**Guest post from Ellen B.**
Getting a new puppy is big commitment and a decision my family and I did not take lightly. (Read about our puppy decision!) We were determined to be prepared to raise a well-behaved, happy puppy, so preparing for our puppy started weeks prior to actually bringing her home. We read several books and every puppy article on PetEducation.com. (“We” consisted of my husband, 18-year-old son, and me. My older daughter enjoyed the excitement from college.)
Since leaving her littermates would likely be a BIG change in her life, we wanted to make the puppy’s first few days with us as calm, low-key, and welcoming as possible. Our car ride home from the shelter was only a short five minutes, and it was a one-time-only exception to the rule of always having her in a crate or car restraint in the car. We wrapped the puppy in a blanket and my son held her close to make the ride less scary and as soothing as possible.
The next step was to introduce our new puppy to Kobe, our 3-year-old dog. Kobe is crated when we’re not at home, so we let the puppy and Kobe sniff each other while Kobe was still in his crate. The puppy was very happy to see another dog, but I don’t think Kobe returned that sentiment. However, he tolerated her and had no problem letting the puppy know that he would NOT accept her biting him. Since the puppy was only 6 weeks old when we got her, the littermates had not yet fully taught each other the dos and don’ts of biting. Thanks to Kobe’s help, she learned quickly, and within 5 days, Kobe and the puppy had their first mutual playtime!
Side note: Have you noticed I have been referring to “the puppy” instead of her name? That’s because it took us 3 days to name her! I wanted to let my kids pick her name (with my final approval) but they just couldn’t agree. I looked at every website out there that suggests puppy names and I admit even lost sleep over it. Sophie, Raji, Kalli, Lucy… In the end, Izzy became her name.
It was important to us that we spend the entire first 24 hours with her, and as much of the next few days as possible. Unfortunately, we had to pick her up on a day that was not the best for our schedule, but we did our best. She was never alone for the first 24 hours. The first night, my son even slept in the living room, which is where we kept her crate.
So our new puppy is home and you probably have picture in your mind of a cute little puppy sleeping peacefully, and the whole house being filled with happiness over this warm, fuzzy, loving new puppy? WRONG! She was a crazy biter! She bit everything and everyone. She chewed on rugs, furniture, blankets and anything else she could sink her teeth into. She howled at night! She had accidents in the house. SHE. WAS. EXHAUSTING! I remember looking at my son on day 2 and saying “are we in over our heads?” In the most serious of tones, he looked straight at me and replied, “Yes, we are.” But of course we weren’t going to give her up even though we had come to a new realization of exactly what the phrase “puppies are A LOT of work” really meant.
Nighttime whining was a tough one to deal with. Dr. Kathy Hillestad, one of the veterinarians that I work with here at Drs. Foster & Smith, had given me a booklet that our vet team had written. We took that advice which was:
We highly recommend that puppies sleep in their crates, since this keeps them safe, and since we feel it makes housetraining easier. Whatever you decide, establish the routine which you intend to follow from the very first night. Once it’s bedtime and your pup has been out to go to the bathroom, put him in his crate, with a few safe chew toys, and leave him alone. You may have to listen to some whining (maybe a lot) at first, but eventually your puppy will settle down and go to sleep. If you talk to him, or keep letting him out of his crate (except to take him out to the bathroom), he will realize that whining brings attention. At that point, you’ve taught your dog a bad habit, one that you will have to live with for the rest of your dog’s life. Although we know how hard it is to listen to that cute bundle of fur whine, it won’t go on forever, and we promise, your dog is not sitting in his crate thinking about how mean you are. Eventually, he will go to sleep, and then you’re on the way to establishing a good bedtime routine.
After having her at home for a week and a half, we started to get into a new routine but we had some questions about how to handle the biting, chewing, the two dogs roughhousing, etc. I’m really happy that we had a local dog training team come to our house for a 1-hour session. They answered so many questions and gave us great tips – especially on the whole frantic biting/chewing issue. They helped us feel more confident and things really seemed better after their visit. (Thanks Deb & Kat from NorthwoodsK9Sports.)
- Puppy Nipping and Mouthing
- Puppy Socialization: The Critical First Month
- When Do Puppies Lose Their Teeth?
|See All Posts in Ellen’s “New Puppy” Series: