Congratulations on your new puppy! You are about to embark on a special journey...PUPPYHOOD! Raising a puppy can be difficult, challenging, tiring and very rewarding (did we mention challenging?). Our job is to help you and your puppy develop a bond that will last a lifetime. We will provide you with guidance, resources, and helpful hints to nurture that bond and keep your puppy happy and healthy.
To understand how a puppy's mind and body work there are a few key things to keep in mind:
Exercise - This is the solution to almost every dilemma of the frustrated puppy owner. Exercise is key to raising a puppy you can live with. Very few animals will exercise themselves. This is an interactive process between the puppy and the owner. Playing fetch, playing tag, leash walking, jogging and playing with toys are all great ways to engage your puppy in activity. This is critically important for puppies which are being crate trained. Remember: a tired puppy is a happy puppy!
Crate = Den - Your puppy's ancestors used a "den" or cave-like shelter for their sleeping quarters. This instinct is still very strong in your new dog. We take advantage of this instinct to streamline the housebreaking process. The ideal situation is to create a "den" for your puppy using a crate or wire cage. Most animals will not willingly soil their sleeping quarters so when you remove the puppy from the crate she has been holding their urine and stool. This provides you an opportunity for a great housebreaking lesson: a puppy that needs to "go" and a chance to get her outside.
Substrate Preference - Think of grass the way you think of cat litter. Cats instinctively have a substrate preference for litter or sand. If only it was that easy with dogs. In New York City, dogs often defecate on concrete, that becomes their substrate preference. In the Midwest, we usually want our dogs to urinate and defecate on grass. The only way for that to happen is for them to have repeated exposure to grass when they also need to "go". Eventually they signal to go outside because they prefer to get out to the grass, not because they fear punishment if they urinate or defecate inside. Remember: your puppy can develop a substrate preference for carpet, tile, linoleum, hardwood...
Bite Inhibition - If you have ever seen a group of puppies playing it is just like your mom used to say, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." That concept is used by puppies and kittens to learn how hard they can bite without hurting their littermates. The intensity of play will continue to escalate until one puppy gets bit just a little too hard and gives a loud "yip". All the other puppies stop, look around and eventually learn what they can and can't get away with. Puppies will bite and chew you because you are now replacing their littermates. Unless you let them know they don't learn this critical lesson.
Maternal Antibodies - If your puppy's mother was vaccinated, she passed this "maternal antibody" on to her offspring across her placenta and through her milk. A puppy is then born with an immune system ready to fight off disease. This protection is completely lost between 6 and 16 weeks of age. We don't know exactly when this happens so your puppy will be vaccinated in a series (every 3 weeks) to give him the best opportunity to develop his own immunity. Most vaccines given while they still are protected with maternal antibodies are not effective. Remember: it's not how many vaccines are given, it's when they are given.
The Gastro-Colic Reflex - This one is simple, the food goes in and the food goes out. Filling the stomach (gastro) results in emptying the colon (colic). In other words after your puppy eats, he is going to have a bowel movement. Leave time for a potty break after feeding, your puppy will need it!
An Unsupervised Puppy is a Puppy in Trouble - Allowing a puppy who isn't completely housebroken to run loose in your house is not fair! The puppy has absolutely no reason not to go to the bathroom, be destructive or otherwise get themselves into heaps of trouble! You cannot expect a puppy to make appropriate decisions without constant supervision. If you find your puppy has had an accident or just chewed up your new shoes and you were in the shower, on the phone or otherwise distracted, it is your fault! Until the puppy has made significant progress in house training, keep them in the crate, on a leash, outside, in your arms or directly in sight at all times.
Time is of the Essence - It seems everyone is short on time. This may be the one thing that you can give your puppy now and expect it to be paid back 100 times. To help your puppy become a good citizen at home and away, you must be willing to invest a significant amount of time interacting and teaching on a daily basis. Make it a priority now and enroll in a socialization class. Have the entire family commit to daily blocks of time to exercise and train the puppy. Embrace this concept and you will not regret it.
We told you it would be challenging! If you learn and understand these simple ideas you are on your way to raising a "super puppy". Don't give up and remember that we are here to help.
There are so many great resources available to make puppyhood a wonderful experience for your and your puppy, you just need to take advantage of them. You will hear us reference these same ideas over and over so feel free to ask questions if you hit a bump in the road.
GOOD LUCK! and remember that a kind word and pat on the head is all the encouragement your puppy needs. When he makes a mistake, figure out WHY and acknowledge that is was probably due to lack of supervision. When he does something right, let him know and chances are he'll try to do it again.
We are happy to answer your questions or provide additional information.
Give us a call at 816-761-5071 or contact us online.
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