The day you bring your puppy home for the first time can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Exciting because you’re introducing a new member to the family, but terrifying because you’re responsible for another living thing.
You also have to keep in mind that this pet you just brought home, has been separated from their mother and siblings, and is probably sad, scared to be in a new environment, and in need of attention. So you’re the one that must step into the role as the puppy’s nurturer, and must feed it, help it to socialize with other humans and dogs, and house train it.
All this leads to a commonly asked question, “How much attention does my puppy need?”
How Many Hours of Attention Do They Need?
The younger a puppy is, the more attention and care they will need. It’s essential to establish a strong bond with your pooch during these early stages, and engrave in their minds that you’re their parent, and can be trusted. Also, use this bonding time to implement a feeding schedule, begin house training, and to socialize your pet.
A schedule creates structure for your puppy and establishes a routine, teaching them when it’s time to eat, sleep, play, and go outside to use the bathroom. Setting a schedule for your pet will make each day conveniently predictable, and will leave less room for chaos to creep into your guys’ day.
According to the Humane Society, a puppy can control their bladder up to one hour for every month of age. For example, a canine at 3 months old is capable of holding it for up to 3 hours. Try not to let your pet hold it longer than that, or the risk of your pup having an accident increases.
A reliable guideline to follow is to take your hound outside every 2-3 hours to use the bathroom. When my pet was a young pup, I specifically let him out to use the bathroom before bed, and right after he woke-up, played, ate, or drank water.
Also, I would consistently reward my pooch with praise or his favorite treat every time it went to the bathroom on the same spot outside, on his favorite patch of grass. Giving my pet a treat proved to be effective because it set an expectation for my puppy, and he eventually learned he would be incentivized whenever he went to that same spot.
But more importantly, do not reward your pet until it is completely finished going to the bathroom. Reward your pooch too soon, and it might forget to finish its business.
Feeding and Drinking
Creating a feeding schedule is critical to house training. Remember, if you can control when your puppy intakes food, then you can easily predict when he or she will need to go to the bathroom. In general, depending on breed and age, a puppy needs to be fed three to four times a day.
Although I had a strict feeding schedule for my canine, I always left a bowl of fresh water out for him to easily access, and drink whenever he needed to. I would never deprive my puppy of water, doing so could lead to dehydration.
But one issue I would face on a weekly basis was my pup would have accidents during the middle of the night. There were times I didn’t wake up on time to let him out, or he decided just to let it out.
So, one tip I found perusing the internet (Insert link), was to remove their bowl of water about 2 hours before bedtime to reduce the chances of having an accident during the middle of the night.
Socializing is an essential part of a puppy’s development because that is when it learns how to properly behave around other people and dogs. Exposing your canine to various social environments at an early age will help prevent inappropriate behavior, such as biting or barking. Also, socializing your puppy earlier can help prevent him or her from experiencing separation anxiety.
Start socializing your pet in increments. First, it starts with you, by constantly interacting with the young hound.
For example, talk and play with your companion. Then, as early as 3-4 weeks old, slowly start introducing your puppy to other people and dogs around the same age.
Once you feel your pooch is ready to graduate to bigger crowds and places, go ahead and introduce your puppy to new experiences.
Is there such thing as TOO much attention?
Of course, we want what’s best for our puppies, giving them all the attention in the world and everything they need, when they need it. Like anything else in life, there needs to be a balance.
If you give your puppy too much of your attention, they may become too dependent on your presence and may experience separation anxiety and whine when you’re gone.
Being left alone for the first time, or a simple change in routine can cause separation anxiety in your puppy. As a panic response, it may whine, cry, or go to the bathroom even if it is house-trained. Don’t be too hard on your pet or get angry; they just want you to be in their presence.
Here are some tips to help prevent your puppy from experiencing separation anxiety:
Start by preparing your pet friend for your departure. Leave the room for small increments, such as leave for 20 seconds, come back, then leave for one minute, then return, and so on and so forth.
Slowly but surely, your young canine will pick up on when you will depart and return. Combine this with an action or command that signals to your pet that you’re leaving, but will come back. This may seem a little extra, or tedious, but remember you’re trying to build good habits.
To help your pooch relax while you two are separated is to leave an article of clothing that has your scent on it. I liked to leave a sweater because those are soft. Also, to top it off, leave a toy or treat to keep them entertained.
Lastly, don’t make your departures and arrivals a big deal. Remember, your canine reacts to your energy. So if you don’t make a big deal when you come and go, neither will your puppy.
What If He or She Needs Attention All the Time?
Keep in mind, canines are pack animals, and it is only natural they need to be around other people or dogs. It is natural for them to want your attention. But let’s be honest, sometimes there are those moments where your young pup wants more attention than it really needs.
These are the times when they may exude attention-seeking behavior, such as whining, crying, destructive chewing, or jumping on you.
Before you read the following strategies to help eliminate attention-seeking behaviors in your puppy, be sure that you’re doing your part, and that your young pet is getting enough exercise and that you’re spending enough time with him or her.
Here are some solutions to stop attention-seeking behaviors in your puppy:
The silent treatment can turn into a battle of two wills, but my advice to you is to be strong and don’t let-up. The key to this strategy is to ignore-ignore-ignore. Don’t pet, talk, or even look at them.
Let your pooch know you mean business. Even one look at them while they are barking, crying, or exhibiting other attention-seeking behaviors may be viewed as a reward, further reinforcing their actions. Only acknowledge them when they are calm and ready to listen. Do so with a treat or praise.
If all else fails, try seeking the advice of an obedience coach. It doesn’t make you a bad pet owner; we all need help sometimes.
Owning a new pet is an exciting time, but will require much of it. Always remember to do things in increments. Keep in mind, the younger your pooch is, the more susceptible they are to viruses and other diseases, such as Parvovirus.
Be sure to take your pet friend to get its vaccinations at six weeks, nine weeks, and 12 weeks old. Also, wait at least two weeks after their last round of vaccinations before introducing and socializing your pet with other people and dogs.
The time and effort you invest from the beginning will lay the foundation for easier days in the future. Plan a schedule based on the principles mentioned above, and whatever else you feel is necessary for your puppy and lifestyle.
If at any time you’re not available, try to find a friend, neighbor, or family member to step-in to feed or let your canine out to use the bathroom, so there is no disruption in the puppy’s routine. Remember, your pet might not fully understand what’s going on, so they don’t know why you’re gone or when you’ll be coming back, so always plan ahead to make sure your puppy is given proper care.