If you have decided to buy a puppy, there are some things you need to know in advance. Puppies are in a litter with their mom for about 8 weeks. Toy breeds should stay a bit longer because they are slower maturing. Puppies need to stay with their litter because this is the time that they learn their social skills. It is much like children in day care and grade school. They learn how to read other kids and how to react appropriately.
They also learn bite inhibition from their siblings and from their mom. Even singleton puppies will learn these things from the mother. Don’t ever let a breeder talk you into taking a puppy younger than 7 weeks. A breeder is there to make sure her puppies are everything they should be, well socialized, healthy and confident pups.
Look for a breeder who does things with the puppies. Getting puppies out of the litter box and out on a walk with their mom and siblings prepares them for the real world. They learn how to negotiate walking through stones and grass and they are introduced to a world of new smells. If your breeder has not done things like this with your puppy, you can do some of this yourself as soon as you get the puppy home. Most puppies will stay right with you, so let the puppy drag a very light leash so that it gets used to the leash. Gradually start picking the leash up and encourage the pup to go with you on the leash.
Take your pup everywhere you go as long as the weather is not extreme. Take them in the car right away. Take them to pet food stores and anywhere else that it is safe and clean. Be wary of dirty pathways where a lot of dog fecal matter is lying around as your dog can pick up nasty virus before it is fully vaccinated.
Get your puppy a crate and crate train your dog. This is very important if your dog ever has to spend time at the vet or in a boarding kennel.
All this applies doubly so to farm dogs! Because they so rarely get off the farm they need to develop some socialization skills at an early age. It takes very little time to prepare a dog for trips to the vet. Your dog will be happier for it as well your veterinarian.
Puppies at this age do very well with some easy obedience training that is done with a clicker. It is not for everyone but if you want to do some obedience later on this is the time to start it.
Feeding puppies is fairly straight forward. Put the food down for the puppy. Give him 5 to 10 minutes to clean it up and pick the empty or partly empty bowl up. Don’t bother the dog while it is eating and don’t let the kids bother him either. Just walk away and leave it alone. If you have more than one dog, feed the puppy separately at first so the other dog does not steal the pups food.
Always keep in mind that everything they do at 8 weeks they will continue to do at 8 months. So if you are not okay with your dog jumping up and getting on furniture, now is the time to stop that.
Biting human hands is something that many puppies will try in their first weeks in their new home.
Biting a human is totally unacceptable for any puppy or dog of any age to do. If you allow this behaviour to continue….at what age is it going to be unacceptable? How are you going to tell an 80 pound Doberman that you want him to stop that biting?
The time to stop it is right now and not a moment later! One bite from a dog can often be a death sentence for that dog.
When he bites you, scream like someone just cut your throat. Stop interacting with the dog and turn away from the dog, wait a few seconds and turn around and act like nothing happened. This is what their mothers and siblings do. When it gets rough the puppies stop playing and this teaches a pup his limitations. Dog trainers refer to this as bite inhibition! Whatever you do though, keep it non confrontational. If you try to make a big huge issue out of this, the dog will become more aggressive.
Don’t engage in rough play with the dog using your hands. If you want to play with the pup use a rope toy or something similar. In this way, you teach the dog to play but you also teach him to play with a toy and not your hands. Always make sure that the game stops when YOU want it to stop. Use a word like out or give when you want to end the game and have the dog drop the treat. Exchange a treat for the toy in the beginning while the dog learns what out or give means. Dogs understand giving up something of less value for something of greater value. Don’t engage in roughhousing with your If the game becomes too intense. Avoid it until you can control the game. For some dogs even tug of war will be too intense for them and should be avoided.)
Some puppies may respond to you holding your hand firmly over their muzzle. You can add a command like “no bite” to these exercises but the behaviour should stop after about 3 or 4 episodes if you use these techniques.
Sometimes biting can be a bit worse when pups start teething. Take some hard rubber toys that your dog really likes and put them in the freezer and give those to your puppy to soothe his sore gums.
Instead of feeding all of your dogs kibble to him in a bowl, offer him pieces throughout the day in exchange for a sit, or a down or shake a paw. Hold the food in such a way that your fingers are entirely covering the food. The dogs first reaction is going to be to grab your fingers. If he tries to do that say “AHHH” in a growly tone of voice. When the dog looks up at you offer him the treat. This teaches the dog that you are in control of the resources and the food and he has to behave himself to get what he wants.
These exercises are important for all breeds of dogs especially the cute little toy breeds.
Tis the season of a new puppy…..perhaps one that you received as a Christmas present. Hopefully one that is at least 8 weeks old.
So now what? Where should you start?
The obvious first answer to that is house training. Failure to house train is often cited as the number one reason for giving a dog up.
And over the life time of the dog, the first week or two that you spend on training your dog to eliminate outdoors is going to save you a fortune in cleaning supplies and ruined carpets.
To start with get a crate. Dogs are den animals and most will come to truly love their crate.
Put the pup in the crate at all times when you are not actively supervising the puppy.
When the pup is out of the crate, close all doors to rooms that you can’t easily see and reduce the area that the puppy can access until house training is better established.
The secret to housebreaking is to get the dog to adjust its schedule. Put the dog out those times when it is most likely to need to eliminate such as
* upon waking up
* prior to and after confinement
* after playing
* after the arrival of someone
* before and after car rides
* after accidents
* if the dog is restless, trying to leave room, whiny, etc
* after eating and drinking
o young pups under 3 months within 15 minutes
o 3 to 6 months-within 30 minutes
o over 6 months within 40 to 60 minutes
Don’t send the dog out in the backyard to do his business. You take the pup out on a leash. Being on a leash teaches the dog that he can go while on a leash and prevents him from thinking that he has to be off of a leash to eliminate. Keeping him on a leash introduces him to the leash and it also keeps you right by your pup’s side so that you can praise him the moment that he does pee.
Keep your puppy crated at night and it is always best if the pup can learn to sleep in a crate in your bedroom. Most puppies can hold their bladder overnight by the time they are 8 weeks old….but smaller dogs usually take a bit longer to be able to hold it. If your puppy is having trouble sleeping you can try simply touching them through the crate.
This will usually relieve their anxiety.