Getting a new puppy is an exciting time. There are things to do with a puppy without putting them at risk for canine diseases like parvo and distemper.
Your new bundle of energy wants to go places, but until he gets completely vaccinated, you’ve got to be extra careful. The first week of a puppy’s life is really important as he gets used to you, his new environment and routine, and what you expect of him early on.
Before we brought our Cocker Spaniel puppy home, I made a checklist of all the supplies, food, and items we would need. Check out our new puppy checklist to be sure you’re ready for your bundle of furry joy.
Socializing a puppy within the first 16 weeks of life is crucial and sets him up for lifelong success. Until his vaccination series is complete, only take your new puppy outside to do potty and bring him back in. This is particularly important if your puppy only has his first set of shots.
Don’t visit dog parks or places that are frequented by unknown dogs with your new pup. If you have a fenced-in yard or area to yourself, allow him to use it with supervision.
There are plenty of things your puppy should do to socialize before the waiting period is over. Don’t wait until your puppy gets the green light from your veterinarian to start the socialization process.
My definition of a new puppy is 9 weeks to 16 months of age. The sooner you can do these, the better. Space them out and don’t overwhelm your pup. Slow and steady wins the race. You don’t want to provide too many stimuli and freak your pup out.
I’ve included a printable version of this list at the bottom. Feel free to print it and tape it to your refrigerator or include it inside your DogMinder to keep track of things.
Here are 101 things to do with a new pup in 100 days. We’ll also tell you what not to do with a puppy.
100 Things To Do With A Puppy In 100 Days
With each new experience and exposure, your puppy will gain more and more confidence. You want this to be a positive experience. If your pup seems a bit apprehensive, it’s okay. Slow, confidence-building sights and sounds make for a more well-rounded adult.
Have high-value special puppy treats ready to give in certain situations. Be cheerful and happy and talk in a kind tone and voice when interacting with your pup. If your puppy isn’t scared or phased by these 100 things, that’s awesome.
Should your pooch get scared by a new item or situation, he will eventually figure out that it’s okay and nothing to worry about. Keep your pup’s favorite toy nearby so you can give that to him to increase positive associations with everything he’s about to encounter.
People and Pets A New Puppy Should Meet or Encounter
If possible, your new pup should meet, encounter, or engage with various people in various situations to build up his confidence. If you are unable to engage your pup with all of these people, try your best to meet as many as you can.
I called neighbors and nearby friends to tell them when I would be outside with my Cocker Spaniel puppy, Alvin. If your puppy cannot meet all of these people, at least be sure he is exposed to them. You can do this by sitting in your car at a busy park and opening the window for him to see things.
- Opening the door to greet a new guest and allow puppy to watch
- Visiting a friend or family member at their home (if they have pets, ensure their vaccination status and health and if the pets are puppy friendly)
- Neighborhood people (I ask neighbors if they want to hold my new puppy)
- Elderly people
- Other family members in the household (who are taught when and how to handle the puppy)
- People of various races and genders
- Children (who are told in advance how to behave around puppies)
- Toddlers and teenagers
- People carrying deliveries or packages
- Mail carriers (at least see them, get used to them)
- People riding bicycles
- People on skateboards or rollerskates
- People in hats/helmets/wearing a hoodie
- People wearing glasses or sunglasses
- Dog groomer you plan to frequent: Call ahead and ask if they can come out to you if they have time, since completely vaccinated puppies should not visit the salon.
- Veterinarian and veterinary nurse/vet tech for handling at shot visits. (Our veterinarian invited team members to hold puppy Alvin)
- Trash collectors (Alvin watches from a window in our home when the garbage truck collects our trash each week )
- People in costumes (from safely inside your car if possible)
- Men and women of all shapes and sizes
- Squirrels/birds/outdoor critters
- Cats and dogs/other puppies
Sounds That Puppies Should Be Exposed To In 100 Days
Socializing your new puppy means getting them used to the sounds of the world. You probably have things around your house that make noise, some of which are listed below. You can also use YouTube and search for various videos of these sounds.
- Dogs barking
- Cats meowing
- Birds chirping
- Car starting up (done with your puppy in your vehicle).
- Car horn
- Radio and music
- Television playing
- People clapping
- People shouting
- Car doors opening and closing
- Doors in the home opening and closing
- The sound of dropping items (utensils, wallet, kitchen pots and pans)
- Microwave beeping
- Bathwater running
- Smoke alarm
- Doorbell ringing
- Knocking on the door
- Pots and pans moving around/being used
- Vacuum cleaner sound
- Hairdryer sound
- Umbrella opening and closing
Pro Tip: When you make these sounds at home, ensure your puppy is within earshot. If he is sleeping, it’s okay to sometimes make these sounds. Real-life means sounds happen when a puppy or adult dog is sleeping. Don’t scare your puppy but do expose him to a new sound or two each day.
Places To Visit With A New Puppy
After your puppy’s first series of shots, start getting him used to car rides. If you don’t drive or have a vehicle, ask a friend or family member if you can borrow their car or take you places now and then. Start slowly. A drive around the block. Increase the amount of time in the car. Be sure the pup is secured in a kennel or booster seat for safety.
Of note: Don’t take your puppy when he is totally exhausted. You want to capitalize on his waking hours. Reward and praise frequently. All of these places can be accessed from your vehicle:
- Car wash
- Airport to see planes take off/fly
- Local park to sightsee and people watch
- Construction site
- Near a bus station
- Driving over a bridge
- Sitting at a shopping mall while people watching from the car
- Seeing a fire (at a campsite, a friend’s fireplace)
- Car windows opening and closing
- Pet supply store (when he’s cleared by the veterinarian for vaccines)
- Puppy playdates (when cleared by the vet)
- Puppy training and socialization classes (when cleared by the vet)
Touches Every New Puppy Should Get Used To
Make life easier for you and anyone your pup comes in contact with now and for the rest of his life. Start touching him and getting him used to tactile sensation early on.
You probably hear of dogs who hate being bathed or brushed, won’t allow the groomer to touch them, or freak out during teeth brushing time. Combat those behaviors with these touches.
- Your hand on and in their food (no snapping)
- Taking various toys away from them (no snapping)
- Paws (touch them on the tops, bottoms, and in between the toes)
- Brushing their coat (here are our favorite dog brushes)
- Running your finger along their gums with moist warm gauze to get them used to it
- Using a baby toothbrush on their teeth (here’s how to train your dog to like teeth brushing)
- Touching legs, stomach, tush, belly, and gently caressing their back and chest
- Holding their head still (if you need to check their eyes, remove something from their head, administer a pill in the future)
- Clean their paws with a washcloth or towel (think dirty paws in the future)
- Bathwater (use a waterproof snood to ensure water doesn’t get in his ears)
- Touching ears (especially floppy-eared dogs like Cocker Spaniels who will have their ears groomed and cleaned regularly throughout life)
- Trimming nails (puppy nails are clipped with people’s toenail clippers – ask your vet or groomer)
- Your hand in the puppy’s mouth to examine gums
- A hairdryer on his coat
- Head to tail examination so you can feel for lumps and bumps all over his body
Basic Indoor Behaviors Every New Puppy Should Learn
Being patient and consistent is key when teaching your puppy new things. Focus on the easier things first, such as different toys and textures. Move onto other ‘commands’ like sit as they get older. Each puppy learns differently, so be kind, be positive, and always make training sessions short and sweet.
Also, there are plenty of fun indoor activities you can do with your puppy. Keep our list of indoor activities for dogs handy for when your pup grows up.
- Exposing them to toys of various textures and colors
- Elevators when old enough
- Being okay around fans, air conditioners, heaters, and the noise they make
- Not being afraid of the washer and sounds associated with them
- Bathing and towel drying afterward
- Sleeping in a kennel or appropriately sized crate
- Sleeping on a doggy bed
- Not attacking a mop or vacuum when in use or not
- Seeing his reflection in a mirror
- Mealtime behavior and etiquette
- Not to jump on people/guests
- Refraining from excitement piddle (this falls on the human to be aware. Here are our submissive urination tips. Puppies’ bladders aren’t fully developed for several months, so understand accidents will happen.
- Playing with toys, play fetch
- Basic commands like sit, stay, his name, come when called, wearing a collar, allowing a leash to be put on, wearing a harness (more about that shortly)
- Where his bowls are located (water and food)
- Where and how to ask to go outside to potty: potty training a puppy is a completely separate topic and takes time and positive reinforcement
- Appropriate things to chew on
- Socialization skills with other puppy friendly dogs – if you don’t have other dogs or have friends with dogs whose vaccine status you know, ask your veterinarian about puppy socialization classes and their timing
- Sleeping arrangements: If you don’t want the puppy on the bed or couch, now is the time to put those plans into place. Or, get appropriate furniture covers.
Items To Get Puppy Used To Early On
Acclimate your pup to wearing these items and you’ll be way ahead and thank me later:
- Wearing and putting on a collar
- Wearing and putting on a harness (I let my puppy wear a harness around the house while potty training)
- Wearing and putting on canine apparel (there are legitimate reasons why a dog should wear clothes)
- Wearing and putting on dog boots or paw protection
Bonus Puppy Socialization Experiences
If you still have time and can fit these bonus puppy socialization experiences within your pup’s first three to four months of life, it would be worthwhile. Mental stimulation is equally as important as physical stimulation and exercise according to your pup’s age, breed, and size.
- Taking pills and treats
- Walking on public trails
- Walking over a bridge or under a bridge
- Different climates: snow, rain (and mud puddles)
- Walking on uneven ground and concrete
- Learning to pee on different surfaces (ideal if you plan to travel with your dog)
- Standing on a porch/balcony/deck
- Visiting the ocean, a body of water
- Being picked up by strangers (with your permission)
- Playing mentally stimulating games (put a treat under a cup and have the pup find it)
- Popping bubble wrap near them
- Open boxes in their presence
- Visiting farm animals (even if from the car)
- Exposure to people in wheelchairs, with canes and walkers, and someone walking with crutches. You never know when you or a family member might need these. They also help prepare the puppy for testing for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test.
Things Not To Do With A Puppy
Now that you have well over 100 things to do with your new puppy to make him more confident and self-assured, let’s talk about what not to do to a puppy.
- Tease or taunt a puppy
- Leave a puppy in a room unattended: accidents and mishaps can happen
- Spank or hit your puppy
- Rub a dog’s nose in poo or pee – this is disgusting and torture.
- Leave your puppy in a crate for long periods of time. Puppies need to be taken out and move around. Have someone check your puppy.
- Use the crate as a place of punishment
- Give your puppy too many treats
- Pull your puppy’s leash hard or use a choke collar to harm him
- Overuse commands
- Have long training sessions (puppies have a short attention span)
- Yell or scream at your puppy
- Believe your puppy is revenge peeing in your absence
- Allow the puppy to chew on your fingers or toes (learning impulse control)
- Feed poor quality food and table scraps and expect your puppy to thrive
- Take your puppy to public parks or areas where contamination is high until they have their complete sets of shots and your veterinarian gives the green light.
- Forget to talk to all family members and those who interact with the puppy about the rules.
- Play too rough. Puppies are fragile and can get easily hurt.
- Call your puppy to come so you can reprimand him (you want ‘come Rover’ to be associated with positivity)
- Adopt a puppy that hasn’t been with his mother and littermates at least eight weeks (unless the puppy is a rescue and you receive instructions from your vet.)
- Give a puppy free run of your residence. Slow and steady.
Download a Printable Version
Want to print this out and use it in your home/hang it on the fridge/or paste into your DogMinder?
Puppies Grow Fast
Puppies grow fast. In the blink of an eye, it seems they go from potty training to celebrating their first birthday. Don’t let the time slip away. Make a puppy bucket list and use the tips above to fill it up.
Most of all, bond with your puppy by spending time together. Get on a regular schedule and enjoy your new furry friend to the max. Happy training!