Assisi Animal Sanctuary is Northern Ireland's largest independent animal welfare charity providing shelter for up to 200 companion animals - cats, dogs and rabbits.
Charity Reference No: NIC104594.
Puppies are wonderful aren’t they? Bundles of energy and fun, ready to learn and experience new things! However, it is hard work raising a puppy. Having a puppy in the home is like having a naughty toddler who is into everything and won’t take no for an answer, time, patience and consistency is required by the bucketful to help your puppy settle in and grow into a great family pet.
When thinking about taking on a puppy you will need to think about whether you have enough time to devote to teaching your puppy how to behave and to help him/her experience as many new things as possible so that he/she grows up into a well socialised individual. Make time to attend puppy classes where you will be shown how to teach your puppy basic manners and commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ and also how best to deal with typical puppy problems as they arise!
Breed research is essential, understand what characteristics your puppy is likely to develop as it grows. Sometimes it is hard to tell what their breed mix is if the mother and father is unknown, but some basic knowledge of what the most common breeds are like will stand you in good stead for being aware of what to expect as your puppy grows. The most common breed mixes we see here at Assisi are collie, labrador, jack russell and lurcher mixes, all of which are very different in terms of temperament and size.
Talk to friends and family who have had their dogs from they were puppies, let them tell you all their stories, the good and the bad! Like children, some puppies are easy while others throw every problem they can at you. How you deal with these problem will reflect in the adult dog. Talking to friends and family will give you a good idea of what you are letting yourself in for and also how rewarding it is watching your puppy grow up and mature into a wonderful family pet and companion.
When you bring your puppy home it is important to start as you mean to go on. Have clear boundaries and stick to them. Changing the rules will confuse and upset a puppy which can lead to anxiety issues such as inappropriate toileting or destructive behaviour. Don’t fuss over your puppy too much, give attention when it is due and don’t treat him/her like a baby. Treating a pup like a baby will cause it to become far too attached to you which can lead to separation anxiety later in life. By giving affection when is it due and on your terms you are teaching your puppy to be emotionally independent which will enable him/her to be much more settled and content later in life.
Don’t deny them attention or affection but they do need to learn that they cannot demand it. If you have a puppy that jumps up and down pulling at and barking at you demanding your attention ignore that behaviour. Wait until the puppy is calm and sitting quietly looking to make contact with you. Once the puppy has settled then praise him/her with attention, stick to this routine and the puppy will very quickly learn that sitting quietly in your presence will get your attention much quicker than demanding it will.
There is a lot more to raising a puppy, this is only the basic starting point. Soon we will have guidance leaflets available for download which will give you all the information you need to tackle any issues you may come across.
Raising a pup will be a rollercoaster ride but a fun one at that! Just remember they are blank canvasses and can only react to the training and things that they experience. Get it right from the start and things should progress smoothly. If you run into difficulties don’t panic, you haven’t failed the puppy, just ask for guidance so that you both can get back on the right track. Enjoy every minute, puppies grow fast!