Congratulations, you’ve got a new family pet. You’ve got a puppy. What a joy, what fun – what work. Are you ready?

To be a responsible dog owner, you must put in a lot of time and effort. You’ve done the first step and decided on a new family member. After arriving at home, what next? This addition to your family needs more than good food, vet care and house training.

House Training

Of course first comes house training so life with puppy is, well – cleaner. A good way to start is with a crate for the pup when you can’t be watching. If not a crate, then a confined area, with floors that are easily cleaned. Try to keep to a schedule, feeding four times a day and remembering that a puppy needs to go out almost immediately after eating. Never, ever spank or smack a puppy for soiling inside.

Decide on a command, something like “go pee” or “go potty” and be consistent – use the same phrase each and every time. Once the puppy “goes” praise him. Praise, praise and more praise as you give that yummy treat. If he goes inside, clean it, and do not scold or smack – you want positive reinforcement, not punishment. Soon you’ll be on your way to a housebroken pup, but remember to expect mistakes for several months.

Obedience

Next, you should enroll yourself and the puppy into a puppy obedience class. No one wants to be around an unruly, misbehaving dog – now is the time to teach those all-important manners, and puppy school is a great place for both of you to learn the correct way together.

Socialization

Socialization is a MUST. After the puppy has all the required immunizations, get her out – walks, pet shops, your kids’ ball games, parks – anywhere your puppy can meet new people and other dogs. Keeping your puppy away from children could result in a dog that is fearful; or worse – aggressive towards kids. A lot of exposure to the noise and exuberance of kids is a must for a well-adjusted and socialized dog. Encourage people of all ages to pet your puppy, being careful to watch closely so an over-enthusiastic child doesn’t hurt the puppy. Make sure that the dogs you expose your puppy to are friendly so your puppy isn’t harmed or frightened – some adult dogs do not tolerate puppy silliness. ASK before allowing your puppy near any dog.

Travel

Take the puppy in the car frequently so you have a dog that will travel well. There are many types of doggie car-seats that keep your dog elevated so he can see out the windows, while remaining confined and safe. There are also harnesses made to fasten directly to a seat belt for larger breeds. The key is comfort and safety for your dog. You don’t want him to become a missile in the case of an accident.

If you have pet-friendly family members or friends, be sure to take your puppy visiting so he can learn to be a polite guest. When he grows up, he’ll be welcome wherever you go if he knows how to mind his manners in other homes.

Time

Last, but certainly not least, spend a lot of time with your puppy. Let her learn that you are trustworthy, and dependable, and always looking out for her well-being and safety. When you’ve raised a puppy correctly, you’ll have a wonderful traveling companion, trusted friend, and a good canine citizen that others will enjoy having around.