Bringing Puppy Home

(reprinted with the author's permission)

When you first bring your puppy home, be aware that it is a HUGE adjustment for him.   Up until then, he has lived with his littermates and with his mother.   To a social animal like a dog, relationships with his family are a big source of comfort and security.  In going to a new home, he loses all that and has to build new relationships.   Spending quality time with the puppy, and understanding what he is going through, will really help him adjust faster.   It is not recommended to comfort or reward fear, but you may use understanding and patience, and set things up to make him comfortable.   He may feel real panic that first night or two, when he is left to sleep alone.   If you can set up his sleeping area to be near a person or other dog, that can help.   The nice thing about puppies is they adjust pretty fast, especially when younger.

If he is going to be crate trained, placing the crate near people especially the first few days or weeks will help him feel less abandoned.   Know that it's likely the puppy will cry the first few nights, but as times goes by he will get better.   In learning a new routine he will know what to expect, and that also is a source of security.   

With crate training, make it a positive thing.   Put the puppy in for short periods of time, with some really yummy chew toy that he only gets then, and before he is bored with the toy, remove him and the toy.   You want to leave him wanting more.   He only goes in the crate when he gets that high value treat, and isn't left in so long he becomes uncomfortable or unhappy.   If you take time to build a positive association with the crate, you will set your puppy up to be comfortable in it at other times.    It can be a lot of work at first, but is worth it in the long run.
One final note:  Please do not crate your puppy or dog for long periods of time.   Crates are a nice tool to help with house training and getting the puppy safely through the chewing stage.   But like any tool, overusing a crate is a form of abuse; especially if the dog is kept in there so long it must soil the crate.   With young pups, an hour or two at a time is plenty, and with adult dogs, you should never go over 5-6 hours.  

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Puppies want to be clean and not mess where they live, so that gets them started on the idea of going potty outside.

A good rule to follow is taking them out about once an hour at this age, and especially after meals, play time and naps.   At night you can go longer, maybe 3-4 hours at this age.
If they have an accident, don't rub their noses in it.   That teaches them to fear you, and to be dirty.   Just clean it up.   If you see them getting ready to go or starting to go, make a noise like "no" or "ah! " to get them to stop, and then pick them up and take them right out.  You can use the command "go potty", and if you see them doing the deed outside, say "potty" as they do it, so they learn that is what you call it.  
They will have accidents so a good cleaner and lots of paper towels are recommended.    Just keep your cool when it happens, clean it up and watch closer next time. A lot of people get mad at the puppy for it and all that does is make the puppy scared of you, or scared of going potty in front of you.    Each week that goes by they get more control, and they will be house broken before you know it.   Remember at this age they are just babies, and don't know they have to go until right before they HAVE to!  The key is management (keep them on easy to clean surfaces) and prevention (take them out A LOT! )  

Feeding them meals on somewhat of a schedule helps a lot.   If you leave food down all the time, they eat whenever and potty more irregularly.   Feed a premium quality food.   On top quality foods, the puppies eat far less and also potty less often and less quantity.   If you use a cheaper, grocery store brand they eat up to twice as much and their stools are bigger and messier.   Also, the quality of the ingredients is lower, making the pup less healthy and robust, and more prone to skin allergies, excessive shedding and poor coats, weak immune systems and other health problems.   Think of the cheaper foods as junk food for humans.  You wouldn't raise your child on potato chips and candy bars, and that's all the better lower quality dog food is.   Puppyhood is definitely NOT the time to skimp on food quality.   High quality food is more expensive, but in the long run you will save, since they eat less and will have less health problems like skin irritations, allergies and other issues.   This cannot be stressed enough.   Feed those babies well!


Some of the things you may want to buy before your puppy comes home would include a leash and collar, age appropriate toys, food and water bowls, food, grooming supplies such as a brush and steel toothed comb and nail trimmers, cleaning products such as paper towels and a stain remover, and if you are going to crate train, a crate.   You can use the bits of their dry food for training treats at this age, so as not to upset their immature tummies.   Later you can use different treats, but avoid the semi-moist kind or any with artificial colors.  They are bad for dogs.


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