You have a unique opportunity to mold your puppy into the dog of your dreams.  Without your guidance, your puppy will likely get into a lot of trouble.

There is no need to wait until your puppy has received all of his vaccinations.  According to many veterinarians and dog training professionals, there is a greater risk that your dog will be surrendered to an animal shelter or euthanized due to lack of early socialization than he will be to contract a life-threatening disease as long as you take some simple precautions.

​Here are some resources to confirm these findings:


A puppy's critical socialization "window" is from 4 to 16 weeks of age.  During this time, you should plan to introduce your puppy to everyone & everything you expect he may be exposed to over his lifetime.  It is equally as important that these introductions are always positive, so you will want to avoid situations where you cannot control the outcome.  Dog parks can be great and they can also be very dangerous.  If a puppy has a negative run-in with another dog at the park, this could scar him for life leaving him to be fearful and/or reactive to dogs as he gets older.  

For more great resources on puppy socialization visit The Pet Professional Guild and download the Puppy Socialization Check List.

Looking for a veterinarian for your new puppy?  Visit Andover Animal Hospital and ask about Free Puppy Playtime, part of your puppy's wellness package that I run twice a month at their Andover location!

Proactive Puppy

The Whole Dog Journal has a vast library of articles relating to puppies as well as adult dogs.  It offers advice on health, wellness, behavior, toys, food, treats, and more.  Start you subscription today and give your puppy the best life possible!

Puppy Priorities

When you first bring your puppy home, it seems like everything is a priority...and it is!  Use this list as a guide so you don't get overwhelmed and you also don't set the groundwork for mis-behaviors to occur.

  1. Set boundaries the moment you bring your puppy home and stick to them.  You are setting the stage for a lifetime of behaviors.

  2. Limit your puppy's access to areas of the house that are "puppy proofed"​ and build a positive association with his crate for times when you cannot supervise him.
  3. Socialization should be your top priority outside of the home. Take your puppy with you to as many places as you can even if it means carrying him.  Introduce him to as many different people and friendly dogs as you can.  Set a goal of one new person, place, or thing per day!
  4. Bite inhibition is next on the list of musts! Puppy nipping is by far the most common complaint I hear from my clients especially when their are children in the house.  A puppy's bite inhibition period ends around 18 weeks, so you don't have a lot of time.
  5. ​Potty training...Gone are the days of pushing your puppy's nose in their mess to "make them understand".  If you don't catch him in the act, the moment is lost.  Do not scold him!  Instead, simply clean up the mess and make a conscious effort to supervise him better so he doesn't have the opportunity to make a mistake again.  
  6. ​Basic commands are essential to having a well-mannered dog.  It is never too early to start teaching your dog to sit, stay, come when called, etc.  It need not be a formal training session, but lessons throughout the day.  Teaching your puppy to come when called is the first command you should work on and you should never stop!  This is a life-saving command and should be "refreshed" throughout your dog's life.  You can then use the Come command to call him away from chewing on the furniture, chasing the kids, barking at the neighbor walking by, etc.  When you call him to come and he does, you now have created the opportunity to reward him for doing something good, while taking his focus away from doing something you don't want him doing.  Then he doesn't received your attention while partaking in a mis-behavior.