Puppies 101

Set Your New Puppy up for Success

My dogs are getting older, one is 10 and the other is 8 and I realized at the beginning of this year as I trained for a 5 mile race (not a 5k) I had no dog to train or run with because my dogs are too old to run so far, so I recently got a puppy.  Actually I picked her up on Sunday!  I forgot just how much work and effort a new little life is,  but it reminds me of the importance of setting your puppies up for success in the very beginning of life.

Before Your Puppy Comes Home

  • Puppy proof your house!!!  You would baby proof your house if you had a toddler or a baby over, why would you not puppy proof things!  Pick up shoes and expensive items, put things in safe places, and make sure medications and cleaners are out of reach.
  • Get a toy box for your baby and stock it FULL of a variety of items.  Puppies are tactile like babies they like to play with numerous types of toys so give them an opportunity to explore their environment the only way they can, with their mouths and teeth!  This will help them not use their teeth on you
  • Buy a crate for crate training, one that will grow with your puppy as he grows.  If you are unable to come home and let your puppy out every few hours, specify a space i.e. kitchen, laundry room, bathroom for your puppy until he gains bladder control and can be crated for longer periods of time.

Potty Training

  • I have had her for three days and at 8 weeks we have yet to have an accident around the house or anywhere else!
  • Potty training for a puppy of 8 weeks is all about ME it isn’t even about her.  She is too young to be expected to hold her bladder for long or to alert me to her needs so it is my responsibility to get her outside about every 2 hours and after naps or eating or drinking or raucous play.  I have to monitor her food and water intake and gauge how often she will need to relieve herself.
  • When she is outside, I keep her on a leash so that I can watch where she is going and what she is doing and how much volume is coming out.  Sometimes she gets distracted and I have to get her up and move her around in order to change her mind set.   Often she would rather pounce and play and put her mouth on everything instead of going potty, so I just move around the yard until she gets the idea and then I bring her inside when she is finished.

Setting Up for Success Around the House

  • From the moment she stepped into this house she has been on a leash.  Keeping her on a long leash or long line prevents her from sneaking away and having an accident and it also keeps her from doing all kinds of other naughty behaviors.
  • Although she has been great with the kids ages 2 to 15, when she does get out of control and wants to bite pants or hands and legs, I already have her on a leash and can prevent her from continuing these naughty behaviors.   I can redirect her energy toward her toys and interact with her in a healthy way.
  • Having her on a leash also prevents her from chewing things that she shouldn’t  or things that might be dangerous for her.  Her leash is either attached to me or attached to a heavy piece of furniture (8ft leash or long line) in the room I am in, so I notice the moment her sharp little teeth grab something they shouldn’t have grabbed.  It also prevents her from grabbing naughty objects (underwear ha ha) and dashing around the house evading apprehension.  This evasion game is a favorite for most dogs but by keeping her under control and close she doesn’t even realize this game exists.
  • This also helps with early training, it is never too early to begin training.  Keeping your dog on a leash and close to you gives him the manners he needs early in life to make a good pet and this keeps him from establishing problem behaviors that need to be fixed at a later date.  If she is on a leash, I am not going to let her, chase the cat, grab food from the table, jump up on me etc.  Doesn’t it make more sense to teach your pup correct principles from the start?  Don’t WAIT till there is a problem, curb the problems from ever rearing their ugly heads!

Socialization

  • I have a very short period of time to socialize her to as many people and things as possible before she starts to form opinions about everything on her own.  Puppies who are not socialized early are dealt such a disservice.  Puppies and children are capable of learning and experiencing more while they are young, if you wait too long the window of opportunity closes and it becomes a much more difficult process.
  • Get your puppy out and start socializing.  Keep in mind that your puppy is not safe from diseases until they are 16 weeks or so and have received their last set of boosters and the rabies vaccination so do not socialize in unknown or uncontrolled areas or with unknown dogs!
  • You can, however, start socializing your puppy with sociable dogs that you know and you know are well vaccinated.  Not all dogs like puppies, puppies can be quite irritating to older and geriatric dogs so use caution and set up play dates with dogs that are known to be good with puppies.
  • Start socializing your pup with all shapes, sizes, ages and colors of people.  Puppies need to be introduced to all varieties of people, especially children and people who might be interpreted as different.  This early socialization forms a strong foundation for your dog as it grows to be accepting of people from all walks of life.  They should get use to seeing people with hats on and people who limp etc. so they accept differences in people as normal.
  • It is also essential to get them use to a variety of noises and environmental challenges.  I often like to sit outside of my local Wal-Mart with my pup on my lap so they can watch people and carts coming and going and get use to the normal sounds and spice of life.

This early socialization is crucial to a well rounded out going dog!

You have a lot of work to do, and so do I!  Get your puppy out and set him up for success.  It is our responsibility as doggy parents to make certain that we are setting our dogs up for becoming the best pets possible!  Dogs are and investment in not only money but also time, effort and emotional bonding, we owe it to ourselves and to them to give them the skills they need to thrive.

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