Settling in at home… The First Days at Home
Settling in at home… The First Days at Home
I don’t treat a puppy as young as 7 to 12-weeks old like an adult dog, however, from right away I love, teach and guide. Don’t think that your puppy is too young to learn…quite the opposite…your puppy will thrive on being exposed to people, places and things and learning how to interact with their world. Treat him/her the same way you would your own infant or toddler: with patience, constant supervision and a gentle touch. The way you interact with your puppy at this age is important to his/her socialization and identity.
The ideal time to bring home a new puppy is when you are in your regular routine. It is nice if you have a bit more flexible time and definitely availability, but puppy will get used to YOUR routine. Establish a daily routine and follow these steps:
Over the first few days you are going to get used to one another. The routine of the day changes for all involved. You will learn the sounds, smells and routine of the puppy as the puppy learns yours. The bonding time and getting to know you time is special and needed. Beyond the connecting and you watching that puppy is healthy the next biggest thing is Potty Training, teaching your puppy not to be mouthy and crate training.
Potty Training: Before bringing him/her in the house, take puppy to the area in your yard that will serve as his “bathroom” and spend a few minutes there. Sprinkle the saw dust, PINE NOT CEDAR, on the ground for a familiar reminder to your pup that this is the new “potty spot”. We will send a gallon zip-lock with you and this should be an adequate amount for transitioning. If s/he goes, praise your puppy. Some people use Clicker training (briefly described below) and this would be a time to have your clicker in hand. If pup does not take care of business, proceed into the house but be sure to take him to this spot each time you teach the correct potty.
As you play with and interact with your puppy then be alert for signs (sniffing and circling) that he has to go to the bathroom, then take him outside immediately.
Praise your puppy every time he goes to the bathroom outside. Stick with potty training…if there is a mistake, and there probably will be, just start again with consistency and YOU WILL FIND SUCCESS! Don’t give up! Your pup was well on the way to potty training using the saw dust as “the potty area” since s/he was four weeks old.
Watch for signals from you pup, unusual anxiousness, looking for an exit, circling, or barking without obvious reason. It is better to offer MORE potty opportunities over the first several days so that it is clear that outside is the place to go. If you observe the pup squatting in the house (it can happen quickly) I say a strong, “EGH!” take the pup to the appropriate place and say, “go, pee, go pee” or “go poo, go poo” or “business time”. These little phrases, it can be whatever you choose, can become trigger words is used consistently and may greatly help if you are traveling or need the pup to take care of business before you head out the door for a bit…they take care of their duty without much song and dance. These are very trainable smart pups…just stick with consistency for a couple of weeks and you will have a pleasant, house-trained puppy. You can do this immediately, I highly recommend it. There is no need to wait until they are older or are more familiar with you. What you begin RIGHT AWAY will have the most staying power.
Stay with your pup when they go out for the first two weeks or so even if they have a fenced yard. This way you can help them know “the potty spot” and you are certain that pup is taking care of business. If you don’t watch the pup and you assume business was taken care of and you let him/her inside to play…you may have a surprise. Also, keep your eye on the stools so that you can make sure it is a bit firm. Right after travel, stress can been detected in stools…a soft, even a rather loose stool is common, but you don’t want it like water and you don’t want it loose for more than a day or two.
Take mouthy behavior seriously:
Puppies use their mouths to learn about their world and they have pulled and chased their littermates which is fine but they need to know that they interact with people in a different way.
Have many toys and positive options for puppy to chew. Distraction and physically turning puppy when s/he is mouthy is another method. I never recommend tug-of-war with your pup. When pup gets older you want to be able to walk by your pup without them grabbing on your pant leg and thinking it is a fun game. Fetch and retrieving makes the pup quite happy. Also, don’t let your pup bite your hand and push it off as cute puppy behavior. You want your pup to be able to be around all people at all times.
If the pup gets used to play biting on hands and a four year old is playing with the pup this could be very hurtful. They want to bite and chew…that is normal but don’t let them bite and chew on people parts just puppy toys. If a pup bites and you have tried offering good options and tried distracting puppy and the behavior continues then you need to take another action. At this time we suggest (an adult) to immediately grab the top of the snout, pinch and fold the lip around the top teeth and say, “EGH!” and they end up biting down a bit on themselves. If everyone that interacts with the pup is consistent and doesn’t allow biting, (keep in mind they are all going to try to bite) you should successfully be able to teach the pup how to bite acceptably. Always have plenty of chew toys available for your pup and handy for you to grab and put in the pup’s mouth when correcting where to place biting tendencies. Again, if the pup gets “rough” just put the pup on it’s back and place your hand on it’s chest (gently but firm) until the pup does not look you in the eyes. This re-establishes that you are the “top dog” and that they submit to what you say.
Crate Training: When the pup is in the house with you make sure that you are watching the pup, cuddling or playing with the pup otherwise I recommend that you keep puppy in the crate. The pup may be noisy at first but they learn that you are in charge choosing the playtime and such and this is a safe, quiet spot for them until play/cuddle time comes. If the puppy cries in the crate…wait until a quiet MOMENT and that point take the calm pup out so you determine the crate time not the puppy. If you let the puppy out when it whines or cries, yet you know all of the pups basic needs have been tended to then you are teaching the puppy that whining gets his or her way. It is like rewarding a puppy that is pulling on a leash by giving more lead. Your puppy MUST know that you are the alpha and this can be done in a loving, consistent way. Your puppy wants to know expectations and boundaries and if you don’t lead and teach then puppy will lead you and that is where you can have an ill behaved, dominant dogs and it really is not the dogs fault. Don’t reward a noisy, demanding pup. Crate training is deliberate and may need to be done for 7-15 minute intervals several times a day at first until the pup finds some comfort and assurance that you will come and get pup out to cuddle and play. By using the crate they won’t be running around unattended and have an “ooops”. Slowly giving them more area and privileges will greatly benefit you in the end. We have 10, yes 10 dogs, that are regularly in our home and they are all house trained. They are very well mannered because they know reasonable behavior and they are living with us in a pleasant way.
Continue to establish order as needed: Observe and interact with your puppy while s/he’s acclimating to his/her new family. This will help forge a sense of pack and establish you as the pack leader. If the pup gets “rough” just put the pup on it’s back and place your hand on it’s chest (gently but firm) until the pup does not look you in the eyes. This re-establishes that you are the “top dog” and that they submit to what you say. They are used to establishing, challenging, and re-establishing position of dog rank in their litter and this will continue with you. Make sure you end up on top.
Puppy selections are made on the Welcome Home Day, which is at 8 weeks of age. We choose at 8 weeks of age because we can see their temperaments and tendencies more fully which aids in making the best matches for you and puppy. They also have enough puppy confidence built by now and a natural timing of being ‘ready to connect’ with their new families along with a prime trainability in the puppies so we believe that this is great timing.
If for some reason someone is unable to make their pick at the established time we will pass over their pick in fairness to others (unless it is arranged ahead of time). The family would still get a puppy but they would just forfeit their pick option position.