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There is nothing more exciting than the thrill of bringing an adorable new puppy into your home, and making him part of the family. There is also nothing more frustrating. Training your new friend and helping to integrate him into his new surroundings doesn't have to be a chore if you remember these simple guidelines.

BE READY Before you bring Spot through the door, make certain you've prepared for his arrival. Training is near impossible if your animal doesn't understand the rules. You can help prepare for your new bundle of joy by:

1. Taping down or binding together any loose or stray electrical and telephone cords.

2. Buying or making toys to keep your new friend occupied.

3. Finding an area of your house that your puppy will call home. During at least the first few weeks, your puppy will need a "comfort zone." Pick a place away from loud noises and people that your puppy can relax and feel at home in. Use an old blanket or pet bed to make his space comfortable.

4. Locking up or reorganizing hazards. Chemical cleaners, medications and car products are all hazardous to pets. Curious puppies can open low cupboard doors. Child safety locks or moving products to a more unreachable area are recommended.

5. Have a plan. Know how you plan to address issues such as housetraining and inappropriate behavior. Your dog will need guidelines and the sooner you apply them, the easier your job will be.

6. Have a name. Your dog will respond faster if he knows who he is.

Bringing home a puppy is the easy part. Training your dog to follow a set number of rules will require patience and understanding on your part. Remember, your new puppy wants nothing more in the world than to please you. Go gently and allow room for mistakes.

HAVE PATIENCE Remember, this is a puppy you're dealing with who knows no commands or words in the English language. It is up to you to teach him. Tread lightly and watch how your dog responds to commands, people and his environment. Not all puppies are quick learners. Your time, dedication and patience will be the three most useful things you can offer your pet.

SOCIALIZING The first few months you spend with your new friend are the most critical. This is the time when your puppy's social development will take place, so it's imperative to spend some time introducing him to new sounds and people. Start slowly by perhaps inviting one person over. Allow the dog to sniff and play with your guest. Next, add a few more people and maybe the low hum of a stereo. Again, let your dog get it's bearings. When noises and new voices scare your animal, soothe him and assure him that he is safe. You can gradually add more and more noise and people, until your pet no longer reacts to the distraction around him. Remember, if you want your dog to safely interact with others, socialization is a must!

BITING AND CHEWING Puppies chew for a variety of reasons including boredom, anxiety and just plain not knowing any better. Your pet is looking for rules and it's up to you to provide them. Begin with a variety of toys to see what your puppy likes and responds to. Be sure to rotate toys frequently to avoid boredom and disinterest. By providing toys and entertainment for your dog, you're showing him the appropriate "chew things." If chewing on other objects becomes a problem, you can use anti-chew commercial sprays (or make your own by combing a small amount of cayenne pepper and water) and dousing the problem areas.

DIGGING Dogs dig for many reasons. As a natural instinct, dogs will dig a hole to crawl into to stay cool. They also dig when chasing rodents, to bury or retrieve bones and toys, to escape confinement or simply for fun. Most often, dogs dig when left alone for long periods of time. Covering holes and surfaces is often enough to show the dog that you would prefer he not dig up the yard. However, if your dog is unresponsive, remote punishment (such as turning the sprinkler on or locking him in a small room for five minutes) will help to reinforce this rule.

HOUSETRAINING This is the step that is the most frustrating. There are many methods to try; papertraining, kennel training, confinement training and diaper training. Whichever you choose, remember your new friend will need direction and gentle guidance. Also note, puppy's bladders are very tiny. It's not that he necessarily wants to go on your expensive wood floor as it is that he just can't hold it in. To help your pet along, try:

1. Creating a schedule. Take him out right after eating, drinking, playing and sleeping.

2. Praise your dog when he performs his duty outdoors and let him know he's done the right thing.

3. Set up a small area in the house where the dog can go, if he is forgotten about. Putting papers on a closet floor or placing "puppy pads" near his kennel will help him get the idea.

If housetraining becomes a problem, you can discourage your dog from returning to the same spot by placing his food and water over the area he has soiled. Dogs will not go to the bathroom in their sleeping or eating area. Also, be sure to clean up any leftover smells with commercial cleaning products to prevent further mixed signals your dog could receive.

SET RULES What your dog most is please you, so set boundaries for him and make sure they're clear. Never physically punish your pet. He will not understand the connection between his action and his pain. If time outs are needed, place your pet in a small area by himself. Pets hate being away from their owners and will understand much more quickly that he is being punished if you remove yourself from the picture, rather than hit him. Most of all, reward your pet for doing right. Praise and encouragement will go a long way toward helping your new puppy fit in at home.