Bringing home a new puppy can be one of the most exciting experiences in life. It is incredibly important to get them started on the right paw to ensure they are not only healthy-- but also that they do not form bad habits at a young age that are difficult to break.
# 1 How to Housebreak a Puppy
One of the most important things is to have an appropriate place in the house that they can confine the puppy when they're not able to take the puppy outside for elimination. A lot of people like to do crate training, which is fine. But I also like just a confinement strategy, like an exercise pen, that has a bed and some toys and food and water and a fresh patch, which is sod. This way the dog learns how to eliminate on the right substrate from the very beginning. That way it's a puppy playpen. So if you don't have the time to watch a puppy constantly, you can place him or her in there.
How Often to Take Your Puppy Out to Potty:
Little puppies, especially eight week old puppies, need to go out about every hour. They certainly need to go out after they play, they need to go out after they eat, they need to go out after they take a nap. They need to go out a lot.
How to Best Support Consistent Behavior:
It’s important that you dedicate a chunk of time to your housebreaking efforts. If you have a weekend or even better a week to devote to house breaking, you'll have a lot more success. It's very important that they go outside on a leash, that you take them to the same place every time, and that you let them walk just a little bit back and forth in one area.
It's important when you take them outside that they get a treat after they eliminate and a "good boy." A "good boy" is not sufficient. A treat is really important for successful house breaking.
#2 How to Stop Puppy Play Biting
We have all experienced puppy biting, it can be really difficult and very painful. Puppies explore with their mouths, so this is a natural behavior for them. When they place their mouth on your skin, you must immediately make some kind of sound and withdraw yourself.
It doesn't need to be a high screech. It can be a low, "Aah." But you need to remove your hands and walk away. Play needs to end as soon as the puppy puts his mouth on your skin.
It's especially important to not play with the puppy with hands. A lot of people like to do that and it's a tease and it just engages the puppy in hands rather than to a toy. So you always want to play with a toy or redirect to a toy.
It is a very difficult thing to break, and it is something that requires a lot of consistency in doing that. And everyone in the house needs to do it.
#3 Socializing Your Puppy: When to Start and Why it’s Important
Sometimes new puppy owners are told by whoever they are adopting or purchasing a dog from that they should wait to socialize the puppy until all vaccines are finished. Here at The Drake Center, we are big proponents of getting puppies into puppy class immediately. That eight week period, eight to twelve and eight to sixteen weeks is such a critical time for socialization. In our experience, we have never seen a puppy, even at eight weeks old, have any serious issues from attending a puppy class.
Francine had this to say when we asked her opinion about starting socialization early:
“Even the Board of Veterinary Behaviorists is a proponent of that [starting puppy class prior to the completion of vaccines]. Many more dogs, unfortunately, end up being euthanized for behavior problems than they do for getting sick in a puppy class. And it's so important for the dog to learn to play with other puppies appropriately. That's where they really learn bite inhibition, is from other puppies. To be passed from person to person. To learn that people are fun. To be exposed to everything in the environment that might later be a stressor to them. So that they learn that things are safe. And they become more behaviorally healthy. It's very, very critical.”
#4 How to Stop Your Puppy From Chewing up the House
When you get a new puppy, everyone always wonders, "Where am I going to keep the puppy when I'm at home and I'm busy, or when I go out?", and really there's a couple different ways. Most important is that the puppy is confined to a space. It doesn't have free run of the house because if it does it's going to soil the house in different places and that's positive reinforcement for what we don't want them to do.
Crate training is great with certain dogs and if done properly. There's quite a bit of education on crate training. The other form is confinement in a pen, both of them work really well.
Remember that when you're gone, your puppy is either sleeping or playing quietly confined in a crate or an ex pen-- or they are out chewing and soiling in the house. So make sure you keep them confined.
#5 How to Stop Your Puppy From Jumping on People
When it comes to how your puppy greets you, or visitors entering your home it’s important to remember that they won’t always be a small pup forever. Having a tiny, fluffy golden retriever may be cute until they turn into a 80 pound adult.
Why do puppies jump?
Puppies, or, for that matter, adult dogs jump up on people because they want attention. When they're puppies and they're cute and adorable, you automatically want to give them that attention, as does everyone else who meets them. Unfortunately, this is reinforcing the jumping up.
What to do When Your Puppy Jumps
To help the dog learn to not jump you must make them sit nicely for attention instead. The best strategy is to ignore the dog when he or she is jumping up, even if that means turning your back to the dog. As soon as the dog is seated, that is when you give them attention. And they will learn very quickly that sitting is what gets them attention, rather than jumping up.
Consistency is really important, so that means not just you and your family members, but everybody that the dog meets needs to not give the dog attention if they jump up. And people are a lot more difficult to control than your puppy.
Don’t wait to get your puppy started on training basics! We often see issues when dogs get a little bit older, and by then these kind of naughty behaviors have been reinforced or not addressed, and they're just that much harder to get under control.