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Top Ten Puppy Tips

It’s been over 3 months since we’ve had a dog in the house. But it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve had an 8-week old puppy! There’s a difference. As you know, Ryan and I brought our little guy home last Friday. We’ve spent the last few weeks getting the house ready for his arrival… His crate was setup in the family room, a dog bed in our bedroom, the toy basket was out, water/food bowls were ready, and a plastic pool was in the yard. To say we were excited to fill our house back up with a furbaby was an understatement.

We’ve now had Henry for going on 4 days now and we’re completely in love. This past weekend was spent getting him introduced to the house, settling into a routine, and showing him off! He now has the lay of the land and is making himself at home. Yesterday he mastered the stairs… he can go up and down and follows me around everywhere. It wasn’t until last night when I was tidying up the house that I realized… I’ve got my shadow back.

When I go out to get the mail, grab something from the garage, refill the bird-feeder, do the laundry, water the plants… you get the idea… he’s right there by my side…. and it’s been great. It’s what I’ve missed most since we lost our Jackie boy. It’s an amazing feeling those first few days of building trust with man’s best friend.

I’m taking advantage of his 11 pounds of cuteness and bringing him along with me on errands. I have a beach bag that I plopped him into and it’s just big enough for his head to pop out the top. You should’ve seen the other shopper’s reactions… they loved him! This past weekend, we went into Martins, Best Buy, and Home Depot. Ryan and I ventured out twice without Henry to get him used to being on his own. Given the gadget girl that I am, I setup this sweet baby cam so we can watch him while we’re gone (highly recommend the Belkin Netcam!). There is a volume button to hear if he’s barking and a button where I can speak into the webcam speakers — very cool!

So far, it’s going great with Henry! We’ve gotten into a routine of things and he’s almost sleeping through the night (with us, of course!). We crate him when we leave the house and play/snuggle/play/snuggle when we’re home.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “top ten” blog post! In the spirit of this past weekend, I thought I would post some top ten tips to help prepare you for bringing a puppy home.

  1. Get your camera ready… as a photographer, this is an obvious first point. If you don’t have a camera handy, backup your Smartphone and be sure to have plenty of room available on your phone to soak up the cuteness! Henry is an 8-week old 11-pound chocolate lab… so pretty much anything he does is cute! Whether you’re watching him sleep, run, go down/up the stairs, swim, (etc.)… it’s the cutest thing ever! You’ll want to snap away at some cute photos to always remember their tininess. If you’re on Instagram, start a unique hashtag so you can build a fun storyboard of photos/videos. Mine is #lifewithmyhenry
  2. Knock out chores during puppy’s nap… I’ve heard the phrase “sleep when the baby sleeps”… this term can similarly be applied to your new puppy. For example, put your laundry away while your puppy is sleeping — otherwise he’ll want to help by chewing the hangers, laying on your clothes, intertwine between your legs while your hanging clothes up, tug at the clothes so they fall of the hanger… repeat.
  3. Silence likely means trouble… Puppies are like toddlers. If they are not sleeping then they are likely scurrying around exploring to anything they can get their mouths and paws on (this including but not limited to: laptop chargers, flip flops, lamp cords, etc.). Make sure you don’t turn your back for too long as they like to get into mischief. See my Instagram video via #lifewithmyhenry for a video demonstration with my fireplace tool set.
  4. Establish boundaries… Now, you have to cut your puppy some slack because he/she is after all, a puppy. But establishing rules early needs to be set from the beginning. The first priority for us was for Henry to learn his name before we brought in other command words (use their name as much as possible). If he’s getting into something he shouldn’t we’ll say a firm “no” with one loud handclap — that gets his attention and he usually will stop what he’s doing. Even though they’re cute and it’s hard to discipline… you don’t want him/her getting used to getting away with things. (Henry already has a cute pout when I flick his nose if he’s biting… he walks over to the corner of the room and lays down, putting himself in timeout.)
  5. Keep your closet door closed… No explanation needed here (unless you’re looking for a reason to go shoe shopping). This also includes doors to other bedrooms, bathrooms, the office, etc. where you don’t want your little furbaby to explore without you following along behind him.
  6. Use sturdy water bowls… Most puppies (particularly lab puppies) love the water. So any chance they get to play in it, they will. I put a water bowl out on the porch for Henry this past weekend and within 2 seconds he had his front paws in the bowl while he was scooping the water out and flipped the bowl over… use a sturdy bowl so they can’t make a mess 🙂
  7. Be consistent… if you’re getting your puppy from a breeder, ask what puppy food they’re using. This way, you can purchase the same kind and gradually mix it with whatever food you plan to use. This way a drastic change in food (in addition to a new environment) doesn’t upset their stomach. Feed your puppy at the same time every morning and every night. Have multiple (sturdy) water bowls around the house and make sure they know they’re there. Each time they wake up from a nap… take them outside to do their business. This consistency will help ease the transition into a (potty-trained) routine.
  8. Establish security… Keep their crate in a room you’re frequently in and keep the door open. This will allow your puppy to go in/out as they please and hopefully start to go in there voluntarily to take a nap/play with toys/etc. and associate it as a “safe” place versus a place you go to when they misbehave.
  9. Enjoy the snuggles… puppies sleep, alot! They’ll run around and play for about an hour or so then flop down wherever and have a solid 1-2 hour nap. Henry has been a snuggle machine and I’m loving every minute of it. He won’t be 11-pounds forever. This past Sunday he hopped into the plastic pool in the yard and immediately after was ready for a nap. He walked over to me and crawled in my lap while I was sitting in the chair. My dress was soaked but that 1-hour snuggle session was so worth it.

Of course, they’re plenty more tips but these are some of the highlights. If you have other fun tips, please comment below! If you’re on the fence about bringing a dog into your family… do it! They are such incredible animals, loyal, loving, playful, and will change your life!

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