puppy for Christmas

Bringing a new puppy into the family is a big decision and we sincerely hope it was one you made with your entire household before you gifted a puppy for Christmas! A dog is a wonderful companion and, while puppyhood is a wonderful time, it can also be chaotic if you’re not sure what to expect! That’s where we at Doggy Brace come in. Here’s everything you need to know if you got a puppy for Christmas. 

First Thing is First: Vet Visit!

We know the holidays can be a little crazy, but you’ll need to make time for a vet visit. Puppies need a lot of vaccinations, as well as a good diet to grow into a healthy dog, and your vet will help you make all the right decisions to get them there. You should ask your vet about: 

  • Vaccines
  • Deworming
  • Flea prevention
  • When to get them fixed
  • Diet and ideal weights
  • Teething toys and training
  • Grooming requirements for its breed
  • Recommendations for doggy day cares and trainers (if needed)

This will give you a good roadmap to start! Remember, a healthy pup is a receptive pup, which means they’ll be more willing to learn good behaviors and the house rules. Which leads us to…

The Second Thing: Puppy Proof Your Home

Before you teach your dog to not get on the counters, open cabinets, or destroy your socks, you’ll need to puppy-proof your home to keep them out of anything dangerous while they’re learning. Puppies are a lot like babies — they want to get into everything because it looks fun, smells funny, or just because they can! So you’re going to have to seriously puppy-proof your home to keep them safe while they’re learning. 

We’re big advocates of keeping your new puppy in one or two rooms of the house during the first few weeks. This now only gives you time to train them, it lets your puppy get used to all of the new sounds, smells, people, and other pets in the house. Think of it like this: your dog just moved houses and they’re too young to understand why! Instead of overwhelming them with new experiences, ease them into everything. It can really help in the long run! 

As for puppy proofing, here’s what you can do: 

  • Tie up your curtains and blind cords
  • Put away blankets
  • Get a lid for your trash (or secure it so pup can’t get into it)
  • Hide exposed electrical cords (or unplug them)
  • Lock away chemicals, chocolate, or any other poisonous food
  • Keep toilet lids closed (or put a childproof lock on them)
  • Keep chairs away from counters and tables until your pup knows not to use them to climb
  • Move houseplants out of reach
  • Fence your yard and keep your lawn trimmed (for tick control)

Finally, supervise your pup when they’re not in their crate or in their safe zone, just to be sure they’re not getting into any trouble. 

The Third Thing: House Training

We’re finally at the big part: house training. No one wants their dog to make a habit of going to the bathroom inside the house. However, house training takes time! Your puppy will have accidents and that is both expected and totally normal. They may not know that being outside means it’s time to use the potty, so you’ll need to train them. 

 Be patient with them and give them plenty of praise when they do go outside. If they relieve themselves indoors, try not to get mad and do not rub their nose in it. They won’t be able to associate their accident with the punishment. 

To keep your own sanity, it is best to keep your new dog confined at first, and walk him/her frequently, as well as repeat specific “training” words so your dog can associate going to the bathroom with them. For example, one of our employees taught their mini dachshund the phrase “go potty” so he knows that it’s not playtime, it’s potty time! 

It’s all about repetition. When your puppy is going, praise them and use the training word. Say things like “good potty!” to get them associated with both the word and action. And remember, it will take some time. 

We also recommend training your dog to give you a sign when they need to use the bathroom! They can ring a bell by the door, push a button that says “bathroom” or “outside,” or sit by the door when they want to go out — whatever sign works best with your lifestyle. 

Fourth Thing: Socializing 

Finally, while all of this is going on, don’t forget to socialize your dog with other people and other dogs! Dogs are pack animals, which means they love to have companions, friends, and need a pack leader (you). 

It’s also extremely important to teach your dog how to be approachable and calm around strangers (both humans and pets). This is for your dog’s safety! Even guard dogs need to know when it’s a threat or when a family friend is coming over — they shouldn’t be on guard at all times. This is where socializing comes into play. 

A well socialized dog is one who listens to you when meeting others — they don’t get overly excited, anxious, or territorial and they don’t shut down (or explode) when these situations happen. They remain calm until it’s time to unleash their energy. It doesn’t mean your dog can’t be excited to meet new people, it just means having them control their excitement until it’s okay for them to release it. 

Socializing will help with a plethora of behavioral issues too! Your dog will be calmer, less prone to barking at people outside or other dogs, will be calmer on walks and in dog parks, and will just be a happier dog all together. 

Additionally, certain breeds need to be socialized more than others; not because they’re bad dogs, but because they often are viewed as mean, scary, or even dangerous. These breeds are: 

  • Pit bulls (Bull dogs, America pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Staffordshire Bull Terriers)
  • German Shepards
  • Mastiffs
  • Great Danes 
  • Rottweilers 

Work with your veterinarian to determine when it would be safe to start taking your dog out into the neighborhood.

If you need more resources, we have them here: 

Training Your Dog Not To Bark
How to Introduce Dogs to Each Other 
How to Choose a Dog Trainer 
Safe Games for Puppies
How Heavy Should My Dog Be