Congratulations on your newest family member!
A new puppy’s addition is an exciting time but also can be a little overwhelming. We’ve put together some helpful information and tips to make these next few weeks of transition as stress-free as possible.
A well sized crate will be one of your very best friends when it come to house training your puppy. Be sure to choose a crate that is big enough for your puppy to stand up, lay down and turn around in but not so large that he can urinate or defecate on one side and sleep on the other. You want to keep the crate a very positive place for your puppy to be, so never use it for punishment!
To introduce him to the crate, simply toss a piece of food in, praise him as he goes in and then let him come right back out. Repeat this exercise, increasing the amount of time your puppy spends in the crate.
There is a general rule of suggestion for how long a puppy can hold his bowels – take your puppy’s age in months and add one. That is the number of hours he can be expected to go without a potty break. So if you have a 8 week old puppy, you need to allow him a potty break every 3 hours or so. It’s much better to get up in the middle of the night for a little while than to create the habit of your puppy having accidents in his crate.
Set your puppy up for success – take him outside first thing in the morning, after mealtimes, play times, and every few hours in between. Try to take him to the same spot in your yard where you’d like him to continue to potty and use a consistent phrase like “time to go out” as you get to the door & “go potty” as he’s doing his business.
Any time your puppy pauses in playing or suddenly wakes up from sleeping. it’s a good idea to take him out. Supervision is extremely important for successful house training. It does no good to find a place in your house where your puppy had an accident and reprimand him for it after the fact – he has no idea what he’s “in trouble” for. Utilize the crate instead – If you have your hands full and don’t have the ability to pay attention to what your puppy is doing, put him in his crate for a few minutes.
If your puppy has an accident, clean it up with paper towels and take them out in the yard to where you’d like your puppy to go. Then be sure to clean that area inside with an odor eliminating cleanser to prevent him from coming back to that same spot.
Socialization & Exposure
We all want our puppies to grow up to be stable, well-rounded dogs, right? Socialization is not just letting everyone pet your puppy when you take him somewhere for a few weeks. It’s positively exposing your puppy to as many new people, places, environments, noises, animals, surfaces, & situations as you can during those first few very impressionable months that he’s with you.
The most crucial socialization period for dogs is between 4-16 weeks. During this time frame puppies are like sponges – they absorb all sorts of information about their new lives with us and it’s extremely important to take advantage of this time period. Dogs without proper socialization as puppies are much more likely to develop anxiety and even fear aggression. Extra time and effort put in now can save you a ton of effort and heartache down the road.
This goes hand-in-hand with socialization and exposure. It’s important to help boost your puppy’s confidence about tough things he may encounter in life. Walking over grates in the sidewalk, or riding in a shopping cart – both are strange experiences for a dog but with the proper confidence building, you can help your puppy figure out that he’s capable of much more than he thinks!
Using yourself, food and toys as motivators can teach your puppy that you won’t ever put him in a dangerous position and he can do anything you encourage him to. Start by luring him up onto things like benches and playground equipment. Reward and encourage his efforts and take advantage of anything from a tarp lying on the ground to grated metal stairs. Please be very conscious of your puppy’s safety while doing this. It only takes one accident to damage not only you puppy’s confidence in himself, but also in you and what you ask him to do.
Introduction to Basic Obedience & Manners
We want our puppies to enjoy learning and working with us. So find what motivates your puppy – whether that’s a special treat, toy or your attention, and use it! Use pieces of food to lure your puppy into a sit or down. Once they’re comfortable following your hand for a food reward, introduce your commands. Keep sessions short and positive – 2-10 minutes, 2-10 times per day.
Practice your puppy’s obedience at home, without distractions first and then introduce things like sit and down out in new places to help them generalize those behaviors. When it comes to manners, if it won’t be a desirable behavior when your puppy is full grown, don’t allow or encourage it now. Once you’re aware of what motivates your puppy to do something (ex : your pup jumps on your legs so you reach down and pet him), you can be sure you’re only rewarding behaviors you condone. So instead of petting your puppy when he jumps on you or barks at you, make sure he has all four paws on the floor and is quiet before he gets your attention.
Setting the standard for what’s acceptable behavior now prevents corrective measures needing to be taken down the road.
Valor K9 Academy is a small, veteran owned business located in Chattanooga, TN, Boise ID & Spokane, WA. We believe in a balanced training approach to help develop the best relationship possible between you & your puppy or dog. Both locations provide obedience training for dogs of all ages and breeds through Small Group Classes, Private Lessons and Board and Train Programs.
Our goal is to help you develop your puppy into your new best friend.
-By: Valor K9 Academy – Chattanooga Lead Trainer, Dana O’Lone Long