National Puppy Day and 8 Puppy “Starter” Tips!

Today is National Puppy Day! Founded by Colleen Paige in 2006, and held on March 23 annually, National Puppy Day was created to “celebrate the unconditional love and joy that puppies bring to our lives and to raise awareness about the horrors of puppy mills.” Colleen’s goal is to have 10,000 puppies adopted from shelters and rescues on National Puppy Day, and their official motto is “Adopt Don’t Shop.”

If you plan to bring a puppy into your family, it’s good to know that puppies need a lot of time, attention and hands-on training. As The Pet Lifestyle Coach®, Super Smiley and I have 8 basic starter tips for you to consider when getting a new puppy.

  1. The very most important first step is to make sure you choose a puppy that’s a lifestyle match for your family. Try to get an idea of the size your puppy will be when she’s grown and what type of dog she may become. This will give you an idea of whether you might have a very energetic headstrong dog like a terrier or a big couch potato like a lab mix.
  2. Once you’ve determined that the pups you’re considering will work in your lifestyle, you can evaluate different personalities within the litter and pick the personality best suited for you. Place the pups one at a time on the floor beside you and see who follows you when you walk. Is he active and curious or more laid back with good eye contact? You can take a trainer with you to help evaluate which one is your best match.
  3. Have your house set up for your puppy before you arrive home. Have the bed, bowls, crate, and “bathroom spot” ready to go. Be sure to also have some chew toys and calming toys ready to go!
  4. Try to bring your pup home on a day when you can spend a few days at home with her, like on a Friday, or when you have a few days off from work.

Super Smiley here now continuing the tips from the puppy’s perspective. I’m a big dog now, but I remember everything: from being abandoned on the street, to living in the shelter, to my very first step into my real forever home.

  1. We puppies learn from our mother and littermates from the moment we are born. Learning never stops. So, from the moment when we go live with our new person, they are our teacher. This means your pup’s training for a life with people begins as soon as you take him into your arms.
  2. When you get home, the very first thing you should do is take him straight to his bathroom spot and say his “go” cue word. This bathroom cue word is the one you will use for the rest of his life. When he “goes,” praise him and give him a treat. Then take him out every hour and say his bathroom cue word. This will start house training immediately. He’ll be clear on what he’s to do; and, as an added benefit to you, it’ll help keep his bathroom spot in one designated area.
  3. We dogs feel safe with a solid structure. We have less anxiety, learn better and trust you as our leader if you give us a good solid structure that fits with the way we dogs think. A trainer can help you set up a feeding and sleeping structure and when your puppy’s vaccinations are completed, a group puppy class can start you both on the right track for basic obedience and good socialization skills. The great news is that all this builds on the foundation you’ve already started at home.
  4. Here’s one more thing that’s really important and a lot of people don’t know: between the ages of 8 and 11 weeks, the puppy is in the fear imprint stage. This developmental stage comes from our ancestors, the wolves, as a survival mechanism. When wolf pups begin to emerge from their den at around this age, if they are frightened by something, like a bear or gunshot, they will be imprinted to be afraid of this forever. So, during this stage, be careful to avoid loud noises (like fireworks), crowds or anything that might frighten your pup. Otherwise, he may always be afraid of that thing and never trust that it won’t hurt him. If it’s fireworks season, try using a calming diffuser to help reduce your pup’s stress levels.

Celebrate National Puppy Day with a Newly Adopted Pup or with your dog that you’ve had a lifetime. When you look in their eyes, after all, it’s all about the forever love and that perfect connection.

Until Next Time,
Woof and Super Smiles from,
Super Smiley and Megan Blake, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®


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