the First Two Weeks With Your Puppy
1. Teach your new dog the rules of your house from the very beginning. Dr. Ian Dunbar once said, "If you want your dog to follow the rule of the house, by all means, do not keep them a secret." When your dog first gets home, he or she may be a little confused and underuse of the new living situation. Even though your home is comfortable, it is different and that can be stressful. Remember that dogs don't understand us all the time and it is best to keep your expectations through training and management and that should begin the second you and puppy walk in the door. Do not give your puppy free run of the house in the beginning, and probably for the first 8 months at least. You may mean well to let them unwind, but they have no idea the rules and to save you both some irritating habits in the beginning, it is best to convey your expectations from the beginning. This will set your puppy up for success in training and save you both some messes.
2. Try not to overwhelm your new puppy with too much activity during the first week or so. The critical training period for a puppy is the first 16 weeks of their life. Though we work really hard to help them be well-rounded from the beginning with our early neuro stimulation and socialization. But the first week is pretty critical and you don't want to overwhelm them with stress of a lot of visitors and noise the first few days or week. Definitely introduce your puppy to all your close friends and family and you can even take them on a trip to the pet store once, but take it easy on them while they adjust to their new life. Once they seem pretty confident and comfortable with you, socialize, socialize, socialize and show that puppy off. They will enjoy all the attention!
Remember: Always teach your dog good habits, because good habits are as hard to break as bad habits
3. Keep your new puppy supervised at all times. This is the best way to keep puppy safe and out of trouble the first few weeks and probably the first few months. Your puppy will require a doggie den or a safe-place. This is a place they can rest and chew on toys during down time. This can be a kitchen or an x-pen area in the living room and a crate when you are out for some errands. If you are supervising your dog at all times when they aren't confined to their doggy den, your puppy will learn to settle quickly and know their what they are allowed to chew, because they know what you expect of them.
DO immediately show your puppy to their appropriate toilet area.
DO take them to designated potty area once and hour, on a leash (unless in middle of the night).
DO confine your dog to a doggie den whenever you are physically or mentally absent. Such as work, on the phone, sleeping, etc.
DO feed your dog a Kong full of treats stuffed with kibble and snacks throughout the day. You can use this with training as well.
DO provide a ton of chew toys to keep your puppy busy and prevent the chewing casualties of shoes, baseboards, etc and redirect any chewing mistakes by giving your puppy an appropriate toy. This will help establish this habit for life.
DO introduce your dog to new people and other pets gradually, but often as they get more confident. Use treats for a positive associated with people.
DO enroll in a basic obedience class right away. This will help you understand how to set your puppy up for success.
DON'T allow your puppy free run of the entire house right away or for the first 6-8 months, maybe even later or they may learn some bad habits or establish a nice pee corner. Establish boundaries early.
DON'T allow your puppy to be off-leash at a dog park until they have completed obedience training.
DON'T initially feed your dog out of a bowl. It can come from a Kong or your hand.
Introduce Crate Training
No matter how much the dog enjoys its crate, there will be occasions when the owner wants to confine the dog, but the dog does not want to be confined. Therefore, never call the dog and put it in the crate, or else it will soon become wary of approaching its owner when called. Instead, use a place command; "go to your crate." It is possible to enforce a place command without ruining the dog's recall.
Tell the puppy/dog "Go to your crate," lure it towards the crate with a food treat (kibble from dinner), and give the lure as a reward when the pup settles down inside. Praise the pup and periodically hand feed kibble while the pup is inside, but ignore the pup the moment it leaves. Feed the pup in the crate. Place pieces of kibble in the crate so the pup will develop the habit of visiting the crate on it's own. And whenever it does, praise the pup and offer especially tasty food treats, ignoring the pup when it leaves. The pup will soon learn it gets lots of attention, affection and goodies inside the crate, but very little outside.
Now accustom the pup to short confinement. Throw a treat in the crate and close the door long enough to give the pup two or three tasty treats through the gate, then open the crate. Repeat this many times over. It is important that the pup learns confinement does not necessarily mean 'for the duration." but, rather, for a short time - and a good time. Courtesy of Dr. Ian Dunbar from The American Kennel Club Magazine
Stages of Development
All those happy, well-behaved Australian Labradoodle dogs you meet that make you decide getting a puppy is the best idea ever, weren't always well-behaved puppies. Puppies need to be taught how to be good dogs by early obedience training and for you, their owner, to know what to expect in advance to help them (and yourself) through the puppy phase. Please read this Stages of Development resource given to me by Prairie Doodles that is extremely realistic and helpful in preparing you for what to expect with a puppy and how they grow. If you are a first time dog owner, you will appreciate this, we promise!
Want some more information about what to buy before puppy comes home?
Please enjoy Dog Time's complimentary online version's of Dr. Ian Dunbar's Before and After You Get Your Puppy