So you just got a new puppy. He is the cutest thing ever! He will be the center of your life. Knowing this, we hope you have blocked off a week to spend acclimating him to his new home and environment. It's important to get him comfortable and established in his new home and with your routines It is a big change for him and you. Right now, he is the love of your life and all his silly antics are just too cute and adorable, but as he gets older the habits he creates now, will be harder to break, so let’s break bad doggie behavior before it becomes a habit.
We did, early stimulation, early socialization, temperament testing and we have made a good match according to his numbers and your needs. BUT and this is a very important but…you will develop your puppy into the adult he was born to be or into the adult he has to be. It is crucial that you are teaching your puppy how to live in the human world. The biggest mistake that you can make is:
NOT REALIZING THAT YOU ARE DEVELOPING HIS WORLD.
Not socializing your puppy
Not setting limits
Not addressing bad behavior
Not embracing the crate
NOT SOCIALIZING YOUR PUPPY
While we have done the early socialization and have developed a schedule for him, it was only the primary work. Think of it this way, we have done the primary school education, but now he is ready for secondary school. You need to take him out to meet people and other (known) dogs. Set up some play dates with friends or take him to a group puppy training class. Group trainers require puppies to have their vaccinations. They may not accept puppies prior to 12 weeks of age because they may require a rabies vaccine. If this is the case, then the three weeks you are waiting, take him to work, to Lowe’s, a friend’s home, to pick up your kids from school and let kids play with him, etc. He needs exposure but it needs to be in a relatively controlled area. Where there are not a lot of other dogs. I would avoid stores like PetCo and PetSmart because they get all kinds of excited new puppy owners that may not have gotten their puppy from a reputable breeder and their new puppy may have parvo. It is not a good idea to willingly expose your puppy to the parvo or distemper virus. That is another blog entirely. But puppies are not fully vaccinated against common puppy viruses until they are 16 weeks old. So be wise in your socialization but do it! It is vital to their well-being and adult temperaments.
NOT SETTING LIMITS
Limit and monitor his space. Your puppy doesn’t need the entire home to roam. He has a lifetime to explore it freely. For his puppy-hood limit his access to the rooms in your home. Provide him with a play pen in the area of the house that has the most activity and when you can’t hawk eye watch him, put him in it with some toys and puppy puzzles. This pen should have his crate (open door), his water, a pee pad, and fun toys. At first he will protest, jump up on the sides of the pen, howl and cry because he is a pack animal, and he doesn’t want to be separate from his pack, but truthfully speaking he is not living with dogs, but humans and we don’t pile up on each other. So he will have to learn how to be alone (but not alone). Most importantly tether him with a leash to your body. When you do want to leave the room but you don’t want to leave him behind, take him with you by virtue of a leash. He can go to the other rooms but he cannot be unsupervised in them. Did I ever mention that your most reliable training tool is a leash?
ALLOWING CUTE BEHAVIORS TO BECOME BAD HABITS
Setting puppy behavioral limits is essential for his adult behavior. He is not a complex emotional creature but he will have all of the basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, disgust, and, yes, love. He does not experience the more complex emotions like guilt, pride, embarrassment, or shame. He also won’t hold a grudge when he is corrected (no pride issues). So set those limits. No jumping, no biting, no leash pulling, no darting out the door, no whining.
Puppies love to be with us. They are social creatures that is why we get along so well with them. They are like us, but they don’t complain, or disagree. They just go with the flow. Some of the things that we let them get away with as puppies because it is just so darn cute can become major problems for us when they grow up. Like jumping, any kind of jumping especially the kind that aims directly at your face is a problem. They tend to do this when we are sitting with them playing. This needs to be a BIG NO! on your list. Also, crowding your space or lap when not invited. This will be a problem as an adult. The one way dogs are not like us is that they are not emotional creatures. They do not get hurt feelings when you address these issues. So don’t be afraid to tell them no, or to stop playing with them for a short time when they get out of hand. This is how their own litter mates and adult dogs communicate to them that their behavior is not acceptable. Dogs will stop interacting or growl at puppies when they are not being respectful. A disrespectful puppy can become a very disobedient adult and even become a dangerous liability. Biting and leash pulling are also HUGE NO’s! Don’t encourage it unwittingly. See my blog entitled “Ouch… That Hurts!” and “Stop Jumping on Me…Geesh!” These both can help you get a handle on cute puppy behaviors that become bad habits later in their life. So be a good puppy parent and address it.
NOT MAKING THE CRATE THEIR OASIS
A puppy needs security, but most importantly safety from himself. A crate will provide that for him. So let’s discuss the crate. The crate is not a punishment area. It is a safe place to keep your puppy when you go to bed at night or you have to leave for a few hours. It is NEVER wise to leave a puppy on his own, ever. He can get into serious trouble. I’m getting ready to share a very heart wrenching story that has left our family with mixed emotions. Every time I think of it, it troubles me to the point of tears. About five years ago, my sister was headed to the movie theater there on the corner was someone selling mixed breed puppies the puppies were as mix of Siberian Husky and Newfoundland. This did not make the brightest combination. But they were cute and she couldn’t resist so Chili became a part of her family and ours. She lived to the ripe age of 1 ½ years old. Chili had an obsession for Doritos. She would beg constantly for them. My sister did not introduce these delectable chips to her, but her husband it. Oaf...it is never a good idea to give a dog people food. Once Chili got a taste for these chips, she became obsessed. To the point of figuring out how to open the pantry to get to them. They started placing them on top of their refrigerator. At the age of one year old, Chili was no longer crated and was able to stay out when they left for short trips to the store, date night, or doctor appointments. One day they had an unexpected event happen and had to rush out the door, no biggie, they would not be gone for long. As a matter of fact, they were only gone less than 30 minutes. When they left, they left a bag of Doritos out on the coffee table. Upon their return home, they found Chili in their hallway. She had suffocated. She had put her head into the family sized bag of chips and could not get it off. Devastated is not the word to describe it. To this day when I think too deeply about this is makes me sick to my stomach. It left a permanent scar on our hearts. My sister now owns two goldendoodles. One is five years old and the other just over a year and they have never been left to roam the house. Both have their own crates and are crated when my sister leaves even for 10 minutes to get gas or pick up her daughter from school. She will never leave a dog out…this is her scar. The point of this sad story is to warn you of the dangers of leaving a puppy or young impulsive dog to roam free too soon. Don’t become like my sister and fear leaving him out alone, but use good judgement. Your puppy/dog will let you know when he is ready.