Puppy Proof Your House
Please note that this item applies even if you are acquiring an older puppy or adult PWD!
You need to start thinking about what you would do to keep a child safe if you had a toddler coming to stay with you, because you will have to do the same things for a puppy. All breakable items need to be out of reach. All chemicals need to be completely inaccessible to the puppy. Any items that you don't wish to be chewed (shoes, socks, etc.) should be kept out of the reach of the puppy. You may want to use a small x-pen or child-pen in the house to confine the puppy during the first few months (whenever you are not interacting with him). This can be an alternative to his crate, giving him room to play, but still not giving him the run of the house.
Select a Veterinarian (if you don't already have one)
Find a veterinarian who understands the benefits of minimal vaccines. Check out our vaccinations page to familiarize yourself with information about this issue.
Select a Trainer or Training Center
Ideally you should enroll your puppy in classes BEFORE they are 16 weeks old, during the prime socialization age. We think that the best time to begin a class is after your puppy has had its second set of puppy series inoculations (usually given at about 12 weeks of age).
The trainer should utilize primarily positive motivational methods. You may find it helpful to go to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers' web site, www.apdt.com , and search for available trainers in your area. Keep in mind that this is just a reference - being listed on the web site does not guarantee that the trainers are acceptable. Look for trainers who have the CPDT certification first as they are most likely to apply appropriate training techniques and have a good understanding about dog behavior in general.
Arrange for Time Off from Work
Ideally at least one person in the family will either work from home, have a flexible or part-time job, or not work at all. However, if everyone works away from home we highly recommend that you plan on taking the first two weeks off from work to bond with your puppy. An alternative would be to leave him with a friend or relative, but be prepared for the bonding with that person to be stronger than with you.
During this critical time with your puppy, you have the advantage of getting his housetraining off to a good start. It also gives you an opportunity to gradually crate train him and to prepare him for your being gone for longer periods of time during the day. A word of caution - do NOT spend every minute with your puppy those first two weeks when you are off and then expect him to be happy when you go back to work.
Familiarize yourself with Crate Training
We are big believers in crating your PWD at night or during the day when s/he will be unsupervised. PWDs are easily bored and will often get into things they shouldn't when there are by themselves. Crating your PWD will prevent harm that could happen to your dog or your home if s/he were given the run of the house unsupervised.
Following is a photo taken by a PWD owner who left their PWD home alone without crating him. No serious harm was done in this case, but it could have been otherwise.
Shredded paper photo
See other examples of creative ways PWDs can entertain themselves when unsupervised.
We suggest that you start out by feeding meals or placing food treats in the crate so they associate good things with the crate right from the beginning. (This practice should be fairly quickly discontinued.)
In the very beginning of crate training, you should only leave the puppy alone in a crate for short periods (15 minutes) and provide him with a hollow bone (natural bones that have been sterilized) filled with cream cheese or peanut butter, or a kong with treats stuffed in it - something that will keep him occupied for at least 5 minutes. Studies have proven that anxiety levels of dogs left alone are worse the first 5 minutes, so if you can keep them occupied during that time, they will generally settle down much easier.
Gradually work up to longer periods of time being left alone in the crate. See a sample day's routine for young puppies.
We recommend that your puppy always sleep in his crate at night. This is especially important when the puppy is being potty trained.
If your new puppy whines in the night, wait a few minutes and see whether he will settle back down. If he continues whining, get up and take him outside to do his business (no playing allowed!), and then return him to his crate.
Find a Dog Sitter
If no one will be at home during the day and your puppy will be left indoors, you will need to make trips home every day to take your puppy outside to go to the bathroom. If you do not live close enough to work to make trips home, it is imperative that you have a dog-sitter, whether it is a relative, friend or someone you pay, to relieve your pet throughout the day.
BEFORE your puppy comes home, you should have a suitable pet sitter lined up to provide potty relief and human interaction for your puppy.
Puppies' bladders are not mature enough to hold their urine for extended periods of time. Thankfully they can hold it better through the night when sleeping because their metabolism changes and the need to urinate is diminished. (We do suggest that you not let your puppy drink after 8pm to help prevent night-time accidents.)See the chart below for guidelines on how long you should leave your puppy or dog alone before needing to relieve himself.
- 2-4 months old: 2-3 hours
- 5-6 months old: 4 hours
- 6 months to 1 year: 5-6 hours
- 1 year to adult: maximum 8 hours