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Puppy’s First Week at Home (8-9 weeks old)

 

Start housetraining your pup the moment they coms home. It is important, and surprisingly easy, to train your puppy without them making a single toilet or chewing mistake. Each mistake will make training considerably more difficult. Puppies quickly establish toilet habits and even a single mistake heralds many more in the future. Also, punishing puppies for soiling the house or making chewing mistakes inadvertently teaches them to soil the house or chew on shoes while their owners are away (and therefore, cannot punish). Remember, good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits and so, housetrain your puppy from the outset.

Confinement is the secret to errorless housetraining — using a crate (and a puppy playroom) to make sure your unsupervised puppy will not make any mistakes. The whole point of confining puppies while they are young is so that they will be able to have as much freedom as possible when they are older. Alternatively, if you let your new puppy roam free and form bad house-habits, you will no doubt confine him as an adult. Also, of course, make sure you teach your puppy to love his crate and playroom.

With the proper use of a crate, it is very easy to predict when your puppy will need to use the toilet. This means you can take your puppy to your chosen toilet location and know they will promptly pee or poop so that you may reward them extravagantly and play with them indoors, knowing they won’t have an accident. Additionally, you are in complete control of what objects they have access to in their confinement areas, so they may learn to chew only appropriate items. Hollow chew toys stuffed with food will teach them what is appropriate to chew, and reward them for quietly enjoying some appropriate recreational chewing.

Regular, early confinement will help your puppy learn to enjoy spending time at home alone.

You need to ensure that an errorless housetraining and chew toy-training program is instituted the very first day your puppy comes home. During the first week, puppies characteristically learn good or bad habits that set a precedent for weeks, months, and sometimes years to come. Never forget, good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits!

The Very First Day Your Puppy Comes Home

Your canine newcomer is just itching to learn household manners. They want to please, but they have to learn how. Before the young pup can be trusted to have full run of the house, somebody must teach the house rules. There’s no point keeping house rules a secret. Somebody has to tell the pup. And that somebody is you. Otherwise, your puppy will let their imagination run wild in a quest for occupational therapy to pass the time of day. Without a firm grounding in canine domestic etiquette, your puppy will be left to improvise in their choice of toys and toilets. The pup will no doubt go to the toilet on carpets and floors, and your sofa and curtains will be viewed as mere playthings for destruction. Each mistake is a potential disaster since it heralds many more to come. If your pup is allowed to make “mistakes” bad habits will quickly become the status quo, making it necessary to break bad habits before teaching good ones.

Begin by teaching your puppy good habits from the very first day they come home. Your puppy’s living quarters need to be designed so that housetraining and chew toy training are errorless.

Puppy with a chew toy

Your puppy’s living quarters need to be designed so that housetraining and chew toy training are errorless.

Be certain that you fully understand the principles of long-term and short-term confinement before you bring your new puppy home. With a long-term and short-term confinement schedule, housetraining and chew toy-training are easy, efficient, and errorless. During their first few weeks at home, regular confinement (with chew toys stuffed with kibble) teaches the puppy to chew their toys, to settle down calmly and quietly, and not to become a recreational barker. Moreover, short-term confinement allows you to predict when your puppy needs to relieve themselves, so that you may take them to the right spot and reward them.

From the moment you choose your puppy, there is some considerable urgency regarding socialisation and training. There is no time to waste. An adult dog’s temperament and behaviour habits (both good and bad) are shaped during puppyhood — very early puppyhood. It is easy to make horrendous mistakes during your puppy’s first few weeks at home. Such errors usually have a permanent effect, influencing your pup’s behaviour and temperament for the rest of their life. This is not to say that unsocialised and untrained eight-week-old pups cannot be rehabilitated. They can if you work quickly. But while it’s easy to prevent behaviour and temperament problems, rehabilitation can be both difficult and time-consuming, and it is unlikely that your pup will ever become the adult dog he or she could have been.

Mistakes

If your pup is ever left unsupervised indoors, they will most certainly chew household articles and soil your house. Although these teeny accidents do little damage in themselves, they set a precedent for your puppy’s choice of toys and toilets for many months to come.

Any house soiling or chewing mistake you allow your puppy to make is absolute silliness and absolute seriousness: silliness because you are creating lots of future headaches for yourself, and seriousness because millions of dogs are euthanised each year because their owners did not know how to housetrain or chew toy train them.

You should treat any puppy house soiling or house-destruction mistake as a potential disaster since it predicts numerous future errors from a dog with larger bladder and bowels and much more destructive jaws. Many owners begin to notice their puppy’s destructiveness by the time he is four to five months old when the pup is characteristically relegated outdoors. Destruction is the product of a puppy’s boredom, lack of supervision, and a search for entertainment. Natural inquisitiveness prompts the lonely pup to dig, bark, and escape in his quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the day in solitary confinement. Once the neighbours complain about the dog’s incessant barking and periodic escapes, the dog is often further confined to a garage or shed. Usually, though, this is only a temporary measure until the dog is surrendered to a local animal shelter to play the lotto of life. Fewer than 25 % of surrendered dogs are adopted, of which about half are returned as soon as the new owners discover their adopted adolescent’s annoying problems.

The above summarises the fate of many dogs. Without a doubt, simple and predictable behavior problems are the number one terminal illness for domestic dogs. This is especially sad because all these simple problems could be prevented so easily. Housetraining and chew toy training are hardly rocket science. But you do need to know what to do. And you need to know what to do before you bring your puppy home. Make sure that your puppy does not develop life-threatening behaviour problems.

If you already have a puppy and feel that you are behind, do not throw in the towel. You must acknowledge, however, that you are behind and that your puppy’s socialisation and education are now a dire emergency. Immediately do your best to catch up. Immediately, seek help from a pet dog trainer. To locate a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Maybe take a week or two off of work to devote to your puppy. The younger your puppy, the easier and quicker it is to catch up on their developmental timetable and minimise losses. Every day you delay, however, makes it harder.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy

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