Life Hacks for New Puppy Owners
You and your family made the decision to bring a new puppy into your home, found the one that stole your heart, and now that puppy you dreamed about is a reality. And reality has hit home—hard! Perhaps you hadn’t realized that raising a puppy would be quite the task it’s turning out to be, and you wonder if there are easier ways to get it done.
Well, take heart. There are! Here’s a list of the ten best hacks for living with a new pup.
1. My puppy chews on everything! You’ve done the obvious and bought plenty of chew toys and kept valuables up off the floor, but Puppy is still chewing. Your computer doesn’t work because he chewed the power cord and the baseboards are looking the worse for wear, too. What to do? Spray bitter apple on a cloth and wipe those surfaces down well. Dogs hate the taste of bitter apple and will steer clear once they take the first bite.
2. My large-breed puppy pulls my arms off when we walk. In a matter of a few weeks, that rolly-polly puppy has increased in size, weight, and strength. Even the word walking is misleading—he’s doing the leading and dragging you behind! Switch to a front-clip harness, which puts you in control. Harnesses that clip to the back encourage pulling.
3. All he wants to do is play—and I have studying to do. Yes, the main goal in a puppy’s life is to get in as much play and attention from you as he can. Most pups like to play tug, but you need to be careful of their developing teeth. Make a tug toy by putting a knot in an old sock toe and making a loop at the top end. Stick your foot through it and let him tug away. Gently moving your foot back and forth gives him all the tugging attention he needs.
4. I don’t think he’ll ever catch on to potty training! Make each success rewarding with special treats reserved only for that purpose. Many dogs love carrots, but whatever your pup goes nuts over is the treat to choose. He’ll catch on faster when his behavior brings immediate rewards.
5. He doesn’t seem to understand what good behavior is. Puppy’s don’t have a value system like ours. Whatever rewards him is good, whether it’s a treat you give him or something he chooses for himself (and we certainly don’t always agree on that one!). Unfortunately, whatever he’s doing at the time you give him a reward is what he thinks he’s getting rewarded for. Any time delay between the behavior you want and the reward will make him misunderstand what you are telling him is good. Try a clicker training! Clicking and immediately rewarding will pinpoint to him what he’s doing that is right.
6. My puppy is afraid of new situations, people, and other dogs. The first three months of your puppy’s life have a permanent effect on his temperament. Getting him out where new people, situations, and other dogs are is paramount in his development. Not only does it help encourage interaction, it also helps reduce fears that may pop up in unusual situations, such as thunderstorms. Socialization builds confidence and a happy outlook on life.
7. He’s digging up my garden! Yes, some dogs love to dig. Whether he’s a terrier (the name comes from a word meaning “earth”) or he just enjoys digging, the urge can be destructive. Best hack? Give him his own place to dig! Dig a small pit and mix some sand in with the soil to keep it loose and improve draining. Bury his favorite toy and reward him when he digs it up. Before long, his digging pit will be the only place he makes a mess.
8. He tears the stuffing out of toys and then isn’t interested in them anymore. Some pups just love to rip the stuffing out and that seems to be the only thing they like to do. Replacing stuffed toys can get expensive, though. Here’s how to make a reusable stuffed toy that will save you tons of money. JW Pet Company makes a durable, rubber ball full of holes, appropriately called the Hole-ee Roller Ball. Stuff fabric scraps into the ball. Pupster will enjoy pulling the fabric scraps out again and again.
9. Pet poop bags are so expensive! That’s true, they are. But cleaning up after your dog is not only socially responsible, it’s quite often the law as well. Instead of buying expensive poop bags, use cheaper diaper-disposable bags instead. The house-brand will almost always beat out the name-brand.
10. My vet says I should brush my puppy’s teeth, but he hates it! Some dogs don’t seem to mind having their teeth brushed and others will fight you, well, tooth and nail. Rather than make each experience a fight, spread doggy toothpaste on a chew toy and let him brush them all by himself!