You and your new puppy

It is so exciting!  Today is the day that you bring home your new puppy.  You imagine the fun-filled years that lie ahead, barely thinking about the challenges that lie just around the corner.  But they are there! The next few weeks are critical, as you create the strong foundation that
will support your relationship with your pet for the rest of its life.

In our lives, timing is everything. So it is with your new puppy.  The more you can give, the more rapidly your puppy will adapt to your lifestyle. Before you bring home your little bundle of energy, map out your schedule so that you can give the puppy the extra time that you know it will need.  Make sure that everyone in the house is willing to put up with these schedule
changes, and that no trips, parties, deadlines, or holidays are going to interfere with training and managing the dog.  Pick several weeks where schedules are relatively quiet and you can be present to help train the dog.  Puppies grow very, very quickly, so this time will also pass quickly.

There is much to do before bringing home the new arrival.  The more that is accomplished before the dog enters your house, the smoother the transition, and the more time you will have to be with the puppy.  Make sure that you have all the supplies you need prior to bringing home the little one.

A short list of needed supplies will include an appropriately sized crate with bedding, a dog bed for outside of the crate, food and water bowls, an accurately fitted collar with an identification tag, and a leash.  Do not forget chewing toys.  Proper chewing toys, such as Kong Toys and Nylabones, are not a luxury.  They are an indispensable part of a dog's life.  Dogs are made to chew.  If you do not provide them with their own chew toys, they will find something else, such as your table legs or cell phones, to satisfy this natural urge.  This is especially important for puppies that are losing baby teeth and cutting adult teeth.  You may also want to consider a small
toybox to store all his belongings in.

Other important items include tools to clean up yard waste, and grooming supplies, such as brushes, combs, and nail trimmers.  Additionally, have on hand a portable exercise pen or other means to confine the puppy.  Many owners also find a child gate indispensable for confining puppies either in, or out of, rooms.

Of course, you need to have the puppy's food before the dog gets to your house.  It is recommended that you feed your puppy the same food I have been, which is Purina ProPlan.  This way there are no upset stomachs caused by rapid diet changes.  Changes in the diet should be done gradually, over approximately two weeks, once the dog is accustomed to the new house.  Puppies should be fed on set schedules three times a day. 

Now that you have all your supplies, decide where they will be kept, where the puppy will be allowed to stay, and where the puppy's bed and/or crate will reside.  Puppies are social creatures, they do not want to be locked away from the humans in their family; nor should they be.  Locking puppies into bathrooms or basements isolates them from their families, interferes
with house training, and adds unneeded stress.  The closer an eye you can keep on the puppy, the faster you will bond , the less potential destruction of your house, and the quicker house-training will be accomplished.  So make plans to keep the puppy, the playpen, and the crate near to you.  Crates can be kept in the living room, the playroom, the kitchen, or even in a bedroom. It may be necessary to move the crate or have more than one, so that the puppy is near the family, but still quiet enough to settle down for naps or nighttime sleeps.  Some owners move the crate from the hub of daytime activities into their bedroom at night.  This is a perfect place, because is quiet and warm, and has the added security of family members.

The final step is to make sure that your house is puppy-proofed.  In a similar manner to baby-proofing the house, one needs to think like a curious puppy and take a good, hard look at the house.  Temporarily remove irreplaceable, precious items that can be knocked down or chewed-up.  Put child locks on cabinets so that bathroom supplies and poisonous cleaners,
laundry detergents, pesticides, car products, and lawn products are totally inaccessible.  Fix gates and fences, and make sure that door latches work properly.  Fence off areas of the yard that you do not want soiled or dug up.  Teach children to close doors to rooms that are off limits to the puppy.  Do your best to confine computer wires and cords into bundled
packages that are out of reach of the puppy.  Finally, post the number for national poison control in an easy-to-find and easy to remember place.

Once you have your supplies and your schedule arranged, it is time to bring home the new puppy.  Expect there to be some bumps in the road as the puppy settles, so you will not get overly upset when accidents happen, shoes get chewed, or house-training takes a little longer than expected.  Eventually, all puppies do grow up and their demands will decrease as they settle into your family.

New puppies need a warm, loving home, guidelines, schedules, and age-appropriate rules.  They do not train themselves and they do not know what is expected of them.  It is your job to calmly and repeatedly show them proper age-appropriate behaviors.  Puppies that are rewarded for proper behavior will learn much faster than those that are punished for
inappropriate behaviors.  For example, punishing a puppy for urinating in the house is totally useless.  The dog's actions tell you that it has no idea where it is supposed to have eliminated.  There are many wonderful books that explain positive-reinforcement training and a positive approach to housetraining.

One of the keys to training your puppy is to remember that the tiny, adorable bundle of fluff that is delicately chewing on your fingers will rapidly grow into a big, strapping bundle of muscle that can inflict much damage if not properly trained.  So think for the future.  If you do not want your adult dog biting your hands playfully, stop the behavior now and redirect your puppy's attention to appropriate chew items.  If you do not want your adult dog playing with you at 2:00 in the morning, do not play with a young puppy that wakes up in the middle of the night.  Simply take it outside to eliminate and put it back to bed.  Realize now that the actions and schedules you create today will follow you into your dog's adult life.

You need to be able to stop your puppy from performing an inappropriate behavior and direct it to an appropriate behavior.  So, always carry a toy and some food treats in your pocket.  If your puppy is chewing on your leg, a sharp, high pitched "ouch" should be enough to stop the chewing.  When it turns its attention to you, reward the puppy with a food reward and redirect
it toward the correct toy.  The puppy will rapidly learn what to chew and what not to chew.

It is never too early to start your new puppy on obedience commands.  The smallest puppy can be taught to sit for a brief moment simply by holding a treat up over its head and asking it to sit.  Remember to reward the behavior with the treats from your pocket and high verbal praise, and repeat this exercise briefly several times a day.  Soon you will have even the youngest puppy sitting every time you ask.  And, don't let anyone tell you
differently, beagles are definitely trainable.

New arrivals need to be seen by your veterinarian within a few days of entering your house.  Your veterinarian needs to meet the new puppy, look 
for any health problems, and explain needed health care.  Your puppy will have had his first vaccination prior to this visit, so your vet shouldn't have to give him one at that time, however some vets like to start their shots over, for
whatever reason. There is no hard and fast rule for puppy vaccinations.  Many puppies get vaccinated every 3-4 weeks between the approximate ages of 6 and 16 weeks.  Some need additional boosters at six months of age.  It is important to discuss with your veterinarian the diseases that your puppy will potentially be exposed to.  Even though many puppies will receive
similar vaccines, the exact mixture is determined by the disease prevalencein your area, the exposure the dog will have, and other factors.  Show puppies in Ohio may need different vaccinations than house dogs in Connecticut, so check with your veterinarian.

Puppies should also be checked for skin and intestinal parasites and started, if appropriate, on heartworm preventive.  Young puppies do not need a blood test to check for heartworms.  Instead, they are started immediately on preventive medication.  Additionally, it is critical that young dogs be examined and treated for internal and external parasites as soon as
possible.  Intestinal worms will rob a puppy of strength and vitality, while other parasites, such as fleas and whipworms, can lead to a fatal loss of blood.  Therefore, all puppies should be treated for hookworms and roundworms, and checked for other parasites.

Once your puppy has a clean bill of health and is protected by puppy vaccinations, it is time to start socializing the little one.  Exposing the dog to positive situations in a relaxed manner will help the dog adjust to a lifetime of unexpected stimuli.  Puppies can go to the mailbox and greet the mail carrier.  Hand the mail carrier one of your treats and have him or her offer it to the puppy and make friends.  Stroll through your neighborhood, have children and adults meet the puppy in a positive manner, and ask them to give the puppy a small treat.  Take a ride in the car, a walk in the park, and pick up the children at school with the puppy by your side.  If
these introductions are carried out quietly and happily, and the puppy is not stressed or put into too many places too rapidly, the dog learns that meeting people and pets of all ages is a great thing to do.  Learn to 'read' your puppy's behaviors.  If it looks overtired, overexcited, or
overstressed, it is time to stop socializing and head for home.

Finally, once you have your veterinarian's okay, enter the little one in puppy classes.  These are a wonderful place to meet human and canine friends, and start obedience work.  The instructors can help answer behavior questions and direct you to resources that may be of help.  Other owners of young puppies can share stories of success and failure, and offer support. You may even find enough puppies to form a play group.

Socialization and exercise are important for puppies.  Puppies that get adequate exercise behave better and sleep better than those that spend their lives in crates.  Just make sure that the puppy is not over-exercised, over-stressed, or hurt by bigger dogs.  Most puppies are too little and fragile to play with adult dogs and should never be left along with one, even if the adult dog is your own pet.  There is just too great a risk of damage to the puppy.  After the dogs adjust to each other and the little puppy grows for several months, you can consider leaving them together.  The same advice holds true for the puppy and other pets, such as cats.  Puppies
should never be left alone with another pet, as each animal may be severely injured.  This common sense advice also applies to puppies and young child, as either may harm the other.

It takes a strong commitment and a sense of humor to raise a puppy.  Make sure you take time to enjoy your puppy's adorable behaviors.  Within a matter of months the little one will enter adolescence, a time of life that brings new pleasures and new challenges to all.

Plan on a minimum of six weeks for your puppy to fully adapt to your household.  Then be prepared for more changes as the little one grows through adolescence into adulthood.  No matter how big they look, it will take one to two years for dogs to reach maturity and settle into adult behaviors.  Make sure you enjoy the journey along the way.
Any finally, please consider a microchip.  Microchips are tiny identification chips that can be placed under the skin on your dogs back between his shoulders.  The chips are a permanent, traceable method to identify your new dog.  It takes a few seconds to inject under the skin, a few dollars to register the dog with the national tracing company, and the dog is protected for life.