Welcoming puppy home
October 21, 2019
Tima Lund BSc, BEng and PGCE is a breeder, trainer and Fish4Dogs ambassador. She gives us her tips on bringing your puppy home and some initial bits of training to make puppy’s new home safe, comfortable and fun.
The day you bring your puppy home keep the pup quiet, don’t introduce him/her to everyone you know. It is a big change for the little person and you need to let the dog get used to its new surroundings.
You have a crate to keep the dog safe in, use it from the first day, and ignore any screaming the first few days! If pup has gone to sleep anywhere else, pick up gently and place in crate to sleep. Soon pup will take itself off to its own bed when tired.
Never go to the cage while Pup is making a noise!
Wait until it catches its breath, then quickly go to it. As the pup is trying to toilet train itself it will shout to be let out, this is difficult to distinguish from screaming to be out and having fun with you. So be aware that pups can train their owners to recall to them in about 3 attempts.
Take the view that if pup was out for a pee half an hour ago then the shouting is for attention. Ignore it. Err on the side of letting it make a few more messes in its crate rather than teaching it that it can get you to come calling whenever it wants!
Make sure it has plenty of toys to chew and play with as well as a bowl of water. You can buy a metal cradle for bowl to sit in… as my pups are quite keen on playing in their bowl and often tip it over.
The day you bring your puppy home, show him/her the area you have decided is toilet area.
Every time pup wakes up lift it and take it to where you want it to do its stuff and put it down. Wait by it, not interacting with it in any way. It will pee within a minute, and big ones come a few minutes after that.
Each time pup performs praise it with the word you want to use to tell it to do it on command. I use ‘be clean’, guide dogs use ’get busy’, and some of my friends say; ‘go pee pee’ You choose what you will feel ok saying in the park!
Once pup has done the stuff give a small treat and praise. Very soon you will have a pup racing to his/her toilet and peeing and then sitting waiting for treat.
Do not leave pup outside on its own expecting it to do it while you make tea. Stay with it but don’t play with it, just be a calm presence. Games can start as soon as the important stuff is over. If you do this consistently you can have a housetrained pup in a weekend. Just remember its bladder is small, so needs lots of pee breaks.
At night you can either get up once in the middle of the night to take pup out for a pee (extreme, but I do) Or put some newspaper at one end of crate and clear up in the morning.
Pup cannot be dry for 7 hours! Don’t expect dry night for at least 2 months.
This is the most common area where I cry in the park! I see a young pup running around without a lead chasing after a ball or a stick, with a gleeful owner telling me “He really needs this for an hour”. No, no, no.
‘Big dogs need lots of exercise’. Yes they do, but not as babies! Would you let your 6 year old child run a marathon?
For the first year, walk your dog on a lead. Little short trips at first, building up to 20 minutes, twice a day. The rule is, 5 minutes twice a day for every month of age. This means when your pup is 3 months old the maximum walking it should do is 15 minutes twice a day. Gentle lead walking is better than running wild in the park.
Play games at home, roll balls, don’t throw, as jumping and twisting and turning at speed can seriously damage their skeletons. Hips and shoulders in particular. Don’t let them play rough games with other dogs in the park, find some sociable friend with a nice dog of the same size and let them have playtime at home. This way you can call them with food treats…so they come away from their friend, without taking off to the other side of a big field. Then, as adults, your dog will always view you as the best thing, and enjoy the park without becoming a maniac running riot in it.
The restricted exercise has many advantages; your dog doesn’t learn that every time it has its lead on, it gets to go to the park and behave like ‘a wild one’. This often causes problems with a recall once the dog is a teenager. It lets you teach your dog to walk nicely on a lead. It teaches your dog to be polite in public.
Walking builds nice muscles and encourages strong bones and joints without damage. If you want you can take the pup swimming, there are several doggie pools around now, and it is great safe exercise, fun for the dog and you, and as long as the person running the pool is qualified, safe for your pup.
None of my dogs were lose in the park in their first year. We did lots of ‘boring’ street walking, and played with toys etc at home. I used titbits to make the dog sit at curbs, ignore passing cats, children on bikes etc. I play with my dogs, and don’t let other people’s badly trained big animals terrorise mine.
Now, as adults, we go to the park and can run and fetch our ball, look for things I hide in the long grass and have a nice time. We don’t run charging up to other people and their dogs; frightening both dog and owner…no, we do ‘our thing’ and leave others alone.
While small, brush your pup every day, or at least touch all over.
The backs of back legs are a potential spot of irritation. Feel between toes and round pads. Gently squeeze nails daily to get pup used to feeling of having claws clipped. Look under tail, into eyes, ears and mouth. Gently rub your fingers round the gums daily. Basically, you must be able to touch and fiddle with all parts of your dog any time you like.
This will save vet bills as a vet that can touch and examine a dog without using anaesthetic is much safer for the dog and cheaper for you. Toenails need clipping, ask your vet how. Do not allow pup to play with brush or comb.
Get someone else to hold treat in front of nose to keep attention while you do the grooming. If alone, smear a bit of peanut butter/cream cheese on fridge door just above pup head height, and groom while it is licking it off!