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Puppy Parenting 101: Tips For New Puppy Parents

Today is March 23rd. Do you know what that means?

It’s National Puppy Day! Time to celebrate those adorable puppy faces with treats and pets.

Founded by Colleen Paige in 2006, National Puppy Day was created to “celebrate the unconditional love and joy that puppies bring to our lives and to raise awareness about the horrors of puppy mills.”

Every National Puppy Day, the goal is to have 10,000 puppies adopted from shelters and rescued by new or existing pet parents.

If you’re welcoming a new puppy into your family this National Puppy Day, here are a few things you should know:

  1. Choose a puppy that’s a lifestyle match for your family. When you’re looking for your puppy, take into consideration both the breed and size of the puppy full grown. This will give you an idea of whether you might have a very energetic headstrong dog like a terrier or a big couch potato like a lab mix.
  1. Evaluate different personalities within the litter and pick the personality best suited for you. Place the pups one at a time on the floor beside you and see who follows you when you walk. Are they active and curious or more laid back with good eye contact? You can take a trainer with you to help evaluate which one is your best match.
  1. Get your house puppy-ready before you arrive home. Get bowls, a crate, and a “bathroom spot” ready to go.
  1. Bring your pup home on a day when you can spend a few days at home with them, like on a Friday or when you have a few days off from work.


Being a puppy parent isn’t just a new domain for you. Your puppy is also experiencing a major life change too. Puppies learn from their mother and littermates the moment they are born. When they go to live with a new parent, they become their puppy’s teacher. This means your pup’s training for a life with people begins as soon as you take him into your arms. So, make sure you continue their learning immediately after taking them home. 

  1. Once home, take them straight to their bathroom spot and say the “go” cue word – from here on out, this word is what you will say to indicate that it’s potty time. When they “go” praise them and give them a treat. Continue to practice taking them out every hour and say their bathroom cue word so they will be able to learn their bathroom spot in one designated area.
  1. Build a routine with your pup. Set up a feeding and sleeping structure, update vaccinations, and designate time for your puppy to socialize with other puppies. Creating a solid structure for your dog will help them have less anxiety, learn better and trust you as our leader.
  1. Be cautious of the fear imprint stage. Between the ages of 8 and 11 weeks, puppies are in the fear imprint stage. This developmental stage comes from our ancestors, the wolves, as a survival mechanism. When wolf pups begin to emerge from their den at around this age, if they are frightened by something, like a bear or gunshot, they will be imprinted to be afraid of this forever. So, during this stage, be careful to avoid loud noises, crowds, or anything that might frighten your pup. Otherwise, he may always be afraid of that thing and never trust that it won’t hurt him.
This is a very exciting time for you and your pup! And as much as we want the puppy stage to last forever, pups do grow up fast. Enjoy every moment together with lots of cuddles and pets. Make sure to take a picture (or a few hundred) to capture all the adventures ahead.