20 Jul Bringing Home A New Puppy
First puppy? Second Puppy? No matter how much experience you have raising puppies or owning dogs, the first few days or weeks with a new puppy in the house will have its adorable ups and poopy downs. If you are wondering half of the time if you are doing things right then read this! As a family who has raised and trained 200+ puppies in our home and help families in their homes, we have some expert advice on how to make this process organized, fun, and as accident free as possible.
Step one: Have all your ducks in a row
- Interview a few local trainers so you have the educated support you may need to raise your puppy through the first few months.
- Buy a small training crate– the black metal ones – NOT AIRLINE CARRIER, you may have to buy larger sizes as your puppy ages. Crate training should be done for 2 years.
- Have a collar with a nameplate, petsafe easy walk harness, and 5 ft leash (NO RETRACTABLE LEASHES) the appropriate size for the puppy and take this with you when you go to get your puppy. If it’s a long ride, take some water, poop bags, a towel or blanket and a plastic bag for garbage. Accidents happen and you won’t regret being prepared to clean a mess.
- Buy Pork Chomps twists, Deer antler, balls for fetch and a couple toys. I recommend toys that are stuffing free and make a crinkly sound and squeaky sound and a small shallow bucket to store them on the floor as easy access for your puppy to retrieve them. Also buy Pet Urine Enzyme Cleaning products for cleaning urine from carpets or floor and have lots of paper towels handy.
- Try bringing home your puppy early in the day so you have time to get familiar with your puppy and possibly tire them out before going to sleep. The first couple nights may be the hardest between crying or barking from the puppy in its crate. You will need lots of patience for this part and waking up at night for potty breaks.
Step two: Introducing your Home to your Puppy
- When you get home, take your puppy to the area they will be using for potty. Wait and see if you get a pee or poop. NOTE: If your puppy came from a pet store or a breeder that raised the puppies in a kennel only with pee pads/ no outdoor access, it is highly likely that your puppy will be nervous outdoors, it will not go potty outside and you will have to transition the puppy to the new potty outside behavior. BE AWARE of this especially if you live in an apartment. Puppies that have no outdoor potty conditioning that are older than 12 weeks will be tricky to teach to go outside and you may believe that putting a pee pad in a crate or playpen is a good idea but it will just encourage all elimination to occur indoors and nothing outdoors. NO PEE PADS Unless you are planning to pee pad train forever.
- Introduce your puppy to the main area of your home that is closest to the front door or main exit to your potty area. This area is going to be your new regular grounds for play and training your puppy to walk to the exit to go potty outside. Keep the leash on your puppy while you supervise and they explore the area, they can learn to drag it around. Show them where their toys are and the water bowl and let them sniff around.
- Feeding time is a great time to introduce the crate. The crate should be in the same room you just introduced to the puppy. You can temporarily use a towel in the crate to make it comfy, place their food bowl in their crate and have them eat inside the crate with the door open. Allow them to walk in and out as they please to eat. If they don’t eat, that’s okay, some puppies need time to destress before eating. If they will take some treats, practice them going in and out of the crate a few times throughout the day and practice closing the door for a few minutes at a time. You can feed the puppy some treats while the door is closed and practice walking away and coming back. Make sure you are rewarding a quiet puppy, not a howling barking puppy. Some puppies if given the chance will quiet down in a few minutes. When they are quiet you can let them out. Try to get your puppy comfy in the crate because tonight will be their first time sleeping in the crate and it could be hard on them and your sleep. The first few nights are the hardest and if you push through it, your puppy will sleep quietly in their crate and learn to love their crate.
- Read our House Training Tips Blog. Take your puppy outside again and again until you get some poops and pees, praise them and give them a piece of their kibble or a very tiny treat to reward the behavior. Read our house training blog and keep a potty log! Some of you may feel like your puppy is potty trained in 2 weeks, if that’s where you are at then you are doing a fantastic job supervising your puppy. Don’t let your guard down though, housebreaking can take as long as the one year.
Any new puppy leaving its birth home and pack is going to feel some amount of insecurity, stress, maybe even depression. Depending on the puppy’s personality, those emotional responses will have different volumes. What this looks like in puppy language: barking, whining, pacing, over drinking water, excessive panting, biting, growling, hiding or lying down far away from you in isolation. Our human nature tells us to comfort these puppies, to hold them, pet them, tell them everything will be okay and stay by their side the whole time to help them understand they are not alone and we are here to care for them (the wrong way to help them). Rest assured that if handled the RIGHT WAY, your puppy will move past this stage within 2-6 days if their nature is to be confident and playful. Puppies with any health issues, behavioral issues such as fear, or mental illness may take longer to train. Seeking professional guidance from a trainer or behavioral coach will help you tons, just don’t wait until you are desperate and have lost your patience to seek the help you need. Training your puppy begins as soon as you bring them home.
Here are some common behaviors you may experience and how to handle them.
Q. My puppy keeps peeing even after I just took them out.
Yes, that can happen if you allow your puppy to drink too much water all at once. If your puppy is a small breed, ¼ cup of water is enough to drink at a time (every couple hours). A medium size dog like an Australian Shepherd or Pitbull ½ cup, and large breed like German shepherd and Rottweiler’s 1 cup. It really depends on the puppies age and size. The more water that goes in, the more water that comes out. Your puppy may have to pee every 10 minutes depending on how much free access to water you allow. They may even have accidents in their crate. The point is that by measuring and monitoring the puppies intake and timing how frequently they pee afterwards, you know will learn how much is too much and how often you need to take them out to prevent accidents.
Q. What do I do if my puppy barks at me, whines or walks around barking and whining?
Your puppy is either a little stressed out and trying to cope or your puppy is bored- either way they are seeking something and if you respond to them by offering food, water, a walk, a toy, petting, or evening talking to the puppy, you will be reinforcing the behavior and encouraging them to bark and whine at you for attention or to do something for them. The best response right now is to ignore them. When they stop barking, you can take them outside first for a potty break and go from there to meet the puppy’s needs.
Side Story: We once had a toy poodle puppy that started barking and within a few minutes started spinning in circles. We quickly learned that was a “Hey you guys! I have to poop here it comes!” type of bark. We were still in our first day with the puppy, we logged all the poops to figure out how frequently she was pooping. The barking stopped because we took her outside before those estimated poop times and she no longer needed to bark about it. Her new behavior/signal to go outside was to walk by the front door. Which leads us to your next question…
Q. What do I do if my puppy poops or pees in front of me, or if I find the accident later? Should I take my puppy to the accident and scold them?
No. No no no. You just brought this puppy home, you are building trust, security, routine and communication. If you catch your puppy about to have an accident then you will distract them with a sound like clapping and take them outside. Even though they don’t know their name, you have the leash on like I mentioned earlier, you grab and gently tug the leash and make a smoochie sound to encourage them to walk outside with you. Try to not pick your puppy up unless you live on the 22 floor of an apartment building and have to walk a mile of carpet and elevators OR if the puppy is not following you at all then you may have to carry them temporarily. If you found the accident after the fact then just clean it up, note the accident on your potty log and better luck next time! Here’s why- if you scare your puppy about peeing and pooping in the wrong spot before you have even had the opportunity to praise them at least 10 times for going in the right spot, then they will be too scared to poop or pee in front of you. This will become a major setback in your housebreaking and if you send them to us for training after this trauma, we will just be the good guys and you will be the scary guy.
Side Story: We once had a 6 month old French bulldog that had this trauma (and a background of being taught to pee and poop indoors due to the vets telling people to not take their puppies outside before vaccines) after 3 weeks of training him to successfully go potty outside, he refused to poop in front of his owners back at home to the point that we had to drive to them so we could do what we call “unlock the poop door” for the owners. He pooped within minutes and then the owners were able to praise him which really boosted his confidence. Everything was beautiful and he pooped happily ever after.
Q. My puppy hates his collar and harness, should I take it off?
Trust me, just leave it on and they won’t notice it after a few days.
Side Story: The owners of this ADORABLE Mini Aussie kept removing the collar from their puppy because when she would wear it, she would throw her head on the floor and drag herself around like it was a 10lb collar. It was the strangest behavior and they continued to remove it every time until the behavior greatly increased to the point the puppy became stressed. During our board and train program, we put her collar on and didn’t take it off. Wa-La! She gave up on dragging her head around because playing with other puppies and toys was more rewarding. Great example of desensitization.
Q. My puppy won’t walk on the leash, they just sit down and stare at me so I have to carry them everywhere.
If your puppy is 3 months or younger, this is a common behavior for young puppies. For right now you can carry your puppy here and there to get to the grass for potty. Inside of your home you should practice calling your puppies name and feeding them their meals as a reward for running to you. As your puppy matures physically and mentally they will begin to walk a little more everyday. The outside world can be a bit intimidating for a small puppy, sitting down means they don’t know where to go or don’t feel confident to move forward. In a few cases, the type of harness you use might cause the puppy to not want to walk because they are adjusting to the feeling of wearing the harness. Sometimes a collar feels more freeing to them.
Q. My vet said we cannot take our puppy outside until they finish vaccines.
Okay, not quite a question but I do have to tell you about the consequences of not taking your puppy outside to explore and socialize between 8-12 weeks of age.
First of all- I am not a vet or doctor, this information is from experience and science, please listen to your instincts, do your own research and discuss your thoughts with your vet. When your puppy is 8 – 12 weeks of age, you have that window of opportunity to introduce your puppy to all of the sounds, sights, and smells they have to look forward to for the rest of their life. That means people, dogs, car rides, grass, sidewalk, kids, car sounds, street sounds, birds, the sun, the moon and so much more. Depending on your puppy’s personality, you are taking a HUGE risk by not socializing your puppy during the window of opportunity (especially for a puppy that is showing to be shy and a little sensitive to new people). You puppy’s potty training success and self confidence depends on you to allow them the exploration process.
Ways to keep your puppy safe and still socialize:
- Take your puppy for car rides everywhere.
- Go for a walk with your puppy in your arms or in a backpack for carrying puppies, visit a restaurant and sit outside for a little or go to a park and sit at a bench.
- Allow your puppy to explore clean patches of grass- if you have a backyard or a front yard that has not had any outside dogs in it, it should be safe for your puppy.
Puppies that don’t get the exploration and socialization during 8-12 weeks tend to have more fears and insecurities. A few examples, they are uncomfortable pooping or peeing outside, they don’t like different textures like grass or concrete, sounds of cars, pedestrians and other animals on leash.
Q. When can I stop crate training?
Crate training is a 2 year long process. It’s for the safety of your pet and your home belongings. The first time you leave your dog alone loose in the house should start as a gradual process. When you trust they are housebroken, you can start by leaving them in a gated area like a kitchen for their first trial run for about 30 minutes to an hour when you are home. Then practice leaving the house for short periods of time. When you leave and return, make sure you make it no big deal, you don’t have to excite your dog when you leave and return. Continue this process for around 6 months, if you are having success you can try the same training process but with more freedom to your home.
Raising your first puppy is challenging and rewarding. Your furry best friend has endless amounts of love, cuddles, companionship and forgiveness. If it ever gets tough, remember- it also takes a village to raise a dog. Don’t feel bad to ask for help or to take a break. For puppies with challenging potty training issues, consider board and train! Its a great way to jump start your puppy’s obedience training and correct troubling potty issues.
Wishing you the best!
Your Dog Conscious Trainers,