I’ve had dogs all my life but hadn’t had a brand new puppy in 15 years. So bringing home my new mini-goldendoodle puppy felt a bit like a first-time experience. I worried and prepared like a new mother. I had arranged my life so I could devote myself completely to his first couple of months building the foundation for many years of a happy, devoted, and lovable adult dog. This is why I’ve always had puppies…because with forethought, time, and patience you can truly create your perfect dog. Of course, it helps to pick the perfect puppy to begin with…thank you Bill and Gayle…but it’s up to you to create success for your little guy.
I thought a few tips might be helpful for the other new puppy parents. This is a little presumptuous on my part, but I certainly checked out the internet when I was breed-searching, breeder-searching, and looking for puppy care tips and was glad for the advice.
First and foremost, I always…always…praise good behavior. Anytime our little guy (we named him Pocket) demonstrates good behavior, we gregariously praise him and say back the behavior. For example, when I want him to go out to relieve himself, I say “let’s go outside, Pocket”. He trots out the door where his dog run is and the second his paws hit outside, I excitedly say “GOOD OUTSIDE”, “good outside, Pocket”. When he starts to squat and go I say it again. The second he finishes, I give him a tiny chip of a treat…just a taste…and say it again. By his second day at home, he was rushing to go outside when I said it, and turned around to look at me when he started going. He is now 12 weeks old and is 95% housebroken. The only time he ever has an accident is if I haven’t been paying attention. He goes for days without an accident. He never goes in his crate at night and can hold it for 8 hours at night (every hour or so during the day is about it). I have never had such a smart dog!
Second, it’s a good idea to start teaching a few commands sooner rather than later. The puppies really shouldn’t be taken out and put on the ground until they’ve had all their shots, so you have some time and opportunity to teach him how to behave in those early weeks – or break beginning bad habits like jumping up, nipping fingers, those kinds of things. Pick the words you want to use to get him or her to do something or not do something and when he demonstrates the willingness to do that, praise him unabashedly and give him a tiny bit of a treat. It’s good to keep little bits of treats in a pocket so that you can immediately show him when he does something you like. Pocket already has a vocabulary and has mastered 10 commands. Did I mention that he’s smart?
Third, the nipping and biting routine is normal as they are transitioning from baby teeth to adult teeth. Keep toys around and when it starts, calmly but not particularly cheerfully say “no biting” and put a toy in his mouth and say very cheerfully “good no biting”. You can also say “ouch” in a bit of a high raised voice and turn away, ignoring him for a minute. That teaches him that the playful nip was too hard and moderates it. It’s worked with Pocket. He’ll now just take my hand in his mouth gently and look at me.
Fourth, giving your puppy the run of the house is not a good idea…for the puppy or for you. Create a barrier between rooms so he is confined to a single room or couple of rooms. Spread his blanket or towel down where you want him to be and keep his toys on it so he knows that’s where he belongs. I sit next to it and toss toys or play tug-of-war with him and talk to him and do his training. We also have a small pen right next to his blanket that we put him in when he’s about to nap so I can get some things done without having to keep checking to see if he’s up. It also helps with the housebreaking. They don’t like to go where they sleep.
During this period (before all their shots) you can take him out to get used to noises, smells, and people coming up to him and fussing over him – but as I mentioned before, it’s best not put him on the ground.
The most important thing to remember is that they love you unconditionally and will do anything that will please you. If you nurture the good behavior repeatedly, they will respond in amazing ways and become your perfect dog. Cuddle them and coo to them, rub their soft round bellies, and massage their little backs and heads. It’s magic.