Puppies are so joyful and fun that you may spend a lot of the time just playing and cuddling on your first days together. Although these are essential factors in raising a puppy, there are other things that you need to do during the first weeks with your new family member.
Establishing a routine can help you and your puppy adjust to life together. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, a regular schedule can help you stay on track. Establishing a plan will make your training efforts more efficient and create a safe and happy environment for your puppy.
A routine will revolve around both your schedule and the care required for your puppy. Both of your needs must be equally met to ensure that a schedule works in the long run. From setting a firm bedtime to choosing the right natural dog food formulas for feeding time, here are a few things that you can do to create a schedule for your puppy that works:
A puppy needs plenty of nutritious meals to grow into a healthy adult. You may be only feeding your adult dogs once or twice a day, but puppies need to have several meals throughout the day. Providing three meals instead of two is the best way to keep puppies’ bellies full and allow natural digestion.
The good news is that you can schedule your feeding times around your meals. The three meal a day schedule should stay in place for the first 4-5 months, and then the lunchtime meal can be slowly reduced in size and eventually eliminated.
When you start to reduce the noon meal, the process should be slow. Don’t just take away a meal and expect your puppy to adapt instantly. Start by lowering the lunch meal by increments. If you are feeding a cup of food, try reducing the serving by a quarter cup first, and continue to remove another quarter cup as time goes on.
Over about one month, you can wean your puppy off the lunch meal entirely. If your puppy is asking for food, you can supplement with a few low-fat treats or a micro-sized serving to hold them over as they get used to the new schedule.
Commands and Keywords
Communicating with your puppy is something that you should start right away. In the beginning, keep commands and keywords simple. Phrases of praise like “good boy” or disciplinary keywords like “no” should be introduced immediately. Try to use the same words and commands so that you don’t confuse your puppy.
Get the whole family on board with the keywords and commands you will use to maintain some consistency. Choose a word like “potty” or “go outside” when it’s time for a bathroom break and use the same expression each time so your puppy will understand.
Once your puppy is old enough, it’s always a good idea to enroll them in a puppy training program. This will help both you and your puppy learn some new behaviors and address any developing before becoming an ingrained habit.
Training your puppy will include setting some house rules. It is up to each owner what the restrictions will be for their puppy. Some owners don’t mind allowing their pets on the furniture or in the bed, where others may want to limit this kind of activity. It’s essential to lay out the rules right off the bat. Your puppy will learn where their boundaries are early and make it easy for them to adjust to their new home.
Consistency is the best way to make your puppy comfortable and training easier. Talk with all the family members about the house rules and make sure that everyone is on board. You will run into problems if one person allows your puppy to do certain activities, and then they are disciplined by another family member for the same behavior.
Boundaries in your home include more than just behavior. Physical limitations are also important to establish right from the start. You may have certain rooms in your home that you would rather remain pet-free. Make sure that your puppy knows where they are allowed to be and where they are restricted.
As your new puppy gets used to their new home, setting up physical boundaries using gates can help them ease into their new home. A playpen or single room at the beginning is enough space to help them get used to their new home. As they get older, you can start removing these boundaries out further and let them explore slowly.
Your puppy has a small bladder without the muscular control to hold their pee much longer than a few hours. You should be taking your puppy out for potty time every 1-3 hours when they are young. Setting a schedule of when you will go out helps to train your puppy that these are the appropriate time to go and can eliminate many accidents.
A general rule to follow to determine how often your puppy will need to go out is to divide their age by two. For example, if your puppy is four months old, they will have to go out every two hours. As they get older, the time between potty breaks will start to get longer.
A puppy is a 24/7 commitment. Just because it’s time for you to go to bed doesn’t mean that your puppy will control their bladder all night. Although your puppy will be able to hold their bladder longer at night when they are sleeping, you should be prepared to get up during the night for a potty break.
If you have to leave the house for work every day, it’s recommended that you hire a pet sitter or enlist a family member to help out with potty breaks. It’s not fair or good for establishing habits to leave your puppy for long periods without a proper potty break.
If you are using puppy pads to help potty train, you should always lay the pad in the same place. This will teach your puppy that this is the specific area where they can go to the bathroom is necessary. They will know by the smell that this is the place that is safe to go if needed. When you put pads down in different areas in the house, it can be confusing for puppies, and they are more likely to make a mess.
To eliminate a drawn-out potty training, try putting down the pads only at night. As they get older, they will be able to hold it for the whole night. After a few weeks of waking up to dry puppy pads, you can start to remove them at night. Until your puppy is at least six months old, you should keep some puppy pads around just in case you need them.
Exercise and Play
Your puppy is going to be filled with energy and a need to play all the time. Although this excess energy is a sign of a healthy and happy puppy, it can mean that your puppy can get into mischief when they don’t get enough exercise and play to burn it off.
Your first activity of the day, before the first meal, should be some playtime. After breakfast, a short walk for some exercise is a great idea. Puppies tend to sleep a lot, but it’s good to keep them active with regular walks and playtime when they are awake.
Practice playing with different kinds of toys to allow them to burn off their energy. Make sure to allow them to play in different environments that include outdoor play. Getting your puppy used to outdoor play in different weather is also a good idea. You may not want to take them out during a rainstorm, but a light shower or letting them play in the snow can be enjoyable for the both of you.
It’s never too early to socialize your puppy with other dogs. Taking a trip to the dog park can help them learn how to play nice with other dogs and build up their confidence. When they are puppies, you should keep a close eye on them or even keep them on their leash, especially when playing with older dogs in case things get too rowdy.
Puppies, just like toddlers, will need a lot of sleep. Young puppies can sleep up to 20 hours a day. When they start to yawn, get lethargic or even start to act out, it’s time for a nap. Place your puppy in their bed, crate or playpen, and let them have a good rest.
Keeping your puppy up all day will only encourage poor behavior and can affect their overall health. As they grow, they will be able to stay up for longer periods in between their naps. Puppies tend to be full of energetic bursts followed by sleepy crashes which is normal. As they grow, they will slip into a regular sleeping and playing schedule.
Bringing a puppy into your home can be as rewarding as it is challenging. Remember that you are the pack leader in charge of the health and happiness of your puppy. Establishing a schedule that includes their mealtime, play, and training can help your puppy successfully adjust to their new home.