After 1 week with my brand new 8 week old puppy, I am excited to share some things you should know when you bring home a puppy. Having an 11 year old dog, I was 9 years old last time I went through the puppy phase. I was sure that I remembered my dog’s puppy stage being short and sweet. I remembered her being potty trained in a few days and the nipping stage being cute and short lived. Man was I wrong.
First of all, be prepared to be as tired as a mother with a newborn baby because puppies can’t hold their bladders long enough to sleep through the night for a little while. Crate training is definitely very useful in the long run, but starting off can be quite the challenge! Get ready for nights laying in bed awake, hoping the crying will stop. It takes a lot out of you to listen to them cry for so long, but know that the best thing you can do is ignore it! Otherwise you’re creating a puppy that knows to cry to get what it wants. Also, since your puppy can’t hold its bladder very long you can’t really leave the puppy for longer than 2-3 hours at a time. I made sure someone was home 24/7 for my little guy for the first week he was home, this helped with potty training and we also played some crate games in this time period that really helped him learn to love his crate! It’s now week 2, and I have been leaving him for 2-3 hour stints in his crate and he has been doing great!
Here are some do’s and don’ts of crate training:
DO crate your puppy at night and whenever left alone. Puppies don’t understand boundaries yet so they will likely pee and poo everywhere and chew everything!
DO make sure your crate is big enough for the puppy to stand up, lie down and turn around in. Any bigger and your puppy will use part of it as a bathroom! If you have a puppy that is going to grow a good amount bigger, many wire crates come with dividers so you can move it and increase the size as the pup grows!
DON’T put anything in the crate with your puppy for the first few nights or at least until you know if it will ingest it or not! You can try an old towel or blanket to test your puppy but make sure to check for chew holes every morning!
DON’T use the crate as a punishment. That being said, it is totally okay to have “crate time” to keep your sanity! As long as you use your usual happy voice when putting them into the crate, it stays a positive association!
With my puppy being a lab, I was aware that chewing would be something I would have to deal with. Puppies chew EVERYTHING. At this point in their lives (8 weeks old) they don’t really know what “no” means or the difference between right and wrong. Because of this, I try to constantly keep the pup entertained with things he is allowed to play with so I can interrupt the behaviour I don’t want right away and can distract with one of his toys! This means always being in the same room as him. Depending on the pup, they may chew things like shoes or clothes left on the floor, or even furniture and base boards! Those habits are best nipped in the butt right when they start!
Here are some do’s and don’ts of the chewing/exploration phase:
DO provide plenty of appropriate chew toys! These include nylabones, Kong’s and stuffies (for younger pups under supervision only)
DO keep your pup on umbilical when introducing them to new spaces or when in a space that’s full of chewy goodness
DON’T give your puppy unsupervised free rein of the house. They need constant supervision to stay safe and out of trouble!
DO always have a redirection handy, it’s easy to get them to stop chewing on something when you have something else for them to chew on!
Despite the absolute craziness of bringing a puppy into your life, it has already proven to be a really rewarding experience. The sheer love and willingness to learn that I see when my little guy looks into my eyes makes me forget (for a second) about how tired I am! That being said, those moments only come with a properly exercised and stimulated puppy treated with boundaries and respect. Allowing puppies to continue a behaviour because they are cute and little is only hurting them! It is so important that they learn rules from day 1 so they can become well rounded adults. This takes tons of time and patience so make sure you have lots of both before you bring home a puppy:) It takes a village!! Puppy class is a great place to start. It can provide proper training, puppy socialization and pawrent socialization too! We have a new Puppy Play and Learn session starting up August 6th if you or someone you know is welcoming a new puppy into the family soon or has recently! Check out our website for more info!