I got a new puppy! Now what?

There are few things as exciting as bring that new puppy home for the first time.

Puppy kisses, wiggly, squishy puppies. They're the best!

They also take work, patience, time, effort and a lot of structure.

Your life is going to revolve around a schedule broken into one hour and two hour segments from am to pm. If you dont have a life that lends itself to that kind of attention, then don’t get a puppy. Harsh, I know. But real. Sure, there’s ways of jury rigging potty training and feeding so we can earn a living, that’s not what I’m talking about. Having the awareness that you need to figure out how to accommodate a puppy’s needs is half the battle. There are a million creative solutions. But that those time based needs, need to be met, is non-negotiable.

What I have found is that sure you can just have the dog outside or take them outside, but the clarity they get from having a crate and having space divided into my space, their space (you, the owners), and outside space just really cements it faster and more reliably when it comes to protecting your indoor flooring. So, get a crate... Plus, as you will see below, your crate is your best friend, your babysitter, your sanity, and your puppy’s sanity. If finances are an issue, I get one crate, big enough to accommodate the adult dog so that when he stands, there is room above his head, and when he lies down, he can stretch out all the way from nose to tail, and from back to feet. You can always make the crate smaller inside with a bed or dividers that you take out as the puppy grows, and many crates come with a divider when you buy them.

Easy peasy. Think one hour out, two hours in, from when your puppy comes home at 8 - 12 weeks old (if your puppy is potentially younger than that when it is going to be released to you, you need a different source of puppy....toooo young) till about 6 months of age. Your puppy needs alternating bouts of potty, play, interaction and rest, JUST LIKE PRESCHOOL. TOO MUCH TIME OUT RUNNING AROUND JUST LEADS TO CHAOS. I can always tell puppies that haven’t been put on a play, rest schedule. They are the ones who are boinging off the ceiling, leaping around, dashing hither and yon. I call them the Happy Hooligans. It’s not that it’s such a bad thing, and indeed, we want a pup to be a pup and be a Happy Hooligan but not all the time.

When you have something else to do, like go put a load of clothes in the washing machine, cook something on the stove or go to the bathroom, either take the puppy with you, or PUT THEM AWAY. Remember, 100% eyes on puppies. If you can’t see them, Murphy’s Law states unequivocally that they will get into trouble. At dinnertime, PUT THEM AWAY.

It is a mistake to think they need to be with us 100% of the time as a puppy. It is exactly the opposite. They need to learn that life is safe and good when they’re in their crate napping. A puppy who is raised 100% of the time with their owner is a puppy who: has a marked tendency towards separation anxiety, can’t entertain themselves, can’t play well either by themselves or with other puppies, doesn’t settle well, can’t chill out in new circumstances, and ironically in dozens of ways is less developmentally advanced then their brethren with crate naps.

Second critical inside detail: DRAG LINE. Buy the cheapest 6' nylon cat leash you can find....just a thin nylon leash, or make your own from a 6' length of clothesline, or 3/8" parachute cord to which you attach a clip. Tie a few knots in either the leash or the line. (I use one for outside as they can/will pee on it (and wash periodically), and one for inside, where hopefully they won’t!) When your pup is out of the crate, clip a drag line on the collar. That way, you won’t be playing chase the puppy, in which the puppy learns that he can easily run away and evade you.

You can do this!

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