work etc, so it is important that they are happy to do their own thing when you are not around.

Using a baby gate so that your puppy can’t always follow you is a great way to create some separation between you in your home. Ensure you leave them in a cosy area and consider offering them food-dispensing toys to keep them occupied. When they’re sleeping and content, stay away or go into a different room for a while. When they’re concerned, return. Gradually build up the time they are left alone. This teaches your puppy that it is ok to be left alone, and that you are going to return.

If you’re worried your puppy is struggle with anxiety, toys and calming supplements (based on natural proteins or pheromones) collars or home diffusers (all of which can be used together) can help calm reduce feelings of stress.

In spite of the challenges that a new puppy can bring, seeing them grow into a well-behaved and happy dog is one of the most rewarding processes!

Ensure you register your new puppy with your local vet for routine vaccinations and discussions about neutering. If at any time you’re unsure about your puppy’s health, do not hesitate to seek advice from your vet as soon as possible. has a range of puppy products and food, as well as low-cost wormers and flea treatments.

References: Blue Cross