Recently, I was asked by a reader of this blog to address the topic of house training their new puppy. Yet, prior to me sharing information on house training, I thought it wise to share some things that need to take place prior to you bringing your new puppy to your home.
This is a subject I have decades of experience. As a matter of fact, I was asked to do a blog, specifically, oriented to the topic of pets…their house training, behavior issues, etc. This is precisely why I named this blog “An Eclectic Array of Topics”. Using this name on the blog, gives me the latitude to write on numerous topics.
Prior to actually selecting your puppy, do your homework. Make a decision upon the breed you like and that would be best suited to your family. Check out web sites that give you necessary information as to the specific amount of time it will take to own this breed of pet (grooming, play, exercise, training, etc.) talk to friends, go to a dog show, ask questions of a local veterinarian, etc. If you choose to ‘adopt’ a pet through a Humane Society…visit there, and I don’t mean only once! Ask questions of the staff as to how they came to have this particular pet and if there were any particular issues regarding this pet. Most of them also have a private room where you and the family can get acquainted with the pet you are considering on adopting.
Many dogs/puppies have health issues, specific to that breed. If you are going to get your pet through a breeder…ask questions! A reputable breeder is always more than happy for you to look at the way they maintain their animals. They are also quick to let you view the health records of their animals They are grateful that you have knowledge enough to ask the right questions. Afterall, they want their puppies to go to the best homes…some breeders may even ask you to fill out an application.
A reputable breeder will also let you know the kind of food the pup has been fed, since being weaned. My, personal, experience has been that the breeder gives me enough food for the puppy for a couple weeks to take home with me.
Prior to you bringing your new “fur baby” home, you first need to have things prepared. Personally, I’ve found the thing that has worked for me the best is housing my new “fur baby” in a crate. This serves not only as a place the pup will feel safe, but it’s their “den”. The crates I’ve used are “size appropriate” to the breed. For instance; I would not get a cage the size a Great Dane would need for my little Sheltie, or vice versa. You should also have purchased some of the necessary grooming tools you’ll need…again, this is breed specific. It’s also wise to have a few toys…specific to your breed, size and age. (Very important!) Never give a puppy an old shoe to play with or use as a chew toy…they do not know the difference between that old shoe and one of your good shoes!
Crates need to be able to fit your pup when he reaches his/her adult size. The style I’ve found that works the best is one that has the bottom that slides out…this makes cleaning very easy. I also put something soft on the bottom for her to lay on…could be a blanket, or a regular sized padded (flat) crate bed. Personally, I made my own. I used a combination of cedar shavings and foam pieces. This was purchased at a craft store or store that sells sewing products. It comes in a big bag. I mix it then put that into a liner…then sew it up. Then I made a cover (like a big pillow case). I used corduroy, plaid on one side, solid color on the other. I sewed velcro on the edges to close it. Washing the cover is extremely easy. Just remove the cover from the cedar/foam liner, and throw the cover in the washer. Oops! I need to mention that prior to you making your own cover…wash the fabric. This will take care of any shrinkage!
It was my friend (she’s a Veterinarian) that recommended using the combination of cedar shavings & foam pieces. The cedar is a natural bug repellent and the foam makes it softer for your pet. The crate can also have a water dish attached to the inside. Since my “fur baby” is a small breed….I got a water/food dish for large pet birds…stainless steel (20 ounce capacity) for water. It just bolts onto the inside of the crate…and the pup cannot knock it over! Also, very easy to keep clean.
Again, prior to bringing your new little addition home, PLEASE, have things prepared ahead of time. Once you walk through the door with your new little one, he/she will be frightened. Experience has taught me, that since the crate (wire crate) is open on all four sides, it worked best if I used a sheet or a light weight blanket to cover three sides of the crate…leaving the door area uncovered. It makes them feel more safe and secure.
It’s very important that you’ve preselected a veterinarian ahead of time. I took my little Sheltie for her first vet. check-up within the first week I had her. Also that you have the type of food recommended by the breeder. You can always change this later, but it needs to be done gradually. Puppies have very sensitive tummies. Also make sure you have a collar that fits properly and a leash! Since your puppy grows rapidly, make sure you are vigilant on making sure it does not get too tight…and make adjustments accordingly.
Personally, by the time my little Sheltie was 7 weeks old, she could out run me. This was the reason I decided to use a harness, rather than a regular collar. This gave me much better control. Once she learned to stop running so fast every time her tiny feet got outside, I gradually introduced her to a collar.
Collars can be tricky! Since I have a Sheltie and they are long haired dogs, with a white mane…a metal choke chain is out of the question! The metal discolors her fur, not to mention always would get tangled up in her hair. Since she is now an adult, I have a “rolled leather” collar. Whoever invented this type collar was a genius!
Leashes also have to be size and weight appropriate. Yet, a training leash is usually a 6 ft long leather leash. For everyday use, I use a “retractable leash”. These leashes are sold according to what the dog’s adult weight will be. For instance; My Sheltie’s adult weight is about 16 lbs. My “retractable leash” is for dogs up to 25 lbs and extends up to 26 ft in length. These retractable leashes are great. It gives you total control of how far they can get from you.
My Sheltie has had extensive training. So when we are out for a walk, she is right at my side. Yet, if I’m in an area that affords her a bit more freedom, she can go as far as 26 ft, and is still under my control at all times. These leashes are ‘push button’. I think I paid about $26 for this, but it’s something you only need to purchase once.
Many people have said that a ticking clock at night may help your new pup to feel a bit more secure (representing the heartbeat of his/her Mom & siblings). I have found this, indeed, works…but do not place it inside the crate. You must realize, though, that for a few nights your new little one will cry. Personally, I’ve never just left a new little puppy to cry for extended periods of time. As a matter of fact, until my little Sheltie got used to living with us, I kept her crate in my bedroom at night. I was nearby, and when she’d cry, I could reassure her. I’m totally convinced this is what was “KEY” to making her entire training process so easy.
Well…we’ve at least got your new little “Fur Baby” home. I will, indeed, share what I’ve learned over decades concerning house training in a subsequent post. Until then…enjoy your puppy. They grow up so very fast. Take lots of photos…they change so rapidly!