So, you’re getting a new puppy. Congratulations! While bringing a new pet in to your home is always exciting, it’s a good idea to think about what will make the transition easy for your new canine buddy.
Creating a puppy schedule can help your new pup acclimatise to his new digs and his training. So, how, where and when to start?
Begin Your Routine Immediately
As soon as you walk through the door with your new puppy, the routine you have decided on should be put into action. Some puppies may take longer than others to adjust, so there is no specific time frame. Much will depend on the consistency of you and your family.
Where to Start?
Give some thought in advance to a feeding schedule. Young puppies need to be fed three or four times a day until they are three to six months old. The meals should be spread out as evenly as possible, and you need to allow time for potty breaks right after they eat. If no one in your family is home during the day you may need to consider asking a neighbour or dog sitter to pop in and feed and potty the puppy while everyone is at work or school.
First thing in the morning before you do anything else, take your puppy outside to potty. It may take a while for him to catch on, so be patient and encourage him to do his business. This means that initially you have to get in to a routine too – of standing outside with him until he eliminates, then praising him.
Much, of course, depends on your own lifestyle. If you tend to be a night owl and take the puppy out just before you hit the sack you may be able to sleep fairly late; conversely, if you go to bed very early you will need to be prepared to get up early as well.
Crate training a puppy right from the get-go can make life easier for all involved. One of the best methods of crate training is to feed your puppy in the crate. He will come to consider his crate a good place to be and there will be less resistance when you have to put him in it for other reasons. It’s a good idea to establish a routine around the crate as well – put your puppy in it and close the door for increasing lengths of time. This is one of the best and safest places he can be if you have to leave him alone for any length of time.
Exercise and Playtime Routines
While there are no set rules as to when and how you should provide your puppy with exercise and interactive play time, be sure to arrange for these activities every day.
A brisk walk, an off-lead romp and/or playtime in the garden or house will help take the edge off your pup and keep him out of trouble. A tired puppy is a good puppy!
The actual amount of exercise you will need to provide for your puppy will depend heavily on his energy levels and breeding. A sporting dog is going to require much more exercise than a Pekingese so be prepared to adopt a routine that addresses your puppy’s particular needs.
Make Time for Basic Obedience
Every day you should make time for some basic obedience lessons. Learning simple things such as sit, stay and recall are certainly within the grasp of a young puppy and, once imprinted, will always be with him. Just five or 10 minutes a day will yield untold benefits over the lifetime of your new companion, and it will build a strong bond between the two of you.
What Should Your Routine Look Like?
There are no hard and fast rules around setting up a schedule for your new puppy. Everyone’s life is different, so it will be up to you to work your puppy’s requirements into daily family life. Basically, you need to consider the puppy’s need to eliminate several times a day, the necessity of regular feedings, human contact and exercise. It’s also important to remember that you can be a little flexible if need be – dogs are much more pliable than some humans when it comes to routines. In the end, though, consistency will pay off in a healthier, happier puppy and a happier you.
By: Shirley Culpin
Shirley has been involved with the purebred dog world for 45 years. Her Irish Setters have won many Best in Show awards, top obedience accolades, field titles and advanced agility titles. She remains active in dog volunteer work and through her ‘Home Away from Home’ dog sitting service.