That first week with your Shih Tzu can be such a joy. The puppy is slowly starting to become a part of the family and when he isn’t snoozing, he is being a cute little ball of energy. He is growing quickly, much faster than you could imagine, and you will find that you are taking more and more photographs of him each day.
While you have gotten through the first day and made the various introductions to your puppy, there is still a lot that goes on in the first week. It can be a harrowing time with middle of the night potty breaks and crying for his littermates but it can also be very rewarding.
Generally, when you bring a puppy home, you will be given a number of instructions on how to care for your Shih Tzu puppy properly. Many Shih Tzu breeders send home a puppy care package and this includes some instructions on
the puppy’s first week and first few months. It is important that you read these papers because it contains insight into your dog that is valuable. In addition, there may
be kennel specific recommendations that you should follow.
If your puppy didn’t come with a care package, don’t worry. In general, the first week of a Shih Tzu’s life in his new home is similar to the first week in any puppy’s new life.
Feeding and Watering:
It is very important during the first week your puppy is home with you that you follow the advice of your breeder concerning feeding and watering. Don’t switch to a different food since this will upset your puppy’s stomach. Instead, use the same food and then gradually introduce the new food.
Usually, you will feed your puppy three times a day. Do not allow your puppy to free feed since it will make it almost impossible to see how much he is eating or when he will need to go out. If he doesn’t eat, pull up the food and then place it back down later.
With water, it is recommended that you start with bottled water until your puppy is used to your tap water. Don’t use ice cold water as this can upset your puppy’s stomach as well and like the food, don’t allow access to water all the time.
It is never too early to start housetraining and it can begin the moment your puppy arrives home. Make sure you take your puppy out after he has eaten and don’t follow the old 20 minute after a meal rule. I have seen some dogs eliminate almost immediately after a meal and some puppies last upwards of an hour before they have to go. If you pay attention, you can become familiar with his schedule.
Start training your puppy:
No, you aren’t going to be going to be starting with commands this week but you can start training your puppy by giving clear rules and sticking with them. Don’t give in to your Shih Tzu puppy, no matter how cutely he looks at you. If he is chewing something he shouldn’t be, break the action with a loud noise to distract him and then remove him from the activity.
Also, follow through on your own rules. If he isn’t supposed to be on the furniture, then don’t let him up when he is small. Establishing the rules during the first week is a good way to lay the foundation for training.
Winding Down in the Evenings:
During your first week, it is important to start an evening routine. This means that your puppy will know what to expect and will know when it is bedtime. Don’t give him any food or water after a certain time each night and take him outside about 15 minutes before you go to bed.
When you do put him to bed, make sure that he is comfortable with a hot water bottle, never use an electric blanket, and an alarm clock. This provides him with comfort. I personally find that crate training is the best way to start bed time and it keeps him from wandering at night and getting hurt.
Oh, those sleepless nights:
Life with a new puppy isn’t easy and in many ways it is similar to having a new baby. You will be up many times during the night to take him outside so be prepared to be a little tired.
The best thing to do at night is to set up his crate beside your bed. This will give you the opportunity to comfort him when he is sad and to also hear him when he first wakes up. It is imperative, whether you feel like it or not, to take him outside the minute you hear him stirring.
This will begin laying the foundation for housetraining and will make the task much easier. (And yes, you should start this on day one).
Take a visit to the vet:
The last thing that I am going to mention is something that is often overlooked by new puppy owners and that is the vet visit. While many people wait for a week or two, generally, there is another set of vaccinations due around the time your puppy comes home. Even if there isn’t, it is important to get a health check done on your puppy to ensure that he will remain healthy and happy.
Once you get through the first week, you will be on your way to the second week and then all the other weeks of your Shih Tzu’s life.
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