St.Bernard puppySo, you got a new puppy for Christmas? For many new dog owners the red-ribbon reveal is an exciting time. But the cuteness level can drop once your new pup gets its teeth around your phone or Italian leather shoes.

Sadly, many dogs and cats given as holiday gifts find their way to a local shelter after their short-lived owners find raising a pet too difficult.

True, a new puppy can be a struggle. Potty training, chewing, and sleepless nights are all part of having a new furry member added to the family. But making the decision to purchase a pet means making a commitment to help them through their awkward years, and loving them long after their first Christmas.

Make sure you pet is fully equipped with their own bed, chew toys, feeding bowls, collar, leash, and kennel. Many people dislike kennel training but I advocate for it one hundred percent. Puppies love having their own place to go to, and a kennel is suppose to be a place of comfort, a place they love, not fear. This is where kennel training can go wrong; when owners use the kennel as solely a disciplinary tool. A kennel is also a great tool when potty training your dog.

The key to the right size kennel is one that is large enough for your dog to stand up in and turn around. Dogs will not relieve themselves where they sleep, and a kennel that allows just enough room for slumber helps puppies learn bladder control.

Now it’s time to puppy proof the house. It’s inevitable your new pup will chew, and their concept of what is fair game or not is nonexistent. Because of this have all members of the family get into the habit of closing bedroom doors, bathroom doors or entrances into any room you do not want your new puppy to roam into unattended. This helps eliminate the desire to look for shoes to chew on, or dark places to make a mess. Also, make sure things you don’t want destroyed are kept on higher ground.

Once you’ve puppy proofed the house, it’s time to set up a schedule. Dogs do very well with a routine, and a routine helps when potty training. When I rescued my dog I found the easiest way to potty train her was to take her out every two hours. This is about how long they can go before looking for a place to relieve themselves, and beating her to the punch was always preferred. I would take her to the same place every time and say the word “business.” When she would relive herself I would praise her by saying, “Good business!” This taught her to associate the word ‘business’ with the action of going to the bathroom, and she knew when I took her to that specific spot what she was expected to do.

Another great tool my pup and I benefited from was training sessions. One of the biggest reasons dogs can become unruly is because the owner does not know how to train their dog. It is often said the owner must be trained first, then the dog. By learning how to read my dog, and how to communicate with her, we were able to successfully overcome typical puppy stages like jack-russel-puppydestroying plants or chewing up television remotes.

Having a new puppy in the house can be fun and overwhelming however, maintaining patience is the best tool you as a new owner can do. Your new companion has the ability to be a wonderful friend and companion, and ‘bad dogs’ are the result of owners who are not willing to train their dog or give them the attention they need and deserve. Taking daily walks, socializing your dog with others and following through with training are all tools that prove to provide great results, keeping you happy and your new pup out of the local pound.