PREPARING FOR YOUR PUPPY
The first few nights after you bring your puppy home can be a little hectic if you've never had a puppy before. Here's a few tips to make the transition go smoothly.
Remember that your puppy is still a baby. He is used to sleeping with his litter mates and will understandably be a little out of his or her element the first few nights.
Prepare his or her crate by placing a rug or pad of some sort in it. Then place a layer of puppy pads on top of the rug to protect it, followed by a towel or two on top of the pads. In the morning, if necessary, replace the towel and pads. In a few days, you will be surprised to see that there have not been any accidents overnight. If you are using a wire crate, place a quilt or blanket over the top, back and sides of the crate to make the puppy feel more secure.
IMPORTANT: Place the crate within 3 or 4 feet of your bedside so the puppy can see and hear you. Place a large stuffed animal or a rolled up towel in the crate with the puppy so he has something to lay by that may resemble another puppy. Also put a few chew toys in to occupy the puppy when it is not time to get up yet!
THE FIRST NIGHT
Take your puppy out right before you go to sleep for the night. Place the puppy in the crate, and turn off the lights, and your puppy should lay down and go to sleep. If your puppy cries, it is ok to talk to them, but avoid the temptation of taking them out of the crate.
While there are mixed views on this, my personal advice is *NOT* to take the puppy out during the night. Normally, a puppy will sleep through the night until about 6 am by the second or third night. Then, they will wake up and cry or make a louder noise than just moving around. At this point, immediately take them outside to potty. As soon as that's accomplished, take them right back to their crate and put them back in - they will normally lay back down and sleep for another 2 hours or so.
SELECT A VETERINARIAN
Before your puppy comes home, it is important to select a Veterinarian that you feel comfortable with. It is a good idea to call them and ask about their puppy services before making an appointment. Your puppy will have had its first set of shots, however it is very important to know that your puppy will not be immune to Parvo and other potentially fatal diseases until three sets of shots are completed. Follow your Vet's guidelines and instructions carefully. We recommend that you do not take your puppy to any public places where other animals who may not be immunized have been until your puppy has completed all shots.
SOCIALIZE YOUR PUPPY
Your puppy will have been well socialized with people, children and other animals. However, it is important to keep that socialization going. Invite friends and relatives over to see your puppy, and take them to other homes, if possible. Your puppy should not shy away from new situations. Make sure that you introduce new experiences to your puppy in a safe manner to give your puppy confidence. After all shots have been received, I recommend you take your puppy to puppy classes. PetCo has a wonderful positive training approach, and has puppy classes available. These classes will both help to socialize your puppy and train them at the same time!
NIPPING, BITING AND CHEWING
It is important that you do not allow your puppy to nip or bite you or your children. Puppies are used to playing with their littermates, and need to understand that it is not acceptable to play with people like they play with them. It is a very simple matter to correct this behavior within the first few days. If your puppy starts to bite you, even in a playful way, immediately pull your hand away, and yell in a high-pitched voice "OUCH"! Your puppy will immediately stop - just as they do when their littermates yelp. It tells them that you are being hurt, and they need to stop. Give them a toy that they are allowed to chew on and say "chew on this". If they persist in trying to bite you, give them the toy, and walk away. It is important for them to learn that in order to interact with you, there are rules that need to be followed. If your puppy begins to chew on something other than their toys, (furniture, rugs, etc.,) immediately give them a chew toy and say "chew on this". If you follow this bit of advice you will never have a puppy that chews on things they aren't supposed to, including you!
POTTY TRAINING TIPS
Take your puppy out to potty frequently. The key is to be patient and consistent, and this won't take long! Consistent Potty Training should take less than 2 weeks.
Take them out every hour or so during the first few days. Take them out by carrying them to the spot you want them to potty. Make sure you take them to a consistent spot so they know why they are out there. Put them down and say "outside" or "potty" or whatever word you are using.
If you are going to use a bell (we recommend Poochie Bells), hang the bell by the door and ring it each time you take the puppy out.
As soon as they potty outside, lavish praise on them with as much enthusiasm as you can muster. In addition to their name, use the word that you are going to use for going potty - outside, potty, etc., For example, "Good girl - Gracie! Outside!" You are naming the behavior "outside" and this will come in handy as they grow older and can begin to hold it.
After a few days, you will start to see them "circle" when they are thinking about going. Immediately whisk them up, say "Outside!" and take them out to do their business. Even if they have already started, or even finished - you should still take them outside and put them down for a few minutes. It is important for them to know that any time they potty, it should have something to do with being outside!
Remember when they eat, it is within a 5-15 minute time frame that they have to use the potty.
WHICH FOOD SHOULD I FEED MY PUPPY
With so many different foods on the market, it can be confusing and even overwhelming to know what food is best for your dog. Grain Free foods seem to be all the rage, but are they really the best for your dog? Should you go organic, raw, or dehydrated? Dry or moist? The choices seem limitless.
I've asked several different veterinarians in my area, looked at countless websites, and done research on my own, and no one seems to have a definitive answer. One thing most experts seem to agree on is that the food and treats you choose should be manufactured inside the United States. Ingredients sourced in the United States is a step up from that, and will usually add to the price. I always look for the MADE IN USA label on my treats.
My go-to source for food expertise is www.dogfoodadvisor.com. The Dog Food Advisor is a website created by Dr. Mike Sagman and is designed to help consumers make more informed decisions when buying dog food. Mike is a graduate of the Medical College of Virginia and has a passion for canine nutrition. Dr. Sagman's team includes two dedicated research assistants and a veterinarian. Since 2008, the Dog Food Advisor has reviewed and rated more than 4,500 dog food products and provides a ranking for each food that is widely thought to be fair and unbiased, even among pet food manufacturers. Visit the site to learn how your food stacks up and decide for yourself which food might be best for your dog.
I recommend a 4-star food that your dog likes and that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg. Some good choices are Whole Earth Farms, Nutro Max, and Fromm's Gold.
Once you've figured out the food that is right for your dog, head on over to www.chewy.com. They deliver your food directly to your door, usually with free shipping and a nice healthy discount. They sell most name brands and it's also a great place to buy toys and treats. I highly recommend them.
You will need to prepare for your new puppy before it comes home, especially if this is your first pet. A good basic list of items to have on hand includes:
- Adjustable Collar - they grow FAST and a small adjustable collar will expand with them for several months. For Standard size Doodles, the collar should be about 10" at its smallest and expand to about 15" - this will take them through about 6 or 7 months.
- Name Tag - Petco and Petsmart among others, have machines where you can engrave your pet's name and more importantly your contact information on a name tag. This is an inexpensive item that will give you peace of mind and keep your puppy safe.
- 6 Foot Leash
- Food and Water bowls - I recommend metal dishes. They can chew the plastic ones and the glass ones can get broken during an unexpected rough play.
- Food Storage Bin - you will find that you're buying large 25 pound bags of food - a good plastic storage bin with an air-tight lid will keep the food fresh and convenient.
- Good Quality Puppy Food - see our dog food selection section below for helpful tips.
- Crate - for a standard Doodle, a size large crate will be sufficient for the lifetime of your dog.
- 4-5 Inexpensive Bath Towels (put these in their crate, and just throw them in the laundry when they get soiled)
- Puppy Pads - I like to put a puppy pad under a towel in the crate. This keeps whatever padding you've used in your crate dry and all you need to do is wash a towel or two. I use a bath mat when they are a puppy as a pad.
- Several Types of Toys - recommend stuffed animal, ball, squeak toy, and rope toy. Your puppy needs stimulation and is used to playing with their littermates. Toys will help. I always buy a large stuffed animal for them to sleep with - I think it may seem like a littermate - while I don't know if that's true, I always find my new puppy snuggled up against it in the morning.
- Slicker Brush
- Chew Treats - Always have on hand something for your puppy to chew on, such as bully sticks, Busy Heartyhide, Merrick Bones. If and when your puppy chews on something they shouldn't, immediately exchange the item for one of these and tell them "NO - Chew on this instead!".
- Training Treats - I recommend Zuke's Mini Naturals