The main thing to remember when you’re bringing a new puppy or rescue puppy, a transitional period is to be expected. The transitional period can be anywhere between two weeks to a month depending on the dogs background. Your patience and understanding is probably the best things that are going to help you through this transitional period because getting upset at the puppy and having too high expectations can cause failure on the part of the new owner and the new puppy. When puppies are running all over your house creating terror it’s nothing personal. Human children do it all the time. We look at dogs differently and have higher expectations of them which means we are doing it to ourselves rather than understanding that we need to look at it objectively and manage how they act versus take it personally and getting mad. Most parents would let their kids just sit there and scream at them without giving them a timeout and they certainly wouldn’t allow their children to bite them or punch them without having some kind of consequence to where it won’t happen again. The following are some things to think about when bringing home a new puppy!
Potty training. The first two days are going to be THE WORST. Prepare for not a whole lot of sleep. If you’re getting a puppy around eight weeks old, do not expect potty training to be easy and smooth and to happen right away. Potty training a puppy can last anywhere up to 10 months depending on the breed, your routine and feeding schedule. Some owners have had the luxury of having a puppy potty trained in two weeks, but most of the time that is a small breed and a retired couple, a quiet home. They are people who can take the puppy out as many times as it needs to versus being in a kennel for four hours and then let out when you get home from work. A puppy can have an accident pretty much every hour, every day if you don’t maintain a good feeding schedule and a good plan of action. If you leave food and water out at all times, your puppy is going to potty all the time. Those that have a free feeding schedule work best when you don’t have a rush, have one dog and for those that are retired or work from home. Just remember, however much it drinks it’s going to have to potty and however much it eats it’s going to have to poop!
Recommendation: Make a potty training schedule! How many times are they going to go out? When are you going to feed them? How much water will they get?
Crate training. When you first get a puppy and you are teaching it to like it’s kennel keep in mind that it’s not going to automatically love it right away. Puppies will cry and scream when being left alone, especially at night. The reason they do this is because they are used to being in a litter of other puppies and around their mom and you were probably the first experience that they’re having on their own by them self. So now, there alone and in a house that they don’t know along with noises and sounds and an environment that frightens them. It’s always fun during the day because they’re out with you and doing stuff with you but as soon as the lights go out and it’s night time to sleep they can become scared. This, however, does not mean that they should sleep with you in bed, it does mean that for the first couple days you’re not going to get a lot of sleep because you’re going to be helping them transition to what bedtime is. They’re going to bark and they’re going to whine and that first night that there at your house is going to be a long one.
My recommendation: Place the kennel next to your bed so that they are right next to you along with a warm blanket inside for them, a teddy bear with a heartbeat clock inside and white noise in the background so that they don’t hear every little creek. Also make sure that they don’t sleep a lot during the day because just like a child if they sleep a lot during the day they’re not gonna be tired at night.
Piranha teeth/teething. When puppies are teething, which means their teeth are coming in, it’s going to hurt and they’re going to want to relieve the pressure. In order to relieve pressure they’re going to be chewing on things including you. Their teeth are very sharp and they have no clue how sharp and how it affects you. They’re going to bite you, nip you and lunge at you. They will notice that you’re going to respond and jump back which is going to become a fun game. So not only are they trying to relieve pressure on their teeth because it is sore, but now you’re becoming a fun interactive game. Chewing on you is better than any toy or any activity. As their teeth start to fall out, you are going to be praising the gods because it will not hurt as much if they go to mouth your arm. Plus, keep in mind they are also in the mindset and immaturity level that they are going to be testing you to see how far they can go and what they can get away with.
A definite recommendation: Use your crate for a short time out whenever they become a chewing piranha and make sure that they understand that it’s not OK to use you as a chewing toy. As a professional trainer, clients show me all the time their arms when they’re dealing with a puppy and I see the scratches and a little bite barks all the time. I suggest wearing long sleeve shirts and pants. Lol
Barking. When your puppy decides to find it’s voice initially it will be ADORABLE. You will find yourself melting because it really is quite cute. THEN, they will start barking at everything, toward everything and just because. You will then find this annoying and irritating and wonder how it even happened. Dogs bark for variety of reasons. They are usually barking AT something, TOWARD something or BECAUSE of something. Puppies are impressionable and so if they end up being around other puppies and those puppies bark it seems like a good idea. Puppies will also bark when they are afraid. Some puppies will bark because they love to hear the sound of their own voice. Lastly, some puppies will go outside and start barking to see if they can hear any nearby dogs to have a conversation with.
The best recommendation: To squash it early, only allow a couple barks and then redirect. This tells your puppy “Thank you so much for letting me know somebody’s there, but it is OK and I can take it from here.” If you are using phrases such as “No Bark!” STOP using them and try doing something to catch the dogs attention to then followed up with leave it. I use the word “ENOUGH.” This word helps stay away from the word “No.” which becomes nothing shortly after starting to use it. I also use a combination of corrective noises and a word queue to redirect. If needed, leave the situation to help them calm down.
Spaying and neutering. There are definite myths with this! When you decide to get your dog spayed/neutered DOES NOT MEAN it will call them down. When your puppy is peeing all over, barking all the time and lunging at you like a little piranha, the physical act of neutering and spaying is not going to change these behaviors. Neutering and spaying reduces the amount of testosterone or estrogen being produced. It’s a chemical thing not a behavioral thing however if some dogs stay intact for a longer period of time behaviors can develop such as over assertiveness and aggression.
Recommendation: Spay/neuter early around 4-5 months and you will see less aggressive and assertive tendencies regarding the opposite sex. This will affect their interactions and focus on their everyday life. This will also help reduce the risk of cancer!
8 weeks versus 6 months. The main thing to remember when it comes to your puppies personality and understanding what to look forward to in the future is that just because it is calm as an eight week old puppy DOES NOT mean that that is the way it is going to be forever. Most children are calm as babies too until they start screaming, running and getting into things. Personality makes a BIG difference when it comes to the overall mentality of the dog however you will not know exactly what you have until your puppy starts to grow up.
Recommendation: Place the puppy on its back gently and wait to see the amount of struggle. If the puppy struggles to get out of that position right away, it will be more active and defiant. If it lays in the position and trusts you are keeping it safe, it will have a more calm demeanor and will think things through more frequently.
Training. Another myth is thinking your eight week old puppy will stay by your side and never runs off. Keep in mind as a young puppy they’re not going to go very far because they are not extremely confident to go off on their own. They are going to stay by you and follow you until they start recognizing everything around them. So when you first have a puppy you were going to be able to take it outside and let it run around and it’s not gonna go anywhere. It will probably actually just sit down when it sees a dog or a person and just watch them walk by. This of course is going to make you really excited because you’re going to think that that’s the way they’re going to act about everything. However this does change once their curiosity starts taking over and they want to go meet the dog and meet the person and they’re not so fearful anymore. Usually around five months of age their confidence level is higher and they start to become more daring which is why they start running toward things. They’re not running away, as they are going to explore. So if you think your eight week old puppy is always going to stay right by your side even at six months of age, please understand that this will change and without proper training they will not understand to stay by your side.
I recommend: Training starting at 10 weeks of age and continuing for at least the first year of their life. The quickest and easiest thing your dog can learn is the command “Sit.” Most puppies learn this right away. Teaching your dog to sit to take a treat or to sit when petting is great, then moving forward from there.
The main thing to remember about all of these things that were discussed in this blog is that your puppy will move through these things as they are behavioral and you will get to a point where you will be able to enjoy your puppy and start helping you explore and understand about life. Getting a puppy is not easy, takes patience and time and is a learning experience about responsibility and ownership. Most owners have to understand that initially and understand that the novelty of having a puppy will wear off quickly and you need to stay responsible and follow through.