A crate isn’t big enough to keep your puppy in for long periods of time (except for night), but it’s fine for short periods and can be useful for house training.
First Days with A New Puppy
Travelling in a Car
It's an exciting time when you go to collect your new puppy and most of us need to bring her home in a car. Travelling in a car is a very strange sensation, and added to the stress of leaving her siblings and mother and being taken away by strangers, it's not at all uncommon for puppies to suffer from travel sickness. Always be prepared when you go to collect your puppy.
Once you get home start as you mean to go on, and take her straight into the garden - if she relieves herself give her lots of praise. She'll probably sniff around her new surroundings, but don't be surprised if she sleeps a lot on the first day as she's had an exciting adventure. Try to leave her be and let her settle.
The first days with your new puppy is a time of immense change for both of you. For her it’s a completely new, and sometimes frightening, environment. For you it will be a complete culture shock, even though you may have had puppies before and thought you were ready for it! Just like a child, when the puppy’s awake you’ll have to have your full attention on what it’s doing. For that reason it’s good to have a crate or part of the house (a utility room or kitchen) where if she has to be left alone she won’t be able to cause (too much) damage. If you are completely house proud a dog is not for you!
House training should start as soon as you get the puppy home. Puppies need to ‘go’ very often - almost immediately on waking, after a period of activity and about 20 minutes after a meal. Anticipate your puppy and take it to the place you want it to use and say the words you want it to associate with being good - be busy, do your business or any such words will do. When she performs give her loads and loads of praise and possibly a treat. She will quickly understand that this is what she is meant to do when you take her outside to the garden. If you haven't got easy access to an enclosed garden I advise using puppy pads - unlike traditional newspaper these have a waterproof backing and are ideal for ‘accidents’ in the house, even on carpeted areas. It is better not to use puppy pads and to work to prevent accidents in the house.
You need to be patient and consistent with house training. Some dogs 'get it' very quickly, others take a lot longer. Once learned they rarely slip back unless they are left on their own too long.
The trick is to realise that it's up to you to anticipate when she needs to go outside - she cannot tell you, and does not have sufficient bladder or bowel control to be able to wait for you to remember. If you catch her squatting in the house quickly pick her up and take her in the garden to finish, and then praise her so she knows she's pleased you. If you don't catch her in the act don't tell her off - she will have absolutely no idea what she has done wrong, and will just become nervous of you suddenly losing your temper for no reason that she can see.
You may want to consider getting a crate for your new puppy - crates today are fairly inexpensive to buy, light weight and easy to put up/take down and are useful for keeping a pup confined and safe. A puppy left alone in a room will give everything chewable a go. They can't help it, they need to chew so their adult teeth can come through. Unless you have a completely safe room with no wires or plugs, or anything of value to you (don't leave mobile phones or remote controls within reach - these seem to be favourites) then a crate might be your answer.
A crate is not a prison cell to a dog - it's their den, where they can feel safe. Dogs crate trained as puppies often like to use their crate voluntarily when older.
If your breeder hasn't used a crate you may find you need to introduce it gradully, so your puppy becomes used to it as a good place to go. You can do this by feeding her in the crate, and putting treats in to encourage her to explore it.
Dogs do not like to soil their dens, and therefore the puppy will have a built in instinct not to soil the area where she sleeps. Put your puppy in the crate whilst your around in the house, and after about an hour, let her out and take her outside in the garden. Reward her for doing the right thing. Now you know her bowels and bladder are empty you can have a period of play and/or training, and then put her back in the crate again. Each time you let her out you should immediately take her outside. This will give her no opportunity to mess in the house.
If you need to go out you can leave her in the crate so that she will be safe, but do not crate your puppy for hours at a time. If you work then you'll need to allow her more space to play in whilst you are gone. A utility room or kitchen is usually the best place, but make sure there are puppy pads in convenient places for her to use.
Your puppy will be missing the company of its siblings and mum. Some people prefer to have the puppy in their bedroom at first, until it is happy to be left alone. If you are leaving her away from the family leave a radio on a talk programme for company. A ticking clock is also good to use (resembling heart beats). Make sure she is in a warm place.
You should be prepared for some broken nights sleep. House training will be much easier if you set your alarm to wake you up after about 4 hours to take your pup outside to relieve itself.
If your puppy is not sleeping with you then you will probably have to harden your heart to the whining as she gets used to being alone. It will stop, and she will learn.
Introducing a puppy to other pets
If you have other pets in your home, introduce them in a controlled way as soon as you can. She should be taught to ignore caged birds, hamsters etc. Some dogs have a high prey instinct and cannot be trusted around small furries - lurchers, greyhounds and huskys, for example, although there are always exceptions, and careful introductions when the puppy is young can help.
Dogs and cats can get along in the same household very well, and cats can normally put an inquisitive pup very firmly in its place. A strike across the nose with sharp claws does wonders to show her who’s boss! If you have a crate, use it when they first meet. The cat will not feel trapped. If the pup won’t learn its lesson to leave a cat alone, use a stair gate on the stairs, or to keep the dog in one room so the cat can have a safe environment to escape to and relax in. They usually sort out their position in the household quite quickly.
Introducing a puppy to another dog
If you are getting a puppy because you would like to be a two dog household then it's best to wait until your first dog is around 2 years old. At this age he will be mature and trained, and his teenage disobedient phase should be over. The last thing you want is a young puppy nipping and biting whilst having to deal with a teenager. At two, your existing dog will still be playful and should enjoy having a new puppy around.
The picture on the right shows a two year old Great Dane with a Cocker Spaniel puppy - these were my dogs and I used a crate for the puppy so the bigger dog would step on him. They got on extremely well from day one, enjoyed each other's company, and played well together.
Another common reason for getting a puppy is when your current dog is getting older, and you don't like the idea of a house without a dog. In these circumstances the older dog may resent a young pup who's bounding with energy. Make sure the older one can get some peace, and make sure there's somewhere to go where he can be undisturbed. Either crate the puppy, or use stair gates. Don't be surprised if the older dog doesn't want anything to do with the puppy for some time - maybe even months. Remember he'll be settled in his ways, and may resent the intruder. Make sure you continue his routine and give him sufficient attention.
Sometimes it's better for the new puppy to be the opposite sex to the existing dog, but for an easy life at least one of the other will need to be neutered.
When it all goes wrong....
Puppies are hard work!! When you get over the puppy biting, teething and house training your pup will turn into a teenager. Training will fly out the window, she'll find far more interesting things to do on walks than come back to you, and you'll be pulling your hair out and wondering what on earth has gone wrong!
This is the time when many young dogs get put into rescues as the owners cannot cope with the unruly behaviour. But like a human teenager they do grow out of it, and turn into the well behaved socialable dog you always wanted (depending on the training you've put in of course, dog's don't train themselves!).
Grit your teeth during the teenage period. Go back to basics with training, and persevere. Don't give up on your puppy - you bought her for life.
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