To Puppy or Not to Puppy
To Puppy or Not to Puppy?
Often times we get many questions on puppies; puppy training, crate training (why to do it), potty training, biting, rough play, and basic manners at home. Puppies surely aren’t the easiest! We have outlined some of the key points to be aware of when it comes to bringing your four-legged infant home. Just as we do with newborns, you can expect some rough nights of sleep, frequent potty breaks, and setting the environment to have a well-mannered puppy. There are many things that come with bringing a puppy home that we encourage puppy parents to consider. Below you will find five areas to begin your research on.
Start training the day your furry four legged family member enters your pack. It doesn’t start out as formal training, but every time you interact with your poochie there should be some kind of training involved. If your new pack member is a puppy, everything you do is training. There’s crate training, potty training and just basic manners training. If your new pack member is a bit older than a pup, you’re training them when you introduce them to your house and your other pack members. Training should always be made fun and engaging. You can use some nice treats or just give them the praise they all so thrive on. This is so important as you are creating the bond between you and your doggie.
Beginning puppy classes early on is essential for your puppy to learn about you. It also helps to encourage you as a pet parent what you are doing right, what needs improvement, and how to have a well-mannered pupper. Obedience classes encourage team building and relationship building with you and your new pack member. Do some research into facilities in your area, observe a class, set up a tour or consult, and find a facility that you are happy with!
After you have established a relationship and bond with your new canine than you can start to make your training more challenging. But always remember to keep it fun, keep it interesting. Before you know it you and your canine will have such a strong bond and a great relationship for years to come. Remember they not called Man’s Best Friend for just any reason. All they want to do is please you. They are always looking to you for direction. So give it to them in a training way and you won’t be disappointed.
Crate Training is NOT Cruel!
Today is an exciting day, you go to get your puppy from the breeder, shelter, or rescue and will be bringing them home to adjust to their new life. However, one of the worst things you can do is to start letting the puppy free roam the house without having a safe place for them to rest and feel secure. For instance, you would not take your one-year old child and let them run around the house while your upstairs showering. That one-year old child can get into some serious trouble unsupervised, such as, getting into your cabinets where your cleaning supplies are or by getting seriously injured trying to climb the stairs by themselves. The same thing goes for puppies and younger dogs, if you are not paying attention to them you may find them chewing on your favorite piece of furniture, shredding a toilet paper roll, or ruining your favorite pair of shoes some of which can lead to a pretty hefty vet bill. That is why it is important to understand that crate training is not cruel and actually keeps the dog safe, helps relieve anxiety, and makes the dog feel more secure while adjusting to its new environment. Therefore, you will be doing your dog far more good than harm to crate them at home. Oh and guess what….. crate training provides an effective method to house train your new puppy as well which we will get to later on when we cover Potty Training 101 with your puppy!
Okay so size does matter when it comes to crates and choosing a well-ventilated crate that is meant for your dogs expected full grown size is important so that your puppy can grow into it. Before purchasing the crate, make sure that it comes with or you can attach dividers to make the crate smaller for the time being. Putting your puppy in a crate that is meant for your dogs full grown size gives your puppy the space to have an accident without it ruining their bedding and you do not want future accidents in the crate.
What not to do when Crate Training
Time and patience is key for the owner when creating a positive association with the puppy and their crate in order to achieve a “Den environment.” Lets first start off with what NOT to do when crate training your puppy and we shall categorize it as Thou Shalt Not.
Thou Shalt NOT
· Use the puppies crate as punishment
· Leave a puppy in its crate all day
· Lose your patience on the puppy while crate training
Utilizing the crate as punishment will create a negative association between the puppy and crate causing the dog to feel anxious and stressed. Remember the crate is only to be associated with happy and positive experiences in order for the dog to feel safe and secure in their crate. For instance, if you went to a restaurant and every time you went there you had an awful meal you would want to avoid that restaurant because of the negative experience you had there. You do not want your puppy feeling that way about their crate so that they would want to avoid it. Furthermore, you would not want to leave your puppy in its crate all day because puppies need to be taken out frequently to the bathroom and you do not want your dog soiling their Den. Easier said than done I know but we all get frustrated and your puppy may give you a hard time about going in their crate when you are first training them so it is important to recognize when you are frustrated to take a deep breath, take a walk away and cool down so you do not make a poor choice and create a negative experience between your dog and crate.
Creating a Positive "Den Environment"
Okay so lets get to what you have all been waiting for, how to create a positive association between the puppy and its den! The first thing that you want to do before teaching the puppy is to mimic a Den by making it cozy for your puppy with a lightweight blanket or crate mat. Covering the crate with a blanket can help make the dog feel safe and secure as long as the crate is well ventilated. Now you can begin crate training in short increments (10 to 15 minutes) and work up to longer periods of time which is important when creating a positive relationship between the puppy and crate. Puppies are like infants and their brains are not fully developed so making sure to use short training sessions and breaks is extremely important. Also, do not expect the puppy to be crate trained in a day it takes a good week or two for the dog to get used to their crate and into a routine.
Be Consistent & Create a Routine
· Prior to starting the crate training make sure that you potty the dog outside.
· Now start off by taking the time to lure the dog into the crate with treats or throw the treats in and make it exciting for the dog to go in by using a high pitched voice. Once the dog is inside the crate let the dog sniff around and allow the dog to pop right out if they want (DO NOT shut the door at this point). Consistency is key so repeat the process until the puppy is able to stay in the crate more than a few seconds with the door open to eat their treats.
· Once you feel the puppy is comfortable going into the crate to get the treats close the door and throw a treat in and say good in a positive tone and then open the door right away allowing the puppy to come out if they want to (repeat the process).
· With the door shut to the crate stand nearby and reward the puppy with treats they are not whining or barking.
· Always make sure you create a routine and to potty the dog outside before placing them in the crate and right after you take them out of the crate. This is also effective method for potty training the puppy.
· Every time you go to feed the puppy make sure to feed them in the crate. You can keep the door open to the crate while they are eating their food in it.
· Keep the puppy in the crate at night, they may cry for the first couple of nights but that is okay just make sure that they go out every couple hours at night otherwise let the puppy cry it out.
Tips to Creating a Positive Den Association
· Utilizing high reward treats with the crate (piece of string cheese or cooked chicken) every time the dog goes into the crate and pottying the dog every time prior to putting them in the crate is crucial to the training process.
· When the puppy is in the crate you can give them kongs with peanut butter (you can freeze them as well so that they last longer).
· Use treat dispensing toys
· Leaving a radio or TV on can be soothing to the puppy when you are away
· Youtube some crate games that you can play with your puppy to create the positive association with the crate
· If you have other dogs in the house and you place the puppy in the crate make sure the crate is placed In another room or with the blanket covering the crate.
· CONSISTENCY, TIME, PATIENCE, & ROUTINE is KEY
Potty Training 101:
Did you know that puppies having accidents in the house is one of the most common reasons puppies are rehomed or end up in shelters? You can prevent this from happening by recognizing that crate and house training are two of the most important first steps to take with your puppy when you bring them home. Be sure to make a plan ahead of time and decide which methods will be ideal for you to use when you start to house train your puppy. So, lets begin with some basic education on the three types of methods for house training your puppy. The three types of methods of house training include: crate training, frequently bringing your puppy outdoors, or paper/pad training. However, the most ideal method and one we will be focusing on is utilizing the crate to house train your puppy since dogs are den animals. Crate training is ideal because it helps eliminate any confusing since puppy pads and paper training consist of the puppy going to the bathroom both inside and outside of the house. Establishing a routine and understanding the signs that your puppy displays when needing to go to the bathroom is essential for the owner to recognize when beginning house training. Whatever method you decide to use it is important to always use positive reinforcement with your puppy whenever they go to the bathroom in their desired location (on the pad, paper, or outside) utilizing treats and a high-pitched tone of voice. Make it a party when the dog goes to the bathroom in the desired spot! Purchasing a treat pouch that you can wear around your waist is beneficial and makes it easier to reward your puppy right away. As an owner, establishing a routine and recognizing the signs that your puppy displays when they need to go to the bathroom are crucial to successful potty training.
House Training using the Crate Method
· Always be sure to take the puppy outside prior to entering the crate
· Once outside, as soon as the puppy pees or poops praise them with a “Good” or “Yes” in a high-pitched tone and reward them with a treat.
· Take the puppy right outside every time you let the puppy out of their crate
Rule of Thumb
As an owner, it is important for you to know that when puppies are young they may need to go out every hour but as a rule of thumb puppies should be able to control their bladders for the number of hours corresponding to their age up to about 9 months old. It is NOT healthy for any dog to go 10 to 12 hours without having a potty break and especially not for puppies! Once the puppy becomes an adult, adult dogs typically have to go out every 6 to 8 hours at a minimum. However, all puppies are individual and the timing may differ a little compared to this rule. It is your responsibility as an owner to create a routine and get in tune with your puppies habits.
Signs that a Puppy has to go out
- Pacing and circling
- Excessive sniffing
- Whining and go to the door or to where their leash is kept
Once your puppy comes home start making it a routine to take the puppy out and eventually you will be able to follow the rule of thumb. The routine should include taking the puppy out:
· first thing in the morning and before bed
· after play
· right after the dog comes out of their crate
· after waking up from their nap
· after chewing on a toy or bone
· after eating and drinking.
Important Tips for owners when House Training
· Control their Diet
Limit water intake through the day. Water should be given after exercise, play, and during meals. Pull up water about two hours prior to your puppy’s bedtime.
o Every time the dog goes to the bathroom outside make it a party! Make sure you praise them in a high tone voice “GOOD JOB” or “YES” and follow through with a treat reward.
· Consider a dog walker
o Most of us have busy lives with work and may be unable to stop home throughout the day to let the puppy out. If this is the case, it is recommended to hire a reputable dog walker that can reinforce the hard work you have put into house training your puppy. You do not want your puppy having accidents in the hour or in their crate because you are undoing all of your hard work.
Time, Consistency and Patience is Key
The time it takes for a puppy to be fully house trained is variable and it may take some puppies only a few days to catch on while others might take a couple of months. However, consistency and a routine is the key to establishing good potty etiquette with your puppy. There will be accidents that happen but remember to not get mad and to instead take them right outside and teach them the right place to go.
Puppy Social Skills:
All too many times we see various social skills being practiced within dogs in general, but puppies are a whole new situation. Some questions we often get are, how should I socialize my puppy, where can or should I take them, what is good play? Let’s break it down further:
Under-socialization: There is a grey area when it comes to socializing puppies. Many times we are told by pet parents that their vet recommended waiting to go anywhere until puppies turn 14-16 weeks. Though safety is one of our primary concerns, so is the overall well-being and health of your puppy. This means their entire lifetime. The majority of our behavior cases stem from poor and under socializing. During a puppy’s first year, they can experience various learning leaps, social leaps, fear phases, and developmental leaps. Within the first 8-14 weeks, puppies are learning about the world around them, similar to a 6 month old infant and just as infants can encounter stranger danger, as can our dogs when they aren’t exposed. It is important that during this time puppies have as many positive interactions as possible. Under-socializing becomes an issue in our 1-3 year old puppers that do not understand how to greet properly with both people and humans. Many times behaviors like lunging, jumping, excessive barking, mild reactivity, fear, and sometimes aggression is the result of under-socializing. It is because of this that puppies don’t have the opportunity to experience the environment and learn proper manners while around others. This also can lead to separation anxiety, low confidence, and a weak relationship. If you are nervous about what may happen with your puppies health consult with your vet and a professional training facility to determine the best way to have them exposed to others. Unfortunately, just as children in daycares, illness is always a risk to your pet, regardless of their age. We require all puppies within our programs to have their vaccines and kept up to date with them. We understand the risk, but also would tell owners a cold is far better to handle and deal with over a puppy that misses out on prime socialization. The effects of poor socialization can be a lifetime journey dependent on the dog, handler, and behavior.
Over-Socialization: Yep this is a thing, and it is a BIGGER issue than under-socializing! The typical scenario for many families, we know we have done it, is bringing the puppy home and wanting everyone (both two and four legged) to meet and love up on him/her. We take them to the pet store, we take them to events, friends houses, daycares, and the dreaded dog park! We are hear to help you say NO to many of these. As you will read in the next section, you want to have a 2-week decompression time with your puppy. We wouldn’t bring our 2 day old baby home and go to the playground right? Puppies need to learn how to exist in their new environment. When we over socialize, we create a behavior where dogs believe that every dog, person, place is the best thing in the world, unfortunately our world is not as such. There are dogs that do not like other dogs, people that do not enjoy jumping dogs, or dogs in general, and places that aren’t dog friendly. Often times dogs that have been over-socialized are rude to others, pulling to get to any dog they can greet and even people! They miss social cues from dogs that may be essential to the greeting, leading them into a tough position when they get to greet. It also has a huge effect on your relationship. Over-socializing creates an environment where you do not mean much to your puppy- it creates this idea that all everything else comes first, and you, the handler, come last. So why is that important and essentially harmful to your relationship? Because now your “puppy” that is one year old dragging to see every person and dog you pass, you have become a tether for your “puppy” and they do not look to you for guidance, you and your pup aren’t working as a team! So, avoid the puppy show-off, avoid the pet stores, dog parks, and bringing your puppy everywhere. These places have much more potential to have lingering illnesses and other over-socialized dogs that can have a lingering effect on your puppy.
Positive Proper Socialization: So how do you properly socialize your puppy? At PAWS, we enforce positive puppy play with other puppies of the same age and size. We enforce that all puppies are enjoying play, matching to the proper play styles of others, recalling off of others, sitting politely before playing, and short play increments. Research in your community facilities that may offer puppy play hours. Having a controlled environment where puppy play doesn’t become too rough is KEY! Enforcing sits before greetings, short positive greetings, and even recalling away from people and dogs creates good relationship foundations. When greeting people, please ask them to have your puppy sit first, preventing jumping. Make your greetings short and sweet, we use the 3-alligator rule. They are able to say hi for 3 seconds then can be recalled off. Proper social skills take patience, time, and training. All of these lead to stronger relationships, life-long positive interactions, working as a team, and most importantly having a well-mannered pup!
THE HONEYMOON PHASE:
We all know those adorable newly-wed couples who are so madly and magically in love the day of their wedding and are serenaded with champagne , flowers and a romantic dinner for two followed by a bed of roses in their honeymoon suite . Now of course , they love each-other and are happy beyond measure - but most people tend to escape reality (say things they wouldn't typically say, do things they wouldn't typically do out of utter joy) and they forget that after the hype and the sequence of magically planned events are over, it's not all rainbows and butterfly's every minute of everyday. Now again, this doesn't mean they aren't in love and happy , It's just the reality of life - and truth be told , any genuine human should understand that an authentic partnership should be built on trust, respect, clear communication, honesty , and of course, love! - not champagne, roses and margaritas on the beach.
That said, the honeymoon phase also tends to happen when we first bring home a new dog or puppy. We are so incredibly excited to share the world with our newest, adorable pal. We can't wait to shower them with affection, treats and toys, bring him/her everywhere to meet all of our friends, family, dogs, kids , to our favorite parks and pet stores etc... so we do. BIG MISTAKE. Not only are you taking things way too fast , but you're also setting you and your dog up for failure from the get-go by starting off your relationship in an unbalanced way, which will only lead to problems in the future (most of the time). Most new dogs or puppies aren't comfortable or confident the first week of living in their new home environment, so even tho they may be doing great with your kids, other dogs, playing at the local park or pet store etc.. that doesn't always mean this will last for a lifetime and that they are truly comfortable doing so, there's much more to it. As your puppy or new dog begins to become comfortable over time, and the "honeymoon phase" is over, he/she may start to act out, test boundaries and exhibit unwanted behaviors because while we were busy hugging, kissing and running around town with our new pup , we entirely forgot about working on the important variables of a relationship (trust, respect, clear communication, leadership, rules, boundaries etc..).
DECOMPRESSION PERIOD / THE TWO - WEEK SHUTDOWN:
Much like a newborn baby or Toddler, new dogs and puppies need time to adjust and adapt to their new environment (some dogs adapt quickly and others take more time so the 2 weeks is just a generalization). Most humans don't realize or understand this and immediately assume or expect their new dog/puppy to immediately be great with the kids, other dogs in the house, understand the routine etc.... but that's so unrealistic, even for the super easy, all around balanced dogs.
Imagine you are 10 years old and were just adopted by a new family . This family loves and showers you with affection and is very welcoming upon coming home. But, in the same day, they introduce you to your new siblings whom you are expected to become best friends with and play with immediately, that night you accompany them to their annual Christmas party and you meet the whole entire family , they are asking question after question, insisting you try some of their food, begging to hear about your life and they are eager to get to know - without taking into consideration how out of place you may be feeling. Then, the next day you are expected to make friends at your brand new school - PHEW , talk about an uncomfortable , emotional overload! Every human / and dog needs time to adjust to change - some more than others .
Below is a link to an incredible article elaborating and explaining the general step by step process to the 2 week shutdown and I highly recommend reading and applying it!
*AS RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERS, IT IS OUR JOB TO TEACH, GUIDE AND LEAD OUR DOG(S) THROUGH THE WORLD THAT WE LIVE IN. WITH TIME, PATIENCE, CONSISTENCY, LEADERSHIP AND A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF CANINES, YOU WILL BE GRANTED THE BEST GIFT OF ALL - AN EAGER, WELL-MANNERED, BALANCED DOG AND BEST PAL!
contributing source: www.akc.com