Preparation for Puppy Arrival
Plan to send sweat or T-shirt or pj’s with your scent to breeder bi-weekly or more often if you can drop it off. Mail in a Ziplock bag if you can’t drop it off yourself. In the last week before puppy comes home, take or send a safe (no eyes, beads etc that puppies may chew off or swallow) stuffed toy or towel/blanket (whichever the breeder prefers) the litter to play/sleep with. This puts their scent on it and will be something familiar to your puppy so it can help with the transition to your home, especially first few nights.
Find out what breeder is feeding, purchase or make it. It is important to continue with it to start to prevent diarrhea. The pup is going through enough changes that you and he don’t need tummy upset on top of this. If you want to change it, wait at least 2 weeks until you have a potty pattern established.
When you pick up the puppy, bring an empty jug for water if the breeder’s water source is well water or other unusual source. A gallon milk jug works great. If they use bottled water, start with the same brand and then transition over to your local water.
Plan where your puppy will sleep. If you are planning to have the dog sleep with you, start with a rolled up fleece or blanket on your bed that will be a barrier to prevent your puppy from rolling off the end and you from crushing the pup in your sleep. This will give you a window of time to condition your puppy to sleeping in a crate on his own without the trauma of letting them ‘cry it out’. Letting them ‘Cry it out’, is not recommended.
Place the crate beside your bed. Do not put the puppy in another room. They are missing mom and litter so need to be close to you for the first while. Later on, you will want him close for the assistance he will provide you. In the next 4 weeks that you have the pup, make the crate a wonderful place by tossing toys, treats and feeding him in it and place him in it for naps for a longer period every few days. Having two crates may be helpful for training purposes when he is young. Try borrowing a neighbor’s crate. Wash all used crates before you use it with detergents or bleach to kill potential diseases.
Daytime naps and short evening naps are good times to start training him to be comfortable in it. Allow the puppy to nap in the crate for more and more until he is happy to sleep there on his own. Aim for about 12 weeks of age for the pup to be sleeping in a crate on his own. In either case, it is a good idea to sleep with the puppy on your bed to establish the bond. If you can’t physically sleep with the pup for health or other reasons the first few weeks, roll up a recently worn T-shirt or Pajama top with the pup and place the stuffed toy or blanket from the litter in it for the pulp to cuddles into.
Create on paper or computer a schedule for the puppy or dog. We provide one for you in the service puppy class. What times will the puppy eat, potty, sleep, play, socialization, and do mental exercise (environmental enrichment and training). This will be your schedule for the next while. Remember that young puppies sleep unto 18 hours a day. If they don’t get enough sleep, they get bitey and cranky and won’t fall asleep easily.
Decide where the puppy will potty. This needs to be a fairly small area with easy access to a commonly used door and in a quiet area away from people passing. Take your puppy out on leash and praise liberally after the pup goes. You can treat if you want. Make sure play only occurs after the potty is done. Bringing another dog over to inoculate the spot just before you get the pup or periodically after you have him helps to give him a target to aim for. Some people even define the area by creating a potty sandbox for the dog. It is easy to clean up and easy to water to dilute the urine. You can define a couple such areas in the yard if you want to alternate areas.
Plan who is going to clean up the potty are and how often. Make sure it is accessible if you are in a wheelchair. For people with mobility issues, it may help to purchase a poop picker upper, pooper scooper or similar. This is one thing you cannot train your dog to do for you. (LOL) Check online or at your local pet store. You may consider hiring a company to pick up poop and dispose of it. Check to see if they use environmentally-friendly methods of disposal such as composting or taking to a landfill.
Are you going to use a crate for potty training?
They are useful for traveling in vehicles and giving your dog a place to call home when you travel. They can be a good stress reliever after a long day. Consider if the dog needs to be in a crate as an adult. If the dog is an alert dog, he needs to be able to get to you to perform the alert. The dog could sleep in a crate next to the bed and take the door off. Or the dog could sleep on the bed. Collect needed equipment before puppy or dog comes. It need not be new, just needs to be clean. Bleach crates and toys, launder bedding, etc. before use.
6 or 8-foot leash that is comfortable for you to hold. One with clips on both ends and are 7 to 8 get long are useful for those with mobility issues. In general, the lighter weight leashes are easier to handle but make sure they are not wide, nor too narrow. Leather leashes work well for most people but if you have allergies, you may need to purchase nylon ones.
Comfortable collar for tags - you’ll need several sizes as your dog grows.
Flat body harnesses with rings at the chest and on the back A Balance harness is ideal for most puppies as it is highly adjustable. Similar harness with the Y-yoke at the chest are available at pet stores. Ensure the harness does not tighten at all nor has a strap that goes straight across the puppy's chest. This negatively affects the movement of the shoulders and gait.
15-30 foot light line Paracord is strong and light.
timer (for house training)
Exercise pen (X-pen) etc.
Toys (make sure they are toxin free, not made in China etc.) Here is an article: http://thebark.com/content/choosing-safe-dog-toys Collect newspapers to line floor during potty training. Figure out how to dispose of them.
Crate: Tips on purchasing a crate.
It is best to buy one that will fit the adult size of your dog. You can block it off to make the space smaller using various sized cardboard boxes or Rubbermaid type containers. Some wire crates come with dividers.
An ideal crate size allows your pup to stand up with the head at least partially upright (so 6 to 8 inches taller than the adult dog is at the shoulder), and about one and a half times as long as the dog is nose to base of the tail. The dog needs to be able to turn around. It can be made of wire or plastic. The wire ones will need to be covered to create a dark cozy area. Avoid using the soft-sided fold up crates with puppies as those are not designed to withstand chewing during the teething and adolescent stages.
It is better to err on the larger crate size so your dog has more room. Be aware that some of the larger crates will not fit in the back seat of some cars so measure before you buy. A collapsible crate might be a better option for larger dogs so you can take it with you. If you want to use it for car restraint, you might be better off purchasing a harness seat belt system for larger dogs. Make sure you check to see if both the crate and harness brands have been crash-tested if you plan to use it in the car as many of these fail.
Research a vet.
Get recommendations from positive reinforcement trainers, groomers etc. Look for a vet whose staff uses low-stress handling techniques.
Find a groomer (if needed). Ask to watch a dog being groomed. If they do not allow it, be aware. Watch for rough handling or use of coercion instead of giving the dog time to adjust to what is being asked. Treats can be used. Look for a groomer who uses low-stress handling techniques. One stressful visit can set the dog up for fearful grooming interactions for life.
Research future puppy and adolescent training classes. Visit the classes and see the location, class size, environmental enrichment offered, how the play sessions are run, what training approach is used (should be all positive-no use of prong collars, choke chains, e-collars or other punitive devices like shake cans etc). Avoid trainers that push the bum down for sit etc.)
Here’s an article to help you choose.
During weeks 8 to 12 a puppy needs much human interaction. Plan to spend most of your days with the puppy during this period. Plan to be taking him out and about. After 12 weeks, there is not enough time to grow the puppy’s brain to do what you want him to do. Do it earlier rather than later.
If you work away from home during the first critical 8 weeks at home, and cannot take the pup or dog with you, you need to find a trusted dog sitter (dedicated assistant or hired help) to keep your pup company while you are away, take him places and gently expose him to people, other dog savvy dogs, animals, places etc. This period is very important. Be very careful who you choose as they can make or break your puppy’s socialization. All interactions should be by the puppy’s own choosing, positive and brief. A person who is certified by CDPT, Karen Pryor Academy, Jean Donaldson’s Dog Training Academy should be knowledgeable with your pup.
Collect environmental enrichment materials you will use over the next 8 to 12 weeks: umbrella, wobble board, puzzle toys, low stools, ramps, tarp for flooring and roof, plastic rolls, cardboard boxes of different sizes, plan to borrow skateboard, bicycle, stroller, ladder, ball to bounce etc. Make a list of items to collect from this socialization checklist. https://drsophiayin.com/app/uploads/2015/12/Socialization_Checklist.pdf It helps to use masking tape to put people’s names on objects so you can return them.
Do you have long stairs in your home? While puppies do need to learn to use them, they should not be doing them daily until the dog is at least 12 weeks old. Studies showed that puppies that do stairs as a daily occurrence (such as climbing a flight of stairs to go to bed) have a higher incidence of hip dysplasia. Plan an alternative. Is the dog small enough to carry up? Can you put a ramp? Can you sleep at the bottom of the stairs until the pup is old enough?
Choose where your puppy is going to play daily for exercise. The study above suggests that puppies exercised on gently undulating surfaces have a lower incidence of hip dysplasia. Young puppies up to at least 6 months should not be going on forced (leashed) walks. They need free play (stop and go and sniffing type exercise) and be able to choose when they have had enough. Several short sessions are better than one long one. Playing in the yard with family and neighbor dogs on grass or mulch or on a long line in the park provide an option. You can build exercise sessions into training sessions by alternating them. The exercise gives the puppy’s mind a break and allows him time to process what he is learning.
Make a checklist of things you for environmental enrichment in the first 16 weeks. Here's a video to get you started.
- Send old clothing with scent
- Buy food
- Take water jug
- Plan sleeping location
- Plan puppy's daily schedule
- Plan potty location
- Who is going to clean potty area?
- Size the crate for adult dog
- Buy or collect puppy or dog equipment
- Find a vet
- Find a groomer
- Find training puppy classes and basic classes
- Plan to be home or to hire someone to work with pup while you are at work
- Collect environmental enrichment materials
- Plan alternative to doing stairs daily
- Plan where puppy is going to get exercise
- Socialization checklist