Puppies For Dummies
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Prepping your home for a new puppy is much like setting up a nursery. Like formal preparations for bringing home a baby, readying the house before you get your puppy will take a load off your mind when the day finally arrives.

Puppy's room

Your puppy needs her own space to get away from the hubbub. Because a tired puppy can become ornery (just like you), designate a quiet area that can be darkened like a child's nursery. Whether you choose a crate or a gated room, make it cozy by laying down a flat mat and a couple of toys to occupy her when she's restless (think pacifier). Avoid fluffy beds or cushions because both can encourage chewing or accidents. A radio can be placed nearby to play calming music while you're out of the room.

An especially helpful product for puppies is called a SnugglePuppy, which mimics the warmth and comfort of a pup's mom. The substitute companion has a pocket for heating packs and has a motorized beating heart. These features make the SnugglePuppy ideal for easing your puppy's transition from her first family to her final one.

Free play zones

Designate a free play zone, which is an enclosed room for play and interaction. A carpet-free space is ideal — especially if your puppy isn't housebroken. Roll up area rugs too because the fringe and corners may tempt a pup to chew, and the absorbent texture may prompt elimination. Tape wires down, remove low-sitting temptations, and place your shoes elsewhere. You can also create a play station in this room (see the next section).

If your free play zone will correspond with another pet's domain, reorganize their area well in advance of the puppy's arrival. For example, if your cat's bowls and litter box are within the puppy's area, relocate them ahead of time so that your cat won't feel displaced by the new arrival.

Play stations

Help your puppy identify an area of the free play zone that is home base. This area will be your puppy's play station. Place a flat mat, folded quilt, or bed in a spot set off or portioned by walls. Put your puppy's toys and bones on the mat, and if possible, arrange her dishes nearby. Sit there with your puppy and treat her so she thinks that area is special. If you make this area the focal point of your interactions, your puppy will bond to it quickly.

As you introduce new rooms in the house, either bring your play station or create a permanent one in this room. Your puppy should have a pre-established play station in each room you plan to share.

If you're adopting an older puppy, create play stations in every room and she'll always feel welcomed.

Feeding areas

Feed your puppy by her play station in her free play zone or, if she's easily distracted, in her crate. Place one dish for water and one for food. Take up the bowls at appropriate times and wash the dishes after every feeding.

The route

Whether you're paper training or teaching your puppy to go potty outside, decide on a route through shared rooms to the door or papered location. Place papers in the decided area or select a door and potty area no more than 10 to 20 feet from your home's entrance.

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