So you have done your research and found a reputable breeder and pup for you and your family…Congratulations! The future seems clear with the visions of your new pup going everywhere with you, growing with your family, and making new memories together. Now fast forward a few days. It seems as though the future you were envisioning has taken a back seat to the screaming demon that is waking you up at any given hour of the night for seemingly no reason at all. Most of us have been there at some point with our new puppy. Here are a few tips and techniques that may help you keep your sanity.
First and foremost, the most important thing you can do for yourself and your new puppy is to…socialize, socialize, and socialize! Take him new places, meet new people, and have fun with other (safe) dogs. This will save you and your pup a lot of head and heartache in the future just by doing these simple little things for a few minutes each day. The happiest dogs are the dogs with the most socialization and structure. This becomes very evident the more you look at service and working dogs. Also, simple 5-10 minute socialization and training sessions a few times a day is far more effective than a 4-hour session one day a week. Try to keep life simple and fun for you and your puppy!
Here are the 3 main foundation practices that I use and would encourage you to try on your own.
I recommend keeping the crate small to start out with and increase the size as needed to keep up with your growing puppy. I like to think of crates as the puppy’s own personal den where he can eat, sleep, and relax. Using crates can give your dog a sense of safety and security while helping owners keep their sanity.Socialize your puppy in his crate and be sure to use it when you cannot give your puppy your full attention. This will help with most digging, chewing, and accident problems that could otherwise occur in or around your home. Also, move your puppy’s crate to different rooms and parts of your house for further socialization. If you have a working or sporting dog, this is especially important if you anticipate that you will have to leave your dog in your vehicle overnight while traveling or something of that nature. Don’t forget to be safe and practical with your puppy at all times and keep it as fun for them as possible. Be careful to not reinforce excessive barking or whining while your puppy is in his crate and remember to let him out to potty as necessary. A quick rule of thumb is that a puppy should be able to hold himself for 1 hour for every month of age he is. For example, a 2 month old puppy should be able to hold himself for about 2 hours, 3 months old = 3 hours, up to about 5-7 months of age. Personally, I give my puppies 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight on top of their food to help us get through potty and crate training with minimal accidents. Crate training will help your puppy throughout his entire life by adding structure and clear boundaries.
Any time the puppy comes out of the crate we should take him directly outside to potty and stretch. This will be the perfect time to praise and reward your puppy for going potty outside. Accidents can and likely will happen. The last thing we want to do is punish a dog for having an accident that we did not catch. Frequent let-outs are especially important for puppies that are learning not to potty in their homes. After your puppy has been let out and has relieved himself, you can bring him inside to roam around and play. While your puppy is in your home, be sure to always keep an eye on him and be ready to make a correction while the dog is in the act of an undesirable behavior. If you do not catch your puppy peeing on your floor, you WILL NOT teach him anything by putting his nose into his pee and swatting him as he has likely forgotten what he has done by the time you have caught him. Mistakes like this are completely our fault for not keeping an eye on him and making an ill-timed correction will never work in our favor. If you catch him in the act of having an accident,give the puppy a stern “NO”, pick him up, and take him directly outside to do his business. After your pup has eliminated outside, you can then give him your praise and/or another reward. This is the method that we use and have had tremendous success with each of our dogs. Training must be clear, consistent, and fair for your puppy to live a happy and healthy life. DOGS THRIVE WITH STRUCTURE!
One of the, if not THE, most important and lifesaving training we can give to our dogs is to teach them recall or the “here” or “come” cue. Starting with this early will go a long way with our dogs. This is one of the most overlooked foundation training problems. Who cares what tricks or training your dog has if he blows you off when you call need him to come to you? Most training problems
I sincerely hope this helps you and your pup work together and develop a lasting relationship of trust and respect for one another. A well socialized dog with structure and training is a thing of pure beauty that everyone can enjoy! You only get one life so enjoy it!