- Research the breed. You might want to do this before, especially if you have specific things you want or things you don't want. I don't think you have to, though. I do think researching the breed after you get the little pup is important so that you can have a better understanding of what their strengths and weaknesses are and also what kind of care they need.
- Puppy proof an isolation area. We didn't do this right away. When we were gone, Kirby was in his kennel, but when we were home, Kirby was roaming free. Purchasing a baby gate and giving Kirby an isolation area saved us. You see, puppies, much like babies, act up when they are overly tired. When their behavior gets so bad that you can't stand it anymore, put them in the isolation, put up the baby gate, grab a stiff drink and ignore them.
- Establish a schedule. The minute Kirby stepped foot in our house, he was on a schedule. I think this helps the puppies get some structure to their day so they know when to nap, when to poop, when to play, when to eat.
- Sign up for a training class. I can honestly say that I don't know what I would have done without Kirby's training classes. And I kind of knew how to train him. The best part about the training classes are that they really tire the dog out, so you get this awesome hour of training and then you get a sleeping dog.
- Work on training everyday. This might sound like overkill, but once we started the training classes, we did at least two 15-minute training sessions at home everyday. Anytime Kirby would start really acting up, we would go get a handful of his kibble and do some training. After doing this for a few weeks, we were able to do less training, but in the first few weeks of having him at home, the training worked to both teach the dog that he had to do what we told him and also gave us some peace of mind that the dog could actually be trained.
- Make your own dog toys. Dog toys are expensive and a lot of dogs can chew through them quickly. A friend had gotten a puppy a few weeks before we got Kirby and she told me about several different DIY dog toys. It was a real money saver and Kirby liked the homemade toys better than the store bought ones. For us, the best was the empty plastic water bottle. Although we had to put the bottle in a sock because Kirby is terrified of plastic. That's not a joke. He is terrified of plastic items.
- Take time away from the dog. I have a hard time with this one. But, I remind myself that dogs don't need constant attention and toilets won't clean themselves. I have a lot of guilt that I work during the day and Kirby has to be alone that whole time. I often tried to overcompensate by never putting him in isolation when we were home. That only left me tired and frustrated. It's always healthy to take some time away from the dog. They honestly won't remember it. They are noodle heads.
Kirby has been so much fun and so frustrating at the same time. The other night I had gotten really mad at him for nipping me too hard when we were playing. I put him in isolation. When I let him and went back to sit on the couch, Kirby jumped up next to me and laid down with his head in my lap and fell asleep cuddled against me. He's sweet like that and it melts away all of his annoying little habits.