New Puppy? Here’s Some Firsthand Advice
So you got a new puppy? Me too!! And what a whirlwind it is! Puppies are adorable and delightful, bold and determined, chewing, whining, peeing and pooping furballs. Their energy is boundless, and their attention span is two to five seconds. My adorable new addition, Swayze (registered name Moonshadows Dirty Dancing), is doing great! Swayze is adjusting to the Endo household routine, and Smudge is being the dutiful and tolerant big brother. Swayze reminds me just how challenging a new puppy can be. As with a toddler, they must be constantly supervised. When exploring, everything goes into Swayze’s mouth. Then there is the housebreaking. I am thrilled that Swayze has been the best puppy I have had to date with his potty habits. He will use his pee pad when I am at work and will go outside whenever I take him out with Smudge. And Smudge is happy to demonstrate the reason that they are out in the yard! Any accident that Swayze has is my fault, either when I do not get him out on schedule or when I bring him inside too fast. Make accommodations I had planned to take a full week off work when Swayze arrived. Then I had my unexpected hospitalization beforehand. As a result, I opted to take two full days off and worked half days the remainder of the week. Since I brought Swayze home on a Saturday, this gave me three and a half days to get him settled and feeling safe and comfortable with me at home. My working half days eased Swayze into the schedule of me leaving for a period of time, so this routine actually worked out well in getting Swayze settled and secure in his new environment. Introductory lessons The initial things that I wanted to teach Swayze was first: that he could trust me as his guardian and that I would care for him and protect him. This, of course, is a process that must slowly evolve. We were, after all, total strangers to each other. I wanted Swayze to be comfortable and happy in his ex pen, an integral tool for me to control a puppy when you are otherwise preoccupied (i.e. sleeping). My resident dog, Smudge, has proven to be a wonderful big brother, just as I anticipated he would be. But at nine years old, Smudge needs quiet time from his baby brother. Puppies can be relentless and very annoying! And even a sweet boy like Smudge does have his limits. So I carefully supervise their interaction and end play sessions when things escalate and Smudge is becoming more aggravated than playful. Such as when baby brother Swayze repeatedly rips toys out of his mouth and claims possession, or bites his ears. Chewing machines When I say everything goes into the puppy’s mouth, I do mean everything! Although there are many available toys strewn all over the house, an electrical cord will quickly become an attractive chew toy. There is one box in particular, and Swayze insists he wants to chew on the corners. I refuse to move it because we are having a battle of wills, so to speak. Swayze will charge in and begin chomping on the box, I will physically remove him, he will charge in and resume gnawing, I will remove him, and then Swayze will tear in and rear up at me, mouth wide open like an attacking little shark! And I have to laugh at the fire and determination in this young body and mind, even though he is being bold and defiant. And this, believe it or not, is what I love about terriers. Their fire!! A safe ‘den’ Just as I use an ex pen, you must decide on how to keep your puppy confined in a smaller area. This is not only necessary for their safety, but it will also greatly aid in their housebreaking. Giving puppies too large of an area only confuses them and results in them voiding all over the house, when they can easily leave the mess behind them and merrily carry on elsewhere! Dogs, puppies included, genetically want to keep their “den” clean and will avoid soiling in the area where they sleep. As I mentioned previously, have plenty of toys available for your puppy to chew on and play with. Make sure they are puppy safe, meaning more durable. Avoid vinyl toys, which puppies can easily tear and ingest. A stuffed kong is a great toy to keep your puppy preoccupied for a longer period of time. Stuff it with their canned puppy food and freeze overnight. This will relieve and soothe the pain in their gums while they are teething. Reporting for class And then there is training your puppy. Puppies are little blank slates. They are ready, willing, and able to learn good habits. And let us not forget they can learn bad habits as well if not directed to do otherwise. Basic things such as learning to control their impulses. At times, I will hold Swayze, and he wants down. He will wiggle and squirm with all his might, and even get a bit testy. I will NEVER put him down when he is behaving in this manner. When Swayze resigns himself to the fact that he cannot escape and he totally relaxes, it is then that I will praise and release him. When I introduced Swayze to his ex pen, he did not take it in stride. Swayze did not whine, cry, or bark. Swayze screamed!! And screamed!!!! I was nearby where he could see me, but I did not respond to his noisy demands. It was only when he was quiet that I would praise him, and only when he was quiet that he would come out of the confinement of his ex pen to play with Smudge. Swayze had to learn that his loud screaming did not get him what he wanted, but being quiet did. Same with being held. Squirming and biting would not get him released, but quiet acceptance would always work and get him lots of praise and even a treat! Test everyone’s limits Puppies will always push your buttons and try everything to see what works. If it works for them, they will do it again and again. So you want to reinforce and reward those behaviors that you desire, while you ignore those that you do not want and are unacceptable. You will be teaching the pup good manners, respect, and patience. I have been working on Swayze’s leash walking, which has been progressing very well. He is learning to respectfully walk behind me or at my side and to stay out from underfoot. Swayze is learning to be relaxed and trusting when we are outside on our walks in the cul-de-sac, an excellent place to leash train since there is minimal traffic. I have also been working on teaching Swayze to sit, which he will typically offer when I have a tasty treat in my hand. But since his attention span is so short, he is often focused on a hundred other things. Attention is something that is a work in progress, and this is totally normal for a 14 week old puppy. Any puppy questions or suggestions, please email me. We can help each other! Dog bless. Judy Endo writes about pets. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your puppy and lavish much love and attention on him. The more positive reinforcement your puppy receives, the more creative and confident he will become. Be firm and consistent and reap the rewards! Car sick Car traveling has been tough going. Swayze gets VERY car sick. I have read many articles on the subject and am doing everything that is recommended. It is my hope that in the near future Swayze will outgrow this problem, especially before we begin training classes! In the meantime I take Swayze for short trips in the car where we then take a walk and return home. This is done before he is fed a meal, and about 45 minutes before the car ride I give Swayze a small treat of ginger/pumpkin to soothe his tummy. There is typically significant drooling, but this keeps vomiting to a minimum or eliminates it altogether.