Sunday, March 20, 2011
2:35 pm edt
First Week at Home (8-9 weeks)
your pup the moment he comes home. It is important, and surprisingly easy, to train your puppy without him making a single
toilet or chewing mistake. Each mistake will make training considerably more difficult. Puppies quickly establish toilet habits
and even a single mistake heralds many more in the future. Also, punishing puppies for soiling the house or making chewing
mistakes inadvertently teaches them to soil the house or chew on shoes while their owners are away (and therefore, cannot
punish). Remember, good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits and so, housetrain your puppy from the outset.
Confinement is the secret to errorless
housetraining — using a doggy den and a puppy playroom) to make sure your unsupervised puppy will not make any mistakes.
The whole point of confining puppies while they are young is so that they will be able to have as much freedom as possible
when they are older. Alternatively, if you let your new puppy roam free and form bad house-habits, you will no doubt confine
him as an adult. Also, of course, make sure you teach your puppy to love his den and playroom.
With the proper use of a doggy den it is very easy to predict when your puppy will need to use the toilet. This means
you can take your puppy to your chosen toilet location and know they will promptly pee or poop so that you may reward them
extravagantly and play with them indoors, knowing they won’t have an accident. Additionally, you are in complete control
of what objects they have access to in their confinement areas, so they may learn to chew only appropriate items. Hollow chewtoys
stuffed with food will teach them what is appropriate to chew, and reward them for quietly enjoying some appropriate recreational
Regular, early confinement
will help your puppy learn to enjoy spending time at home alone.
You need to ensure that an errorless housetraining
and chewtoy-training program is instituted the very first day your puppy comes home. During the first week, puppies characteristically
learn good or bad habits that set the precedent for weeks, months, and sometimes years to come. Never forget, good habits
are just as hard to break as bad habits!
First Day Your Puppy Comes Home
Your canine newcomer is just itching
to learn household manners. She wants to please, but she has to learn how. Before the young pup can be trusted to have full
run of the house, somebody must teach the house rules. There's no point keeping house rules a secret. Somebody has to tell
the pup. And that somebody is you. Otherwise, your puppy will let her imagination run wild in her quest for occupational therapy
to pass the time of day. Without a firm grounding in canine domestic etiquette, your puppy will be left to improvise in her
choice of toys and toilets. The pup will no doubt eliminate in closets and on carpets, and your couches and curtains will
be viewed as mere playthings for destruction. Each mistake is a potential disaster, since it heralds many more to come. If
your pup is allowed to make "mistakes," bad habits will quickly become the status quo, making it necessary to break
bad habits before teaching good ones.
Begin by teaching your puppy good habits from the very first
day she comes home. Your puppy's living quarters need to be designed so that housetraining and chewtoy-training are errorless.
absolutely certain that you fully understand the principles of long-term and short-term confinement before you bring your
new puppy home. With a long-term and short-term confinement schedule, housetraining and chewtoy-training are easy, efficient,
and errorless. During her first few weeks at home, regular confinement (with chewtoys stuffed with kibble) teaches the puppy
to teach herself to chew chewtoys, to settle down calmly and quietly, and not to become a recreational barker. Moreover, short-term
confinement allows you to predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself, so that you may take her to the right spot and
reward her for eliminating.
From the moment you choose your puppy, there is some considerable urgency regarding
socialization and training. There is no time to waste. Basically, an adult dog's temperament and behavior habits (both good
and bad) are shaped during puppyhood — very early puppyhood. It is easy to make horrendous mistakes during your puppy’s
first few weeks at home. Such mistakes usually have an indelible effect, influencing your pup's behavior and temperament for
the rest of his life. This is not to say that unsocialized and untrained eight-week-old pups cannot be rehabilitated. They
can, if you work quickly. But while it’s easy to prevent behavior and temperament problems, rehabilitation can be both
difficult and time-consuming, and it is unlikely that your pup will ever become the adult dog he or she could have been.
If your pup is ever left unsupervised
indoors he will most certainly chew household articles and soil your house. Although these teeny accidents do little damage
in themselves, they set the precedent for your puppy's choice of toys and toilets for many months to come.
housesoiling or chewing mistake you allow your puppy to make is absolute silliness and absolute seriousness: silliness because
you are creating lots of future headaches for yourself, and seriousness because millions of dogs are euthanized each year
simply because their owners did not know how to housetrain or chewtoy-train them.
You should treat any puppy housesoiling
or house-destruction mistake as a potential disaster, since it predicts numerous future mistakes from a dog with larger bladder
and bowels and much more destructive jaws. Many owners begin to notice their puppy's destructiveness by the time he is four
to five months old, when the pup is characteristically relegated outdoors. Destruction is the product of a puppy's boredom,
lack of supervision, and a search for entertainment. Natural inquisitiveness prompts the lonely pup to dig, bark, and escape
in his quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the day in solitary confinement. Once the neighbors complain about
the dog's incessant barking and periodic escapes, the dog is often further confined to a garage or basement. Usually though,
this is only a temporary measure until the dog is surrendered to a local animal shelter to play the lotto of life. Fewer than
25 percent of surrendered dogs are adopted, of which about half are returned as soon as the new owners discover their adopted
adolescent's annoying problems.
The above summarizes the fate of many dogs. Without a doubt, simple and predictable
behavior problems are the number one terminal illness for domestic dogs. This is especially sad because all these simple problems
could be prevented so easily. Housetraining and chewtoy-training are hardly rocket science. But you do need to know what to
do. And you need to know what to do before you bring your puppy home. Make certain that your puppy does not develop life-threatening
If you already have a puppy and feel that you are behind, do not throw in the
towel. You must acknowledge, however, that you are behind and that your puppy's socialization and education are now a dire
emergency. Immediately do your best to catch up. Immediately, seek help from a pet dog trainer.
take a week or two off of work to devote to your puppy. The younger your puppy, the easier and quicker it is to catch up on
her developmental timetable and minimize losses. Every day you delay, however, makes it harder.
from “BEFORE You Get Your Puppy” by Dr. Ian Dunbar