|What To Expect From A Young Puppy
They’re cute! They have sharp teeth and claws! They get into
everything! They have to go potty every few hours! They grow out of
this stage too quickly!
We’ve tried to give
them a good start on life including some early neurological
stimulation based on the US Military Super Dog program and studies by
Dr Carmen Battaglia. They have played with lots of varied toys, been
introduced to birds, water (if it’s warm enough) a tiny
teeter-totter, a tunnel, plus all sorts of people, noises, sights,
sounds, and smells. Now it’s your job to bond with your puppy and
introduce him to more of the world.
For the first few
days, you can expect some whining and crying. He’s just gone through
a major change in his life, so make him feel secure and welcome. Give
him lots of love, toys, comfort, attention and a place that he can
call his own (a crate is ideal). Set up a routine so he knows what to
expect. You may want to have him sleep in his crate next to your bed
so you can give him comfort when he wakes up all alone or take him
outside if he needs to potty. Crying usually only lasts a few nights.
Although some people think putting a dog in a crate must be cruel, it
isn't. To a dog, a crate is nothing more than a den. In the wild, a dog
would seek out a small hole to crawl into for shelter, to have puppies,
and as a place to relax. A crate serves the same purpose.
A properly-sized crate can make housetraining (and other training) much
easier. A crate can also
prevent destructive chewing, protect your puppy from potentially
dangerous household chemicals, help with separation anxiety, and
provide a safe way to transport him.
If you introduce your puppy to a crate when you bring him home,
he will continue to seek it out even as an adult. A crate offers
security and a place for your puppy to call his own.
A young Lab puppy
will fit in a small crate, but quickly outgrow it. However a large
crate will offer so much room that he may decide to potty in one end
and sleep in the other end (not what you want when you’re trying to
housebreak him). A medium crate will probably fit for long enough to
finish housebreaking, but he will outgrow it by the time he is 4 to 5
months old. If you plan for him to sleep in his crate, even as an
adult, you may want to get a large crate and block off a portion of
To get started, your
puppy will need to associate his crate with comfort and security. Put
some toys and his bowl in the crate and even toss a few small treats
in it whenever you pass by. When he seems comfortable with the crate
and is getting a little sleepy, put him inside and close the door. Our
puppies have already seen and climbed in and on a crate with their littermates, so this shouldn’t take long. Let him sleep for an hour
or so, then wake him up and take him immediately outside to the area
where you want him to potty. Praise him lavishly when he does.
If he makes a mistake
in the house, it’s better not to scold him because he
does not understand yet that the problem is WHERE he is going potty, he
just has to go. It’s better to rush him outside and praise
him for going potty there.
Once he’s emptied
out you can bring him inside and play for a little while without
worry. When you can’t supervise him, he should be confined to a
puppy-proof area (with an easily cleanable floor) or inside his crate.
Another idea is to tether him to you with a short leash.
Be sure that any children in your household know that the puppy is
off limits when he is in his crate. This is where he can go to spend
some quiet time alone. You will soon find your puppy seeks out his
crate on his own.
When you do have to leave your puppy in his crate
be sure to leave a few puppy-safe toys with him. We like Nylabones and
Kongs. Also, don't leave your puppy confined to a crate for long
periods of time and don't use it as a way to punish your puppy when he
does something wrong.
Manners / Obedience
Housebreaking and “No” are the earliest training concepts for your
puppy to learn. Once he is settled in, you can start teaching him his
name, to come, to sit, and baby retrieves.
Puppies will learn to
come very quickly if you carry a few small treats with you, get down
low, call him, and reward him for coming. This way he learns that
it’s fun to come to you. Sit can also be quickly taught with food by
holding a treat slightly behind his eyes and moving it toward his tail
as you say “sit.” As his nose goes up to follow the treat, his
rear will go down. Give him lots of praise and the treat as soon as he
You can start
teaching him to retrieve by getting on the floor with him while he
plays with a toy. He needs to learn that you won’t steal his toy
like his littermates have done. Next roll up an old sock
military-style until it looks like a sausage. Find a hallway, or
narrow room, and close the doors so he has no where to run, but back
to you. Make sure he is excited and really wants the sock before you
toss it. Keep it short – 5 to 6 feet. Coax him to come back to you
and give him lots of praise.
Let him keep the sock as you praise. Repeat only 3 or 4 times so he
always wants to retrieve more than you let him.
You also need to get
your puppy out into the world. Take him to shopping malls, into pet
stores (carried if he only has his first vaccinations), to open
fields, to any place you can think of where he can see things and meet
people. Provide plenty of comfort and security if he seems scared or
overwhelmed. You can also attend a Puppy Kindergarten class.
Most important of all is to be consistent in
everything you do with your puppy. Also be sure to enjoy this time
with your new family member.