Practical puppy tips for new dog owners

A woman with brown hair holding a small blonde Cockapoo puppy in her arms.

There’s lots of advice out there for new puppy parents – it can be overwhelming to take in! As a new dog owner, the most important people to listen to are your vet, nutritionist, and behaviourist, who will be able to give you lots of specialist advice to keep your pup happy and healthy. But I’d love to introduce you to a few practical puppy tips from a fellow dog guardian.

My Cockapoo puppy Lyra is the light of my life, but there are definitely a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way that I wish I’d known when we first brought her home…

1 – Don’t believe all the puppy tips you read on the internet

Unfortunately, when it comes to dog advice, there’s lots of information out there, and not all of it comes from good sources. For example, dog training is unregulated, so as pet parents, it becomes our responsibility to find the right people to trust with our pups.

Don’t take every Instagram carousel or TikTok video to heart – find yourself someone qualified who works with modern and science-based methods. Another tip – any worthwhile behaviourist will want to have a LOT of background info about your dog, their health, and your lifestyle, before they will give you any advice.

A blonde Cockapoo puppy lying on a carpet floor.

Lyra on her first day home – she was so small!

2 – Read all about it

The internet isn’t the only place you can learn about your new furry family member – there are some really fantastic books written by wonderful people that I really recommend! Here are just a few of my favourites…

Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy by Steve Mann

The go-to resource for puppy parents, Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy is stuffed full of helpful and practical advice for new dog owners! It’s also really easy to read and take in (especially in Audiobook format) and covers all the basics from toilet training to dog-on-dog etiquette.

Doggie Language by Lili Chin

Doggie Language is a wonderful encyclopaedia of all the fascinating body language your little puppy is capable of. Dogs might not speak like us, but they are always communicating with their body! This is an especially good one to read with kids, as the simple language and cute illustrations makes it easy for all ages to take in.

Be Right Back by Julie Naismith

The full title of this book is a bit of a mouthful – Be Right Back!: How To Overcome Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety And Regain Your Freedom – but it’s a new dog owner’s bible to teaching your puppy to be on their own, with kind and gentle methods. No need to leave them to “cry it our” with Julie’s tried and tested method!

A Cockapoo puppy sitting on grass wearing a blue harness.

Wearing our favourite Twiggy Tags harness.

3 – Don’t be stingy with the dog treats

When you have a puppy, you’re going to want to bring treats with you everywhere. Like, seriously – everywhere. Our little balls of energy are like firecrackers, which gives us a wonderful opportunity to shape their behaviour and make their lives fun and enriching with food. But if you’re worried about your puppy’s weight, go for soft treats that you can break into almost crumb-sized pieces, or bring some kibble with you on outings as a healthy alternative to commercial treats.

When it comes to treats, I recommend setting up “treat stations” around your home – little pots of all your dog’s favourite snacks, so you can quickly grab some positive reinforcement when you need it! I personally love a bumbag, which allows me to bring treats with me everywhere we go, and leaves my hands free for practical puppy management.

4 – Set some ground rules

To set your puppy up for success, set some house ground rules that everyone – kids and adults – will follow. A good example is, “When puppy is sleeping, leave them be”. You may also want to set some clear but reasonable boundaries for your puppy, like whether they are allowed on the sofa and bed, but make sure you communicate these kindly. Your dog isn’t born with knowledge of what they “should” or “shouldn’t” do, and you can’t explain rules to them in the same way you can explain them to your kids.

Patience, perseverance and management are your best friends here. Make sure everyone sticks to your rules and boundaries – consistency and predictability will help your puppy pick things up more quickly!

A woman with brown hair carrying a blonde Cockapoo puppy.

After her first groom – looking much neater! Stay on top of grooming for fluffy pups.

5 – You don’t need to dominate your puppy

Like we’ve said, there are some dodgy people out there claiming to be dog trainers. “Dominance” or “alpha” theory is a great example, because while this theory has been thoroughly debunked, many internet dog trainers still refer to the theory and claim that it is true.

When you’re working with a trainer or behaviourist, look for someone who is Master educated, who keeps up to date with new research and findings, and has qualifications from credible organisations. This blog post by behaviourist Roz Pooley is a good place to start.

6 – Slow but steady wins the race

There can be a lot of pressure on new dog owners. From socialisation to training, there’s an expectation for puppy parents to be totally on top of things 100% of the time and raise an absolutely perfect dog. The internet certainly hasn’t helped with some of these expectations!

Try not to let these pressures get to you – take things at a pace that you and your puppy can handle. It’s absolutely true that old dogs can learn new tricks. Dogs learn throughout their lives, so make sure you enjoy them while they’re little and don’t let all the training and expectations get in the way.

To help with the feelings of overwhelm, why not download a FREE activity tracker to keep on top of training, food, sleep, toilet training, baths and more?

A cockapoo puppy standing next to a dog toy.

Before her first groom (can you tell?) with her favourite Christmas present!

7 – The power of play!

Your puppy is just a baby – and they will love to play! The enthusiasm and joy of a puppy playing is a wonderful thing to witness. And play has countless benefits – from giving puppies more confidence, helping them learn new things and keeping their brain active, and encouraging bonding with their humans. Take time to play with your puppy!

 

Bringing home your new puppy is so special and exciting. Hopefully these practical puppy tips will set you and your puppy up for success in their new home! If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with a friend, and following us on Instagram.

Ps. Being a new dog owner is bloody hard work! I think you’ve earned a “treat yourself” gift. Read our article about the best gift ideas for dog lovers – why not pick out something special for yourself?

Hollie Alexa Moxham

Hollie Alexa Moxham

Illustrator and designer behind Woof by Hollie.