You have dreamed for weeks about bringing home your new little ball of fluff. Puppy proofing is complete, and you walk around your house confident and excited, thinking constantly of puppy breath and snuggles.
Fast forward to two days later, you haven’t slept. You are chasing around said ball of fluff, who has grabbed your razor while you were in the shower, and you step into the poop on your carpet. You wonder what in the world you were thinking. Sound familiar? People say that women forget the pain of childbirth and that allows them to go through with having more children. I think we do the same, about puppies. We forget the whining in the crate, we forget just how often they have to go outside, and we forget how much they jump up, and bite, and chew. However, there are steps you can take to make for an easier transition.
- Keep your puppy on a leash in the house for the first couple of weeks. I know very few people who do this, but I promise, it will change your life. If your pup is ‘tethered’ to you, he cannot get into things he isn’t supposed to. You should notice when he needs to go to the bathroom before he sneaks into a quiet corner. He will never learn the naughty house habits that make for a dog who will later cause you to pull your hair out. He will also learn invaluable leash skills, and become accustomed to staying near you in the house. It is frustrating for the first day or so, but then you and your pup will grow accustomed to being accommodating of the other.
- Make the crate a happy place.; a place where Kong's are stuffed with yummy treats. If you are struggling with crate training, take your pup for a nice long walk or play date. Put him in the crate after he is already winding down and ready for a nap. He will learn that the crate is a safe place for him to rest. You can find many tips and tricks for crate training with a little bit of research, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you and for your pup.
- Reward as many behaviors as possible. It is easy to get caught in the rut of saying “No!” and “Leave it!” all day long. Did your pup lay down on his own? Or sit and look up at you? Shoot for rewarding your pup 50 times a day. Use his kibble. Every time he offers a behavior that you like, mark it with a treat. Consider that kibble his gold star. Your pup is figuring out the world. He is going to try lots of new behaviors to see which are rewarding to him. Make sure you are reinforcing the right one!
- Go outside. A lot. The first few weeks, it will be almost every 15 minutes. Every time they wake up, every time they eat, as soon as they finish playing, etc. And as your pup gets older- remember, they do not have full control over their bladders until 8-10 months. So even if you have taught him that he needs to go outside, he will not be able to hold it as long as your older dog might. Set your pup up for success by keeping on top of the potty training.
- This stage doesn’t last long, especially if you spend most of it wishing it away. Have fun with your puppy! Put in the time now, and your future self- and dog- will thank you.
Submitted by Leah Pflaum