I was in Cherokee County on Wednesday working with a new client and his French Bull Dog, Elsa. The lesson was going great and as we were finishing up the session, a friend of his stopped by. It seemed that his friend was going to be picking up an eight week Dachshund puppy that afternoon and was wondering if I could provide any advice on the first day or two. He had a great deal of questions and I was more than happy to help.
I started off the conversation by saying that even though puppies are really cute and fun to have; they are a lot of work. We all see them at the breeder, the puppy store, the rescue, or even at our friend’s house (who’s dog just had puppies) and they look perfect. What we don’t understand is that when we take them home, we are now completely responsible for their health, education, and safety. This is where all the work comes in. Sometimes they can become a real handful.
I gave him some general guidelines that should get him going for the next few days as everything settles in…
Don’t go nuts with the stuff you initially get for him.
Puppies really just need a few essentials to keep them happy and safe the first few days. I wanted to make sure that my client’s friend had purchased:
- Dog crate with divider
- Small bag of a good quality dry dog food
- Food bowl and water bowl
- Collar/harness and a 6 ft leash
- 3 or 4 chew toys
- Nature’s Miracle (for potty mistakes)
- Several old towels
Make sure that the toys you get him don’t encourage the wrong behavior.
Don’t get him toys that encourage “tug of war”. This is a natural game that all puppies play. The object of the game, in their eyes, is to have it last. They won’t give up because they want to win. We almost always get bored, the phone rings, someone asks us a question; and we let go. We have just lost and have enforced that our puppy is the winner and better than us. This means he can do whatever he wants.
Also, don’t get toys that squeak. The shrill sound that these toys make creates an adrenalized craziness in your puppy. I am pretty sure that you don’t want that type of puppy or dog.
Get natural, chew toys such as deer antlers. These are clean, safe, and keep your puppy from chewing the furniture or other inappropriate objects. Food toys such as Kong Toys are excellent. They are completely safe and can calmly redirect your puppy’s focus for an extended period of time. This activity helps your puppy to understand that it is natural to “just hang out”.
The crate is great!
Many people think that the crate is punishment because it has bars and looks like a jail. News Flash! Puppies have no idea what a jail looks like.
Puppies (and all dogs) need a safe place where they can go and feel totally secure. No matter what is happening anywhere else, they are in their “safe place”. The crate can serve that critical purpose in their lives. Because of this, you should socialize the crate as a happy place for your puppy. Do the following:
- Feed your puppy in the crate so he associates the comfort of food with the crate.
- Play with him while you are sitting outside of the crate and he is inside. Keep the door open so that he can come and go.
- Give him treats in the crate and praise him every time he goes inside.
- Take the crate with you around the house. This allows your puppy to be with you (and the crate).
- If possible, bring something from the puppy’s prior location and put it in the crate. This helps to build a feeling of continuity between your puppy’s “start of life” and the crate.
All Puppies need play.
The one thing that we must understand is that we need to use “play” as a chance to teach and socialize. First, never play rough with your puppy. You might hurt him or teach him that rough play is acceptable. As he gets bigger and stronger, the rough play can magnify into aggression and physical dominance.
Always play calmly with your puppy inside the house. Rolling a ball across the floor or playing “find the treat” are always nice and calm games. Just having him on your lap and petting him are great too. You can also engage in simplistic obedience exercises such as “sit” as part of your playtime. When you are outside, you can play more active games such as “fetch”. Never play “Chase me” with your puppy. This will encourage his nipping and grabbing your pants.
Let’s take the “P” out of Potty Training.
Many new puppy owners think that their puppies came potty trained “out of the box”. They think that they can just put down a wee-wee pad or they just have to open the back door and everything will be great. This is not the case. Potty training is really based on the owners’ understanding of when to get their puppy outside or where to place the wee-wee pads.
One big mistake that all new puppy owners make is not watching their puppies like a hawk. It only takes ten seconds for a puppy to wander off, potty, and wander right back. The more he does this, the more your house will smell of urine, and the more your puppy will make accidents in the house. You must always have your eyes on your puppy and keep him right next to you. If you don’t, you won’t catch his mistakes.
You must also understand the normal times to get your puppy outside to potty. They are:
- First thing in the morning
- After mealtime
- Before you leave the house
- When you return to the house
- After excited play
- Last thing in the evening
- Every X hours where X equals the number of months of his age. (Oh, by the way, stop counting after eight months…)
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Cherokee County Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Cherokee County Georgia.