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Nothing brings more joy into a home than a puppy. A new relationship is formed and a puppy’s behavior patterns are determined from the very first moments a puppy enters his new home.  Help your puppy get off to a good start by  “puppy proofing” your house. Young dogs love to investigate things with their mouth. Look at your house from the ‘floor up’ to determine what your new companion might consider toys. Avoid accidents by removing temptations and cordoning off areas, such as electrical cords, TV cables, furniture, books or other “fun” items that are lying around.

Using a soft voice, show him right away where he will find water and food, and show him where to go to do his potty business. Provide him with a blanket that will be his/hers and a crate where he will sleep and call home. Keeping a soft yet assertive voice is comforting to the young animal. Let him go around and sniff all he wants for a while. Once his/her curiosity has been satisfied, spend ‘bonding time’ together by offering gentle touches and caresses.

Coming into a new home is a stressful business for a young pup. So many new smells, so many new things to feel, chew and analyze. It often results in brain overload that may create some nervous anxiety for the puppy’. Tension held in the body may result from this. A relaxation massage routine does wonders for this particular stress.  Gently massage your pet within the first few hours of his arrival to relieve tension and gain his/her confidence. Do not be surprised if your new friend falls asleep as soon as you start the relaxation massage. Your puppy will get all the benefits of relaxation and increased vitality that this particular massage provides. This application of the relaxation massage routine only takes 3 to 5 minutes on average. It can easily be performed anywhere and at anytime.

Giving light short massages frequently to your young pet will build a strong connection quickly. The relaxation massage routine will teach the puppy to be handled and will prepare him for vet visits and socialization with other dogs and people. Include gentle stretches to increase your puppy’s flexibility.  Most puppies are very playful and explore with their mouth during early massage sessions—expect chews and nibbles on your fingers. Make massage a fun experience with lots of verbal reinforcement such as “good boy/girl”.

While massaging your new friend, you can also perform a health check.  Get a sense of the quality of his/her hair coat as you start your massage. Check the ears to ensure no parasites or dirt is present.  A runny eyes or nose can be typical of the breed (Maltese and other toy breeds) or can reveal an early eye infection.  Always check with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Gums should be pink and healthy.

This early introduction to light massage and gentle stretching will make your young companion receptive during his/her first visit to the veterinarian; it is especially helpful when it comes time for vaccinations. Make sure to ask your veterinarian about heartworm medicine as well as a de-wormer program. Even though it may seem premature, within a few months you will have to make the choice of whether to spay or neuter your pet.

Maintaining good hygiene is very important for a pup. Bath time will be easier for both you and your puppy if he is used to being handled.   Use a shampoo specifically developed for puppies, have a large supply of towels on hand and make sure you are prepared to get wet.   Have fun!  The more your puppy trusts you and is relaxed in different circumstances, the easier it will to introduce new things.  Grooming, clipping nails and administering medications can be drama-free with a puppy that is used to being handled.

Set up a schedule of exercise for your pup. A simple brisk walk or a jog will achieve a good cardiovascular workout that will benefit both of you. Start with five to ten minute cardiovascular sessions daily for the first few months.  Build up to fifteen-minute sessions to stimulate metabolism and promote good growth.

Both you and your animal will benefit from the aerobic activity you need to increase your heart rate, better oxygenation throughout your entire system and increased endurance. Better oxygen input results in an increased metabolism of all body systems and increased alertness. It will also help maintain digestive health, other symptoms of lethargy related to poor oxygenation, boost the immune system, increase muscle fitness, strengthen the bones and ligaments.

Regardless of your choice of exercise, it is important to progressively warm up your body. Always start with a gentle pace for the first few minutes giving your body time to respond to the increased activity. Then increase your effort over the next 10 minutes. This allows your body the opportunity to warm up and help prevent stressing your muscles, ligaments and joints from doing ‘too much too fast’.

Always include a walking cool-down until your heart rate resumes its normal rhythm giving your body an opportunity to ease down from the preceding efforts.  Although this can vary from individual to individual a normal heart rate is about 75 beats per minute while a dog’s normal heart rate is about 80 pulses per minute.  This also can vary from breed to breed. Do not forget to bring water for the both of you and some healthy snacks to keep blood sugar at par with your exercises output.

If you have a pool, lake, or an ocean available, consider introducing your puppy to swimming. Swimming is one of the best exercises to involve all the muscles without excessive resistance. Most puppies love to play in the water and have no problem getting wet.  Play it safe, be gentle with your pup on his first swim.

At the end of the day, you can apply a gentle relaxation massage routine followed by a full body massage routine and finish with some gentle stretches. This down time will give great wellness benefits to your young dog and give you direct feedback on how his little body is doing. The hands-on massage experiences will increase the bonding, the trust and companionship between you two.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful.  My goal is help you provide quality home care for the benefit of your animal. 

Please visit our FREE library. Our many articles address important aspects of animal wellness and fitness. Take the time to scroll through our free library to find out how you can actively contribute to your dog’s wellness. You can also access this library directly through your iPhone, by using the Animal Awareness free application.

At we also offer a large video library with over a 100 mini-videos that will show you how to easily perform the various massage and stretching techniques talked about in this article. These videos offer you the correct start and visual guidance. With this knowledge, you will be able to develop a good home care program for the benefit of your animal friend.  He will love you for it.

Recommended DVD Downloads

A regular application of the “Relaxation Massage” (CV004) and the  “Full Body Massage” (CV006) will be a great preventive measure. Also, the use of “Stretching Exercises” (CV007) will maximize the benefit of your home care program to your pup.

If you are just starting with your home care program, consider our “Introduction to Animal Massage” package,a 20% discount value on the first 7 DVDs, to secure a sound foundation in your animal massage skills. Take advantage of our other packages to further develop your expertise in animal home-care.