Tuesday Topics 7 - New Puppy Tips


These are photos of Cabana during the first month we got her--December 2008. If it weren't for blogging, the past four months would all be a big blur. I didn't start blogging until January, though--so for many reasons, December is still a big blur.

But I know that the GDB Puppy Truck is making its rounds now and that there are lots of folks waiting patiently (or not) for their puppy to arrive. Many people know what is in store for them with a brand new puppy, having raised before. But others are probably like I was--newbies without a clue.

So for today's Tuesday Topic, I thought it'd be great to share our best new puppy tips. Of course, we all know NOTHING is as wonderful as snuggling a little 2-month old puppy, smelling her puppy breath, and massaging all that loose skin that will take her months to grow into. But what helped you make it through those challenging first weeks, when the puppy is completely tabula rasa?


My tip: get ear plugs. Cabana barked and cried in her crate at night for the first two weeks, sometimes for as long as 45 minutes. It was really difficult to wait it out. I worried that she needed to relieve, even though she had just relieved. I worried that the neighbors could hear her and that she was keeping them awake. I worried that my kids couldn't sleep and would be tired at school the next day. I would lay in my bed, looking at the digital clock on my nightstand, and literally count each minute until she'd stop. Finally, I started using ear plugs, which didn't block out all the sound--but it helped me feel a little more relaxed. The barking didn't sound as loud, and I was able to stop watching the minutes on the clock.

Mitch and Mr. M  – (April 14, 2009 at 7:39 AM)  

I would be the impatient first time raiser! :D! I don't know if I've introduced myself yet, I'm Mitch, a first time teen puppy raiser for GDB! My first puppy, Mr. M, is coming on the puppy truck this friday!

Thank you for the tip! I'll buy some this week!

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (April 14, 2009 at 7:44 AM)  

Of course I know you, Mitch! (Just through your blog, nothing creepy.) This Tuesday Topic was inspired by YOU!!

Mitch and Mr. M  – (April 14, 2009 at 8:00 AM)  

Ok, I couldn't remember so I just had to make sure! And thank you for letting me be inspiration!

Megan and Fullerton  – (April 14, 2009 at 9:27 AM)  

Thats funny you pick this topic as I just taught the lesson at our last puppy class about "surviving the first few weeks with your new guide dog puppy." LOL Anywho, some of the stuff I talked about was being a leader: If the puppy doesn't have clear and firm leadership then the puppy will try to be the leader. The problem with that is the puppy doesn't know what is expected and that just leads to big problems in the future.

Also Teach good habits from the beginning. It is easier to teach good habits than fix the problems that come later.

I also talked about supervision. If the puppy can't be watched by someone then it goes in the crate. You can also tie the puppy (okay, not the actual puppy but its leash) to your waistband so it is always there with you and then has to follow you around the house. I did that with Fullerton and now he is totally loose in my house and follows me around everywhere. It is great!

I think the scariest part of raising though, even if you have had another dog in the past is outings. You may have trained your pet dogs perfectly but, all of a sudden you have this dog that you can take out in public (at the appropriate age of course) Outings should not be an overwhelming experience for the puppy. Choose quiet places at first and make outing short, about five to ten minutes. And WATCH your puppy while you are out. When you are preoccupied with you errand, at best the puppy will be learning bad habits like pulling on leash or picking up things in its mouth, and the worst it might have an accident or jump on people. When the puppy is older you will get a feel for the kinds of outings it can handle and how much supervision it will need. Then you can take them on more challenging outings, and include them more in your daily activities. :D Also, never take the puppy somewhere you can't leave. If the puppy begins to feel nervous or stressed leaving is the best option. You never want your puppy to have a negative experience in public.

Okay, stepping off my little soap box now. Enjoy my book. (Woops) Didn't intend for my comment to be quite that long

Megan & Fullerton

raiserally  – (April 14, 2009 at 10:28 AM)  

Since Megan's was sooo Long I'll keep mine short (*wink* Just teasing Megan, they were all Good points) is to follow the puppy manual. It's the puppy raising bible. The puppy is better on the floor than the lap so you don't have to retrain "four on the floor" at a later time, also be sure to feed a baby puppy by 5/6 p.m. and cut off water access at that point. It makes for a quieter night and they sleep longer not having to go out as much. And don't be afraid to ask questions! That's how we learn and we want to do this "right" and not Ruin the puppy which is a Huge concern with your first pup!

Most of all, enjoy the first couple weeks, they go by Way too fast!

Taelor and Pilaf  – (April 14, 2009 at 12:11 PM)  

I am so sorry. I was lucky enough to get three puppies that all slept through the night!!! :)

My tips are:1. Puppy Handling- Puppy handling is a magnificent and wonderful thing. ;) From the very beginning, don't be afraid to hold your puppy on it's back, lay it on it's side, etc. Not only does the puppy learn from this that it is NOT in charge, and you are, it also teaches the pup that it can trust you. If you are praising (in a calm and soothing voice) while he is in a submisive position, then he recognizes that to be "beneath" you is okay. I do exercises like this all throughout the pup's life, but at least once a day the first few weeks. =D

2. Crates!- I prefer to have my pup with me at all times (on tie doen next to me if not on leash), but if you have to do something that you can't do with a dog, don't be afraid to crate it! In fact, sometimes crating is actually a good thing for them. I give my pups about a 1 1/2- 2 hour "nap" in the afternoon after their lunch, and I find that this really helps.

3. Don't Re-inforce Whining- If your pup is whining (on tie down, in crate, et [and you know it doesn't have to relieve]) just try to ignoe it and don't respong in any way. Then, when they stop (I usually count to 10)praie them. If they start whining again, emmidiately stop praise. This teaches them that rewards come through good behavior.

4. Don't be Discauraged!- Pups will go through tough times! Don't be discauraged and don't give up. Know that you can get through it (with the help of your leaders of course)!!!

And so ends my WAY too long comment. XP I think I might be close Megan's length!!! XP

Poppy The Puppy  – (April 14, 2009 at 12:35 PM)  

Remember that there is a big difference between teaching and reacting! We react to pee on the floor, something in the mouth, biting, barking, etc. If we are constantly reacting, we are not teaching the right thing. We tend to react in haste. We are loud and dramatic. Rather than learning to not do whatever behavior it is, they are learning that they shouldn't get caught.

We teach by being proactive, anticipating their needs and watching body language to change the behavior before it happens. Teaching happens in a calm manner. We are keeping our heads rather than losing it. It requires a lot more attention and supervision than reacting, but the extra time and energy in those early days really pays off later! (believe me!! I am currently correcting months of reactive training!)

The last two may seem like they counter each other, but they are both important to remember. First, puppies just do what puppies do. They don't know how we expect them to interact with the world around them. Because of that, all of the things they do wrong are actually our fault. We were not actively teaching them when they did something we think is wrong. They are not being intentially bad, WE are making mistakes.

That said, don't blame yourself for problems. We can't possibly catch every little thing. Don't beat yourself up, but use the experience to do better next time you are with the puppy. Each puppy teaches us something new. Even puppy #17 is teaching me something new and making me a better raiser. I won't be perfect with #18 either, but my "bag of tools" to avoid problems will be just a little bigger.

Madison and Andros  – (April 14, 2009 at 5:09 PM)  

My tips for new raisers:

Don't take then places before they are ready. Don't worry the time will come when they are ready and it will be even better than if you take then too early.

Use the crate...whenever you can't watch your pup with your full undivided attention...put it in the crate.

Laslty..take pictures of EVERYTHING. Whatever you do with the pup...take a picture of it. As the years go on, you'll start to forget your time with your past pups. Pictures help you remember. Also making a "puppy book" is a great way to remember!

Emily and the Labradors  – (April 14, 2009 at 5:23 PM)  

Hehe... I just found out that I get to pick up a baby puppy for a family who is out of town this weekend and keep her for the weekend :) Puppy breath for me too! I wonder if they will notice if I give them Douglas on Sunday...

Anyway, I'll second the comments about the crate... any time you can't watch her, put her in the crate, even if it is just for a few minutes while you shower or walk your other dogs.

I am also a fan of feeding dinner early (4-5 pm) and cutting water off early too (6 or 7 pm). And if the puppy is a tanker, one of my favorite tricks is to measure the pups water for the day and put it in a bottle (I'd have to look up the calculation for how much they need, but babies don't need more than a liter for the day if I remember right). Then I use that water to add to food and give them drinks over the day. Helps me make sure they are getting enough but not too much water.

Erin,Bubs,Tex and Veda  – (April 14, 2009 at 6:54 PM)  

Take Lots of pictures and have a schedule!!

OSU 98  – (April 14, 2009 at 7:51 PM)  

If he looks like he needs to go out, he does. :)

Sarah and the Pack.  – (April 15, 2009 at 7:32 AM)  

Hmmm...

Lots of great comments. For me, part of the big part of bringing home a new pup is introducing him to my new dogs. Because you never want to overwhelm the new pup, it is best to introduce new dogs one at a time. For the first 24 hours, my pups do not get to meet face to face. I put up baby gates so that everyone can smell eachother without the pressure of a face to face interaction.

When feeding I will put my new pup in his crate so that he does not try to bother the big dogs, and so they don't bother him! I have also found this an excellent way to build the pups love for their crate from day one! All my dogs (pet and GDB) that I have started from a pup LOVE their crates! My current pup, Millie, who was a transfer, was not crated much when she was a pup, and it has been more of a struggle to get her to like her crate.

Finally, let the pup be a pup! Outings will come soon enough, and stressing while having a baby out in public only makes it harder in the long run. That stress travels down the leash and can make the pup dislike going to new places. Take tons of pictures, because before you know it they will be all grown up!

Coreena and Eva  – (April 16, 2009 at 7:41 PM)  

My really big tip: Remember, you are always learning and teaching. It's a tough balance, but when you find how to do it best for you, you and your puppy (ies) will be happier and get along better!

Lacey  – (April 16, 2009 at 9:11 PM)  

I thought "Poppy's" comments were fantastic. You're such a young pup, Poppy; how'd you get so good at training (guess you got to understand what works to make sure you notice when your mom tries it, huh? :) I wish I could have gotten my family to understand everything you said.

My tips: Don't give into attempts to get out of the crate, off tie-down, away from the leash, etc. Give puppy plenty of time to relieve before bed- and then if they whine in the crate let them. Until a few hours later anyways, when puppy might actually have to go again. If, immediately, after going into the crate, puppy really does have to go to the bathroom, and your attempts to ignore crying leave you with a mess, take a big breath, and hope that puppy quickly learns to use that long time outside to relieve before bed.

Second: I know this has already been said, but I don't think it can be said enough. I know how exciting it is to take new puppy everywhere and show everyone, believe me, I do. I did it. But don't! I mean, if you have a few friends or whatever and you need to take puppy to see them at work or something, fine- a few friends!. But wait awhile to take puppy to meet your entire community at Wal-mart. It won't hurt puppy at all to have some extra time, could definitely prevent some big problems, and I promise, Wal-mart and all the people will still be there in six weeks. And puppy will still be adorable and much better prepared to learn from the experience.

Dupree's Raisers  – (April 24, 2009 at 1:11 PM)  

Thank you so much for staring this discussion! Perfect timing for some of us! We've had Dupree for only 5 days, and these comments and suggestions all hit the mark for us. Thanks again!

Also, Cabana's raiser, thanks for the tips on relieving that you left on our blog... good ideas!

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