First Time Dog Owners Guide And Checklist

Bringing home a new puppy is always an exciting moment for any first-time dog owner. However, the first 48 hours with a new puppy can be both overwhelming and confusing for first-time dog owners. It’s the time when most people begin to ask, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” This first time dog owners guide and checklist will help you get through the first few days with your puppy.

More often, the first few days with a new puppy is often filled with obnoxious puppy behaviors such as whining in the crate, jumping, chewing, biting, and pooping on the carpet and all over the house. Go over this training guide before bringing a new puppy home. How you treat your puppy now will affect her for the rest of her life.

happy puppy

First Time Dog Owners Guide

From managing your new puppy’s destructive tendencies to worrying about socialization and dealing with well-intentioned but often inaccurate advice from friends, family, and YouTube Videos, a first-time puppy parent can get overwhelmed. So, in this guide, we share some bite-sized tips on how to train a new puppy to get you through the next few months.

Without proper puppy training, you might easily feel overwhelmed with your new puppy. Excellent doggy manners don’t surface naturally. You must invest your time and energy to teach your new pooch how to behave well.

Ideally, you should bring a new puppy home at around 8 weeks of age. Once you arrive home with your puppy, training should begin immediately to lay a firm foundation for good manners.

Reward-based dog training methods have been proven to work effectively while creating a tighter bond between you and your pooch. The idea is to give your dog a treat when they behave properly, so they’ll strive to repeat that good behavior.

Here are the basic training areas to explore with your new pup:

1: Prevent Jumping Up from the Start

It’s difficult to resist a puppy jumping up to give you those wet kisses, but it’s critical to establish a “no jumping up to embrace” rule from the beginning.

Resist the temptation to cuddle and hug your puppy when she jumps up. Just ignore her until she has all her four feet on the ground. Once she learns from the very beginning that jumping up does not earn any attention, she will less likely thrust her paws on you as an adult.

For the same reason, don’t allow your puppy to do anything that you wouldn’t want her to do as a full-grown dog, such as jumping on the bed or sofa.

2: Train against Resource Guarding

It’s critical to teach your puppy from the very beginning to readily accept you coming around his food, toys, chew items, and resting place. Teach your pooch that your presence around his valuables actually means something good for him.

To achieve that, whenever you intrude on your pup’s space or toys, reward him with some treats. That way, your dog won’t act defensive, growl, or bite in such situations as time goes by.

If you take any item away from your puppy, either give him something else more valuable or replace it. You can alternatively give more treats and then return the item you initially took. Your pup will soon learn that you always provide something better in return for letting you near his stuff.

3: Give your Puppy Some Time Alone

For many first-time dog owners, the first few days are often filled with immense affection from doting family members and friends. Most puppies often revel in all manners of attention and don’t have any inkling that regular, everyday life will be much different.

Avoid the temptation of spending hours on end with your new puppy since as the dog grows up, it won’t be practical to devote as much time as you did at the beginning. Prepare your pooch for the future by allowing regular intervals of separation from people and other pets.

Locking your pup in a crate or pen for a few hours during the day will teach him that having some alone time is part of life, and it will lessen separation anxiety as he grows up.

To help him associate alone times with good things, give him some food puzzles or a stuffed Kong whenever he is alone.

4: Tips for Crate Training a New Puppy

Dogs are naturally skewed to live in a den. A crate, just like a den, is a safe haven for your new puppy. Choose a dog crate just large enough for the puppy to lie down with legs outstretched.

If you choose a crate that is too big, they may toilet in one corner and lie on the other. Place a welcoming bed and blanket inside to keep the space warm and cozy.

Never shut your puppy in a crate against their will. Strive to make it a happy place by hiding delicious treats inside. And when the puppy sniffs out the goodies, be sure to praise them and reward them more.

By feeding your puppy in the crate, they’ll associate it with good things and feel even more comfortable staying inside without being coerced.

Once the puppy is happy to enter and stay inside, close the door. Praise him for being calm and open the door again. Gradually extend how long the door stays closed and heap praise on your puppy’s head.

Expert Tip:

“If your puppy cries in the crate, don’t let them out of the crate immediately as this rewards their whining. Instead, only open the door when they’re quiet – this shows them that calmness is good and will be rewarded.”

Again, never use a crate to punish your puppy or leave him inside for longer than four hours at a stretch.

5: Potty Training Tips for a New Puppy

Another critical aspect that your new pup must learn quickly is the right place to go to the toilet.

To do this, follow the following steps:

  • Prevent indoor accidents by providing access ways
  • Offer lots of toilet breaks until you learn your pup’s toileting patterns
  • Praise and reward your puppy when they ease themselves in the correct place
  • Keenly watch your puppy and limit their chances of peeing or pooping indoors. If your puppy squats, immediately whisk them outside. When you can’t watch them, restrain them in the crate.

For a new puppy, vets recommend offering toilet breaks:

  • Every 20-30 minutes
  • 15 minutes after a meal
  • During walks
  • Before playing
  • At bedtime

When your pup squats on the right toilet spot, repeat the cue word “toilet” and offer your puppy a treat. By repeating this each time your pooch toilets, they’ll quickly link peeing or pooping in the right place to receiving a reward. Simple!

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Dog Peeing in the right spot

Expert Hints!

When you first arrive home with your puppy, give him a chance to relieve himself in an area you have specifically designated for that purpose (such as in the gravel area on your patio).

Allow your pooch 10-15 minutes, and if he hasn’t relieved, take him inside the house. Try again in 10 minutes.

If your puppy does relieve himself in the right area, shower him with praise and then let him explore the house (remember to always supervise your puppy – don’t let him out of your sight).

Keep talking to your puppy when he explores your house to make him feel more at home.

As you gain more experience with puppy training, you can even train him to alert you when they need to go potty by pushing a potty training doorbell known as the Mighty Paw Smart Bell.

It takes a little bit of time to train your pooch to use it, but it’s a much better alternative to your dog scratching up your backdoor.

6: How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing On Everything

All puppies need to chew something. The trick is to find them their own stuff to chew, not yours. There are varieties of puppy chew toys you can get online to keep your pooch busy, hence protecting your shoes, furniture, books, and clothing from their teeth.

7: Puppy Training Basic Commands

As a new puppy owner, your first challenge should be to learn how to effectively communicate with your pup. Just like a toddler, you don’t want to use long sentences trying to put across your point.

Dogs respond best to short, basic commands such as “Sit”, “Stay”, “Come”, and “Look”. Here is how to instill these commands in your new pooch:

1: Sit

Teach the “sit” command using a treat as a lure. Start by holding the treat in front of your puppy’s nose. Lift the treat in an arc over the pup’s head, and as they follow the goodie, their butt will naturally sink to the floor. As it happens, say “sit” and reward your puppy.

Repeat the process often and the puppy will soon learn what “sit” means and might even do it on their own to convince you to offer a reward.

2: Stay

When teaching the command “stay”, have the pup sit, then wait a few seconds before you give out the reward. Stretch out the time gradually and label the command with the cue word “stay”.

Once your pooch is able to sit still for up to a minute, take one step away then come back to the puppy’s side.

Continually add to the distance between you and your dog, gradually distancing yourself further and further away, while your pet stays put.

3: Come

Teach your young puppy to “come” by walking or running away from them. This is a great way to triggers their natural instinct to stick by your side.

As your pooch runs to catch up with you, simply say “come” with a warm voice. Praise him and give some treat for obeying the command.

4: Look

Finally, get your puppy’s attention with his favorite treat. Slowly move the treat in a straight line from his eye line all the way to the bridge of your nose. As your pooch watches the treat, say “look”.

Hold for about 10-15 seconds, praise your pooch, and give him the treat. Extend the time each time before giving the treat to let the command sink in his mind.

8: Walking a Puppy on a Leash

You should start leash training your puppy as early as possible. Walk forward with your pooch on a leash and continue enacting the commands we’ve discussed in the previous section.

When your puppy runs far much ahead, change direction, and say the “come” cue word. Walk forward only for as long as your leash remains slack. As soon as your puppy begins to pull, change direction, and call them to come.

This training approach teaches the dog that pulling halts progress and will get them nowhere fast. They’ll learn the trick quicker and obey your commands to help them get to an exciting place such as a dog park, by walking to heel.

It’s always a nice idea to use a retractable dog leash to enable you to practice and perfect the four training commands in the yard or in an open park.

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Walking a puppy on a leash

Puppy Feeding Tips

As a first-time dog owner, what to feed and how much to let a puppy eat can be confusing.

In terms of what to feed, always offer puppy food (not adult or senior dog food) to a growing pup. This is often a sensitive area and you may need to consult your vet regularly, especially if your puppy reacts to certain foods.

Your vet may be able to recommend some helpful hypoallergenic pup foods if your puppy develops allergic reactions to regular dog food.

Caring for a Puppy by Breed

Each dog breed has different exercise, feeding, sleep, and coat care requirements. Get expert information on your particular breed to learn how to best raise them.

The main consideration is often the size. For example, large breeds need special puppy food to develop healthy bones and joints. Toy breeds require close monitoring for signs of low blood sugar (may include shaking or drowsiness).

The larger the dog breed, the longer it takes for their skeleton to mature. So, avoid over-exerting a giant breed until they reach the age of 18 months. In contrast, toy breeds can mature from as early as 6-12 months.

If you get a long-coated breed, begin regular brushing from an early age before their coat becomes tangled and unkempt.

Introducing a Puppy to Other Pets

Introducing a new puppy to your existing pets can be a tricky endeavor, especially if your new pooch is the aggressive type. Do not ever let your puppy chase other pets.

Bringing a New Puppy Home to another Dog

When introducing your puppy to an adult dog, have them meet on neutral ground. If they react calmly, praise your adult dog and offer some treats.

Once they arrive home, be sure to provide separate beds, toys, and feeding bowls, and avoid leaving the two unsupervised until they fully accept each other and learn to get along.

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Introducing a puppy to another dog

Introducing Your Puppy to Cat Friends

If you have a cat at home, simply pop your puppy in his crate and let the cat sniff around him. When both the puppy and cat are free, keep the puppy under control on a dog collar and leash.

Praise the puppy when he ignores the cat. But if he tries to chase the cat, command them to sit and issue the “look” command to distract them from the excitement.

Again, never leave your cat and puppy alone unsupervised.

Introducing Your Puppy to a Small Mammal

When it comes to small mammals such as Rats, Mice, Hamsters, Gerbils, Guinea pigs, or Pygmy hedgehogs, it’s best to assume that your puppy will give chase. Be sure to keep the two separate and continue working on your “sit”, “come”, and “look” commands to take control of your puppy should he show interest in your domesticated small mammal.

Common Puppy Training Mistakes

As a new dog owner, failure to apply rules consistently can confuse your puppy. For example, if you don’t want your puppy on the sofa, apply this rule consistently. If you occasionally allow your pup to come up the sofa for cuddles, say on the weekends, it can confuse them more.

Another common potty training mistake is to leave your pooch unattended outdoors. They’re more likely going to spend the day playing instead of concentrating on the job at hand. During the initial training period, focus your puppy’s mind on good behavior and praise them for peeing or pooping in the right place – this helps to strengthen the training.

Raising a Puppy While Working

Just like a small baby, a puppy requires regular bathroom breaks and play. It can be very unfair to leave a puppy alone for more than four hours. If you’re busy at work, it’s advisable to ask a dog walker or friend to come over and give your new pup some playtime and toilet breaks while you’re at work.

Alternatively, you should consider investing in a spacious dog pen to give your puppy more freedom while at work. Place your puppy’s bed on one end of the pen and puppy pads on another. That way, your puppy will comfortably relieve himself in the toilet corner and not soil the bed and feeding area.

Monitor Your Puppy 24/7 with a Dog Surveillance Camera

A pet surveillance camera is a great way to check on your puppy whenever you’re away from home. You can seamlessly see your puppy sleeping, speak to him on a loudspeaker, give treats, or even play laser pointer games to keep him entertained.

A good pet surveillance camera is literally your eyes and ears when you can’t be there.

First Night with New Puppy Tips

Bringing home a new puppy is undoubtedly fun and exciting, but your puppy’s first night at home can be a nightmare. For a first-time dog owner, everything is new…everything is a first!

First things first, you need to understand that up to this point, your puppy has been enjoying the warmth of his mother and his littermates in a sterile environment.

At night, the puppy will definitely feel lonely and will likely demonstrate this by whining. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make the puppy feel more at home and complain less.

New Puppy Owners FAQs

Should first time dog owners get a puppy?

Just because you’re adopting a dog for the first time doesn’t mean you have to take a puppy. There are lots of adult dogs in need of loving, forever homes, and one of them might be the perfect fit for you! 

Take your time to evaluate your lifestyle, patience, and activity level before adopting a dog regardless of age.

Can I leave my new puppy alone with my dog?

Leaving your puppy unsupervised with your other dog isn’t recommended within the first few days. Just like humans, dogs take time to learn each other and get along.

If you must leave your new puppy with your other dog, have someone watch over them to ensure nothing goes awful.

How long does it take for a puppy to adjust to a new owner?

Generally speaking, it takes about three weeks for a new dog or puppy to start feeling ‘at home’ and to exhibit their true nature. However, some dog breeds can adjust much faster depending on how favorable the new environment is and how friendly you are.

Will my dog be okay with a new puppy?

Your existing dog should come inside off-leash, but the new puppy or dog should be left on his lead and given the freedom to explore the house room by room.

Over the first one to two weeks, keenly watch the interactions between the dogs, and don’t leave them alone together until you are sure they feel comfortable with each other.

Final Words

Consistency is key if you want to raise up a well-mannered dog, and that applies not just to you and your household, but to everyone who comes into contact with your new puppy. And more often, people are much more difficult to control than your puppy, so be sure to create a favorable atmosphere for your puppy to learn.

More importantly, don’t wait for too long to get your pup started on training basics! From our experience, we often see issues when dogs get much older, and by then the naughty behaviors have been strongly reinforced and become almost impossible to get under control.

Begin puppy training basic as early as the first day at home and consistently work on them to have a well-behaved pooch that will be the pride of your family. More importantly, learn what your dog communicates by simply observing his ear positions, facial expression, tail wagging rhythm, and other body cues.

If you have any experiences as a first-time puppy owner, be sure to share them in the comment box below. You never know; you could help someone struggling with a similar issue!

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