Below are some guidelines to help set your new puppy up for success.
Teaching your puppy proper introductions and socialization with people and other dogs is crucial. This does not mean letting them meet any dog or any stranger. Controlled settings with neutral strangers and respectful dogs will go a long way. Avoid the dog park where there is a chance your puppy could have an unpleasant or stressful experience that leaves a lasting impact. Let him/her meet extended family and friends with proper introductions. Visit the vet office and make it a positive experience to see the staff members. Do not let strangers approach without permission because even if your puppy is extremely friendly, you don’t want to start encouraging interactions where they are jumping on people, unable to contain or control themselves and not paying attention to you. Don't be afraid to say No if somebody asks to touch/pet your puppy.
Within reason, expose your puppy to as much as possible. Auditory, tactile and visual stimuli. Take them for car rides. Walk them in populated areas. Take them to dog friendly stores. Play loud noises (fireworks, thunder) on YouTube. Let them walk on tarps, unsteady footing, grating, etc. Let them see cars driving on the road. Cyclists. Rollerbladers. Joggers. Other passing dogs. The more you expose, the more they will be desensitized.
The crate is beneficial in many ways. It can be used in the car as a safer method of travel. If your pet is ever hospitalized at the veterinary clinic they will be crated. Most importantly it should be a spot you can put them in your house where they feel safe and are not able to get into trouble. Building independence helps to prevent separation anxiety. If you’re not home and are leaving your puppy loose, nobody is holding them accountable for their actions. This is where bad habits can form (destruction, barking, counter surfing etc). Play and teach crate games. Make the crate a fun space where they get yummy chewy treats and durational toys. Generally you want to start with a small crate and increase the size as your puppy grows. At least until they’re mature they should be familiar and comfortable with crating.
Building a routine with your puppy will help with overall structure and training but will also help with potty training. Try to keep the same routine daily with your feeding and walking schedule. It does not necessarily need to be the exact same times each day but moreso the same order of routine. This can carry forward into adulthood as well. A dog living with structure is often more balanced, calm and less needy. Teach your dog to understand that you will take them outside when its time, you will feed them when its time, you will take care of them. An example of this is when people teach their dogs to ring the doorbell to go outside. You may think this is a smart and handy trick. The downside to this is that most dogs will end up abusing it. They will ring the doorbell to go smell the roses and chase squirrels on their own time. Instead, you should take your dog outside, give them a command to use the bathroom and bring them back inside. It’s much more structured and has a much less chance of your dog taking advantage of you.
Feed as much of your puppies meal as you can by hand. Train the basics with these meals. Sit. Down. Recalls. Take the entire daily feeding amount and use that throughout the day to train. You make yourself an increased value, you make food an increased value and you decrease the chances of resource guarding. Make your puppy want to work for you and engage with you. Putting food down in a bowl and leaving it down for the day is very boring for your puppy. It will squash his/her food drive and make things more difficult to train later on.
If you can’t supervise your puppy, he/she should be crated. When your puppy is loose in the house with you, he/she should have a leash dragging behind so you always have the ability to redirect or stop your puppy from going somewhere they shouldn’t. This will help prevent accidents in the house or becoming destructive (chewing furniture). As your puppy grows you can start to introduce the “place” command which will act as an area to put him/her for down time, boundary training and for use during distractions (doorbell, guests entering etc).
There are some things that need to be earned. Getting up onto couches or the humans bed is a privilege, not a right. Don’t automatically allow your puppy onto either of these areas. They should be asked to come up and just as easily should be asked to get off. It’s cute when your small puppy wants to cuddle but don’t forget these puppies turn to adult dogs and sometimes may take advantage of these comfy spots. You don’t want to end up with a dog who growls and resource guards when you ask them to move from the couch or bed. Set the boundaries in place from day one. That’s your bed and that’s your couch. Permission needs to be granted first.
Make sure to have an array of puppy toys and chews. Soft toys, balls, puppy safe bones (benebone, nylabone). You can stuff a Kong or Westpaw Toppl with soft or raw food and then freeze. The Kong wobbler is a food dispensing toy that you can put treats or kibble into and will make your puppy use his/her brain to work for the food. Mental stimulation is very important and helps reduce destruction and other habits that may come with boredom.