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«PUPPY ADOPTION HANDBOOK: TABLE OF CONTENTS Set Up for Success Meeting your puppy’s needs (supplies checklist) Setting up your home For a happy and ...»

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Set Up for Success

Meeting your puppy’s needs (supplies checklist)

Setting up your home

For a happy and healthy puppy (mental and physical stimulation)

Arriving Home with Your Puppy

The first hour

The first day

The bedtime routine

House-Training and Crate Training

Crate training your puppy (the first day, the next few days, leaving the house)

House-training your puppy

Four golden rules of house-training Alone-Time Training Being alone doesn’t come naturally KONG® stuffing pointers Puppy Socialization Why it’s so important—and urgent A well-socialized puppy What about vaccinations?

Tying dogs out Puppy handling Puppy socialization chart Puppy Training and How to Train Why puppy training?

Practice positive reinforcement Why it works so well A word on punishment Unwanted behaviors Dog training principles Lure-reward training Puppy training classes Common Puppy Problems Troubleshooting puppy problems (play biting/mouthing, chewing, barking, jumping, fearfulness in new environments) Common Misconceptions Additional Resources 1


Dear Puppy Adopter, Congratulations on your new puppy! Adopting a puppy is a great joy—and a big responsibility.

You may or may not have had a puppy before. If you did, you probably mostly remember how adorable your dog was as a puppy. Human memory often works that way. The challenges of mouthing and house-training fade away and what remains is the recollection of floppy ears and silly antics. We tend to forget just how much time and effort it takes to look after a puppy.

Think of it this way: a puppy reaches the same point of maturity in one swift year that it takes a human baby 13 years to get to.

For the first year or two, raising your puppy will mean a great deal of work for you and your family. During this period, you lay the foundation for a lifetime of good manners, sociability, and behavioral and physical health. You must socialize, exercise, train, and care for your new puppy. What’s more, you must start right away.

The first four months of your puppy’s life is known as his “critical socialization window,” a time when experiences have the most dramatic effect on your puppy’s development. Here, his brain is a sponge—the equivalent of a human child’s first five years—and you want to fill it with as many positive experiences as possible. Introduce your puppy to all manner of people, animals, sounds, textures, and situations. Tired yet?

Fortunately, there’s help to be had. We offer puppy classes, socialization guides, and training handouts, as well as help with any questions you might have. First, take some time to review this handbook; it will get you off to a good start.

Enjoy your puppy adventure!


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Meeting Your Puppy’s Needs Adding any new family member, especially the four-legged kind, requires a certain amount of equipment and some adjustments to your home for everyone’s safety and comfort.

Here’s a list of must-have supplies for a great start with your new puppy:

Basics [ ] Food [ ] Water bowl [ ] Bed, blanket, towels [ ] Crate and/or baby gate [ ] Long leash, short leash [ ] Flat collar w/ID tags (to be worn at all times) [ ] Head halter or anti-pull harness (for walking) [ ] Poop bags, potty pads Puppy Care [ ] Canine toothbrush, toothpaste [ ] Nail clippers [ ] Dog shampoo [ ] Grooming brush [ ] Flea control treatment* Training and Mental Stimulation [ ] Food dispensing toys (puppy KONG toys, treat balls) [ ] Puzzle toys (hide-and-seek, puppy-sized treat wheels) [ ] Training treats (soft treats, freeze-dried meats)* [ ] Plush toys (with or without squeakers), rope toys [ ] Edible chews (rawhide, bully sticks, pig ears)* [ ] Puppy carrying pouch (for socialization outings) *Consult your vet for recommendations Setting Up Your Home Tempting as it is to give your new puppy the run of the house right away, that’s too much freedom too soon. Instead, create a safe, confined playpen—a puppy-proofed area—to allow your puppy to make a gradual transition to his new home. The playpen is where your puppy will stay when you can’t supervise, i.e., whenever you can’t keep your eyes on him the entire time.

This prevents chewing accidents, potty accidents, and teaches your puppy to settle down while alone. Supervision is also crucial when giving your puppy a toy or chew. Keep an eye on him until you know what he does with such treats. Dissect them? Digest them?

Don’t worry that using a playpen is too strict or in any way mean. Dogs are den animals who enjoy close quarters.

Where? The ideal playpen area is easy to clean and easy to close off with a door or baby gate.

It should be mostly free of furniture. The best places for a playpen are the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, or an empty spare room.

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Until your puppy has had two vaccines, don’t put him on the ground or floor where other dogs may have been. Carry him on all socialization and bathroom outings and only put him down in safe areas. After two vaccines, he can enroll in puppy classes, puppy socials, and puppy daycare. Before then, socialize him at home and on outings where you carry him.

Training and Exercise Training and exercise are both essential to your puppy’s development, manners, and health—as well as to your sanity. Tired puppies bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier if left alone.

Here are some options for giving your puppy good, age-appropriate workouts:

 Carry your puppy on outings to meet new people, animals, and environments.

 Burn off mental and physical energy with puppy training classes.

 Take your puppy to puppy socials with other vaccinated pups.

 Host puppy socialization parties at home with fully vaccinated dogs.

 Have frequent puppy training and play sessions at home.

 Enroll your puppy in a puppy daycare to play with other vaccinated pups.

 After your puppy is fully vaccinated: hire a dog walker or enroll in a doggy daycare.

Mind Workouts Puppies are a lot like children. Unless you give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun. To puppies, that often means chewing on the furniture or attacking your shoelaces.

Instead, give your puppy acceptable outlets for his playful energy by providing toys, puzzles, and other brainteasers.

Here are some options* for exercising your puppy’s mind:

 Brainteaser toys (Linkables® from Premier®, Seek-A-Treat, Canine Genius™ toys)  Plush toys (hide-and-seek toys, squeaky toys)  Edible chews (rawhide, bully stick, pig’s ear)  Obedience training sessions/puppy training classes  Stuffed/frozen/hidden puppy KONG toys *Always choose size- and age-appropriate chews and toys. Check with your vet before introducing your puppy to a new product.



The First Hour Tempting as it may be, it’s important not to give your puppy the run of the house—or make him the center of attention all the time. Instead, prepare him for a normal routine from the beginning

by introducing him to your home this way:

Step 1. When you arrive home, take your puppy out for a walk or bathroom break.

Pick a spot not used by any other dogs (until your puppy is fully vaccinated).

Step 2. Introduce him on leash to his new home, including the puppy playpen.

Step 3. Give him a chew bone or stuffed KONG and leave him alone in the puppy playpen for about five minutes.

Tip: If your puppy begins to howl, whine, or bark, wait for him to be quiet for at least 10 seconds before you respond. Otherwise, he learns that whining summons you, and he’ll cry for longer periods of time.

The First Day Throughout the day, set up the routine you plan to follow.

 Leave your puppy in his crate or playpen while you spend time in another part of the house.

 Vary the length of your absences, from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, and repeat them throughout the day. Put your puppy in his crate or playpen while you pay bills, talk on the phone, eat dinner, etc.

 Have a 10-minute play or cuddle session with your puppy, and then take him out to go to the bathroom (in a safe spot). Return him to his playpen afterwards.

The Bedtime Routine After a trip to your puppy’s bathroom area, put your puppy in his crate or playpen with a chew toy. He may have trouble settling in at first, but should eventually relax and go to sleep. This can be especially difficult during the puppy’s first night in the home. If he has previously slept with littermates, roommates, or his mother, the transition to sleeping alone can be even more difficult. It is completely normal puppy behavior to whine and cry before bedtime, and he will eventually outgrow it.

Tip: Harsh as it seems, don’t respond if your puppy cries or barks. If he gets attention for barking, he’ll keep it up longer next time.

–  –  –

A crate can help you with:

House-training. Teaches your puppy to hold it when he has to go to the bathroom.

Chew training. Stops your puppy from chewing anything except legitimate chew toys.

Settling. Encourages your puppy to settle down when he’s alone.

Kenneling. Your puppy may need to stay in a crate during travel or a hospital visit.

If you decide to purchase a crate, get one large enough for your puppy to stand up, lie down, and turn around in—but no larger. Otherwise, he might be tempted to use one end as a bathroom and the other as a bed.

Crate Training Your Puppy Before you start using the crate, give your puppy a chance to get used to it. Don’t just put him in there and hope he adjusts; that would be traumatic. The crate needs to be a comfy, safe place

your puppy loves to spend time in. Here’s how to get him used to it:


1. Throw tiny, yummy treats into the crate. When your puppy goes in to get them, praise him.

2. When your puppy is happily venturing into the crate, begin practicing closing the door for a few seconds while treating him through the opening. Then let him right back out. Repeat the exercise many times, building up to 10 seconds.


1. Repeat exercise 2 from above. Then stuff a puppy KONG with extra-special goodies. Put the KONG in the crate and close the door behind your puppy as he goes to eat it. Go about your business in the house, then let your puppy back out after five minutes. Do this without any fanfare whatsoever.

2. Repeat the exercise several times in the next couple of days using a yummy chew toy. Vary the absences from one to 20 minutes. Ignore your puppy if he whines or barks; always wait to let him out until he has been quiet for 10 seconds.


1. Leave your puppy in the crate with something delicious in his KONG, then leave the house for brief errands such as collecting your mail or watering the garden.

2. Over the next few sessions, gradually extend the duration of your absences. Go from one minute to five minutes to 10, 15, or 30 minutes, depending on your puppy’s age (see below).

Don’t just build your absences upward, though; throw in some shorter ones for variety.

–  –  –

6 Tip: Never leave dogs at any age in the crate longer than three to four hours at a time, except for bedtime.

For more information, see Crate Training Puppy in the Behavior & Training section of our website.

House-Training Your Puppy Puppies become house-trained at different speeds, depending on size and anatomy, and on how diligently you stick to the house-training routine. Allow anywhere from a few weeks to several months for your puppy to be fully house-trained.

House-Training Schedule

Take your puppy out:

 Very first thing in the morning  After he eats  After he wakes from a nap  After he is done with a play session  Last thing before bed Young puppies (eight to 10 weeks old) usually need to go out at least once an hour.

Four Golden Rules of House-Training

1. Until your puppy is perfectly house-trained, never leave him alone unless he’s in the puppy playpen or crate. Supervise your puppy at all times in the house.

2. Take your puppy out on leash often, starting with half-hour intervals. Go to the same spot (or at least the same kind of surface) every time. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, be sure to pick a spot other dogs haven’t used!

3. If you see your puppy sniffing and circling in the house, take him out immediately.

4. Praise and reward with a treat when he goes outdoors. Keep this up for at least the first few weeks, then you can switch to just praising.

If Your Puppy Has an Accident If you catch your puppy making a mistake, interrupt your puppy without being too harsh (“Ah!

Ah! Let’s go outside!”), then hustle him to his bathroom area to finish. If he finishes there, praise and reward this. The important thing is to interrupt, not punish. Punishing your puppy for accidents can make him afraid to go in front of you, so he hides his mistakes by going behind couches or beds or in closets. He would also become less likely to go in front of you outside, making it impossible to praise him and make him understand what you want him to do.

If your puppy makes a mistake while you are not there, don’t scold or punish him. He won’t make the connection with his accident—smacking him or rubbing his face in his own mess will just make him afraid of you. Only if you catch him in the act should you interrupt your puppy.

Tip: Clean all accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser (e.g. Nature’s Miracle®, AntiIcky-Poo®, Petastic®).

–  –  –

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