So, you’ve just brought your puppy home and after an excited search around his new stomping grounds, he’s fast asleep at your feet. And as you look down at him and wonder, ‘what next?’
The first month of sharing your life with your puppy is a really defining time for your both. It will set the tone for all future interactions, how safe they feel and how well they’ll take to training.
The most important things to concentrate on during those first few weeks are love, trust and respect. Without this as a baseline in your relationship, you won’t be able to train them and you’ll more than likely end up with a dog who has lots of destructive and attention seeking behaviors.
Here are a few ideas on how to connect with your new puppy during his first month or so in his new home with you.
Love, Respect and Trust
The very first step in connecting with your puppy is making sure they feel loved and respected, and that they trust you unconditionally.
Pay attention to them and spend as much time as you can with your puppy. This will show him that he can depend on you and it will help him to relax and feel safe as he explores his new surroundings.
Make Sure Their Environment is Welcoming
Create an area in the home which is just for them. This could be a corner of your lounge, or a crate if you decide to crate train them.
This space should be a positive and happy place for them with no negative associations, so if you do decide to crate train, make sure you make it fun and start off with short periods of time in the crate.
Make sure your home is puppy proofed so you don’t have to keep taking things away from them which they shouldn’t have, and use gates for any areas which you don’t want your puppy to have free access to.
Learn to Understand Your Puppy’s Body Language
Dogs communicate through their body language. The best way to build a strong bond with your puppy is to take time to watch him closely and learn how he’s feeling when he displays a certain body language.
Learn to recognize when he is feeling stressed, tired or playful so that you can interact with him appropriately at each time.
Strengthen the Relationship with Training
Training should become an integral part of every single day. Stick to training using positive reinforcement. Any negative consequences, such as loud or angry voices will only cause him to become anxious and will separate the bond you’re been working so hard to strengthen.
Dogs crave mental stimulation. So, not only will daily training with them strengthen your bond but will also pay off in the long run.
This one-to-one connection time will be invaluable as they grow. The more time you spend training your puppy in his early months, the more content and happy he will be as he grows.
Plenty of Play
Playing together will help to strengthen those bonds of trusts and love. Play is vital for your puppy. It’ll help him to develop physical and social skills which will follow him throughout his life. Puppies play a lot with their litter mates, and this play should continue when you bring them home. They learn to play with other objects and toys as young as 5 weeks old. And by 8 to 12 weeks old you can start to teach your puppy simple games like fetch.
Play can contribute to the amount of exercise a puppy needs to do. As well as helping to avoid any behavioral problems from developing and strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Your dog isn’t always going to get it right. He might pee inside, or misunderstand a command. It’s important that when this happens you remain calm and re-direct his behavior to the ones you’d like him to achieve.
If you get cross or angry with your dog, you will damage the bond which you’ve both created. Rather lower your expectations and help him to achieve more realistic training goals so that he feels a sense of pride and accomplishment than get angry at him for making mistakes.
Ultimately, if you provide your puppy with a structured and robust training program with plenty of love and play on the side, your bond will leap from strength to strength.