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How to Be on "Puppy Time"

New puppies are fun -- and they can be overwhelming!

I often hear new puppies being compared to new human babies, and the time and care demands can feel the same -- as well as the exhaustion resulting from late-night wake-ups! But a dog's puppyhood doesn't last as long as a baby's "babyhood." In just a few weeks things should start to settle down, and in a couple of months your household will be more or less back to normal, as everybody adjusts!

So if you're feeling overwhelmed by a new puppy, take heart -- and here are some tips for how to best cope.

1) Supervision: Your puppy needs to be supervised by you whenever it's awake (unless it's in a crate or puppy pen.) This is how you redirect them from chewing the wrong things or having a housebreaking accident.

2) You can stack the odds in your favor to prevent chewing or housebreaking accidents by puppy-proofing and by having an assortment of chew toys -- pups have different preferences as to hard, soft, edible, etc, so experiment with any safe chew toy. Prevent housebreaking accidents by taking your puppy outside frequently (at least every hour or so, more often if he/she hasn't pottied in a while -- also right after mealtimes and naptimes.)

3) Puppies sleep a lot, and use that to your advantage! The "play hard, explore hard, sleep hard" mindset of most puppies is going to be your best friend. While the puppy is active and engaged you can play with it, do tiny training sessions, and supervise supervise supervise! Within a couple of hours your pup should be conked out and then go ahead and do your laundry or your dishes. (Though don't beat yourself up if you elect to nap alongside the pup, instead of laundry/dishes.)

4) Your main training priorities for a young pup are housebreaking, chew training, managing puppy nipping/mouthiness, and socialization. Socialization? Yes! You've got to cobble together a socialization schedule! Puppies should meet at least 100 new people within the first three months of life. Take your puppy only to safe areas (no unfamiliar dogs or places where unvaccinated dogs may have been) and be sure that it is enjoying its socialization time and does not become overwhelmed.

5) Enjoy your new puppy! Dogs just don't last long enough. Some day your dog will be old and gray, and you will think back on these days with a smile. Take a lot of photos! (My new puppy Halo is pictured here. Collective "Awwwww!")

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