You Got a New Puppy ….Now What?

by Camilla Gray-Nelson

Several weeks after coming home with an extra set of little paws from visiting your local animal shelter or adding a new ‘holiday’ puppy to your household, you may find yourself thinking…Now what? With the right guidance, raising a new puppy can be a breeze, but without it – it can be disruptive, even heartbreaking. Here are some easy tips from the Diva:

Vaccinations and Safety

Did you know that a puppy needs only ONE set of effective shots to be protected? The key word, however, is “effective.” Puppies are born with a beginning dose of their mother’s antibodies, which can last anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks. Only when the mother’s antibodies fade out can a vaccination be effective in the puppy; any given before that time are destroyed or nullified by those inherited antibodies. This is why we vaccinate new puppies at 6, 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, trying to hit that “bulls eye” for protection.

Until vaccinated through 16 weeks, your puppy is vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses such as parvovirus which is transmitted through the remnants of urine and feces of infected animals. This particular virus can last for years in and on the ground even though things look clean! Avoid any public place where dogs of “unknown origin” may have been. Parks, trails and beaches are especially risky for unvaccinated dogs. Parvovirus attacks the G.I. system and is deadly to young puppies and devastating to families. Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience.

Early management

Most training classes require a puppy to be at least 5 or 6 months old and fully vaccinated before they can attend. But with a young puppy, obedience commands are the least of your worries. You need guidance right away on how to stop chewing, barking, nipping,  jumping and house training accidents – things that Sit/Stay classes don’t generally focus on. Call a local dog trainer and ask for a private “new puppy manners” session as soon as possible, either at their clean and controlled facility, or at your home. If you wait too long, these behaviors will be much more difficult to control and a source of discord in your home.

Training and Obedience Classes

Get signed up for a training or obedience class as soon as you know when your puppy will be old enough. Reserve your spot. Between now and then, you will have plenty to work on as you practice basic manners at home.

For more information on teaching your new puppy manners and behavioral boundaries, be sure to read some of my earlier posts:
How to Cure Jumping Up (I and II) 10/31/10 and 11/21/10
“The Scoop” on Housetraining 2/20/11
Border Patrol: Teaching Boundaries 1/9/11
The Secret to a Well-Behaved Dog 5/9/10

About Camilla Gray-Nelson

When I started training dogs professionally, it was women who sought out my help. Responsibility for the family dog typically falls to them, after all. Their homes were in chaos; they were yelling at their dogs – and their kids – and couldn’t control either one. The life skills of personal power that I learned as a child (and assumed everyone else had, too), turned out to be rare among my clients. Since that time, it has been my personal goal to share Nature’s message of quiet power with women (and men) everywhere to help them become more effective not only with their dogs, but in their greater lives as well.

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