(By: Richard Peter) - Bringing a new puppy home is one of the most exciting things in the world. And when it goes smoothly, it’s a wonderful experience.
However, amongst this joy, it’s also very easy for things to go pear-shaped quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. Especially if you’re a first-time puppy parent.
I believe it’s so important that dog owners are given the tools, resources, and puppy training tips that are essential for setting a new puppy up for success.
1. Setting Up Your Puppy’s Living Space
Probably the first decision you’ll make about your new puppy is whether or not you want to look at getting a little crate for your puppy, a pen, or both.
A perfect-sized crate is usually not going to be much bigger than your puppy for sleeping, but bear in mind the puppy is going to grow.
It’s important that your puppy is able to stretch out in the crate. However, you don’t want to give him too much room to explore.
The idea is not that the puppy runs around in the crate; instead, it contains the puppy and lets him fall asleep because he can’t run around.
Many cages come with internal walls that allow you to change the size of the cage as the puppy grows. This is very helpful so you don’t have to keep buying crates!
Put a comfy blanket in the crate, and your puppy will learn to love the crate as his safe place.
Now, you may choose to get a pen as well, which is usually about 6-feet-high and 6 feet by 6 feet in width. The idea is that this is where the puppy can wake up, get out of his crate and play…even if you’re not watching him.
Your puppy will be safe in the pen and will be all set up if you put a little potty pad and some have some toys in there to play with.
Using a crate and pen together are very helpful in toilet training.
Both keep your puppy contained and relaxed, which makes it easy to pick your puppy up out of the crate or pen where he is and take him outside to the potty area on a routine basis.
So, that’s one huge advantage of using a crate and a pen, and generally the puppies love them.
The other advantage is that, in terms of money, the crate and the pen usually hold their value. If you buy them secondhand you can usually sell them for the same price later on. You only need to use them for about six months.
2. Where Should Your Puppy Sleep?
Deciding where your puppy sleeps can be tricky because a lot of it depends on how independent and confident your little puppy is.
If you think of it almost like a child or a young baby, some babies need to be in the room with you for the first few weeks or months, and some puppies do as well. They’re much more relaxed if the crate is in your bedroom because they know you are close by.
However, you can always have the crate in your bedroom and then move the crate during the day so they can be with you, or have a second crate in another room.
Some puppies will need to be in your bedroom for sleeping, but you can still set the main area up with the pen, in a room where you spend most of your time during the day.
Important note: Make sure you’re not putting the puppy in an area where there’s a large draft or where he’s going to be in a hot direct sunshine. You need to make sure that the temperature is going to be maintained.
It’s also important to make sure that you set the pen or crate up on an area or surface that you can clean very easily. It’s best not to have them on a carpet. Put them on a wooden floor, tile floor, marble floor, concrete floor, or something like that.
Or think about putting a plastic sheet underneath and, fingers crossed, the puppy doesn’t start chewing it. If your puppy is on a carpeted area, and he starts peeing on it, it’s very tricky to stop that.
The second thing to think about is safety.
You want to keep your puppy away from any sort of electric cables and any staircases if you’ve got a very small house. You do not want to give your puppy access to the whole house. Just one room is absolutely fine.
Having your puppy in one room allows you to start this whole process of just peering down to the other end of the house to check on your pup. When you come in, your puppy realizes it’s not the end of the world that you’ve been gone.
The other main reason for not giving your puppy access to the whole house is, if you do, I guarantee you he’ll travel down to the far end of the house, sneak behind a piece of furniture, and go potty there. Puppies are very sneaky little critters.
3. Potty Training Your Puppy Okay, that brings us to puppy potty training.
Now, with potty training, there’s not one correct way of training your puppy. There are many different options, and the way you train your puppy often depends on what kind of home you live in.
If you’ve got a large garden that’s easy to access, it might be realistic to set a schedule and take your puppy outside every day at the same times.
However, if there are lots of steps down to your garden and you want to use potty pads, there’s nothing wrong with that. As your puppy gets older, he’ll be able to hold his bladder longer, and you can make the transition to using the bathroom outdoors.
One thing I would suggest though, regardless of what training approach you take, is to roll up any thick chunky pile carpets, valuable carpets, or any other rugs on your floor that your puppy would be tempted to use as a restroom.
Once the puppy starts peeing on a carpet, it is incredibly difficult to get that stain out of the rug and to break the habit. So, I’ve warned you…roll them up, and you can put them back down in six months when your puppy is trained.
The other thing with toilet training is to make sure that the outside area where your puppy is going toilet is very safe.
What I’m talking about is when you take your puppy outside, make sure he can’t get into the house or escape through a fence. And you will even want to check to be sure there’s not rat bait or anything like that on the ground that your puppy can get into.
4. How to Ensure Your Puppy Remains Happy and Relaxed A lot of ensuring your puppy stays calm and happy comes down to making sure you spend time with him to make sure that he is comfortable.
We’ve talked about making sure your puppy is warm enough and not too hot and that he has a nice cozy blanket to lie on.
You may also want to look at having a variety of dog toys that he can chew because it’s the different textures of toys, which will really stimulate the puppy’s mind.
You don’t want to have all of the puppy’s toys being made of the same product, such as plastic.
You want plastic rope, maybe a toy made with natural fibers in there, and a soft, fluffy toy that your pup can really sink his baby teeth into.
And of course, remember to always leave water down for your dog.
Make sure your puppy has all of these things, and it will be easier for him to stay happy and relaxed.
5. Important Training Tip
The last thing I want to talk about is an important training tip that is especially important for puppies.
The tip is basically to let sleeping dogs lie, and there are three reasons why I have this rule.
The first reason is that puppies will get very tired. They’re going to be so stimulated by every new thing they encounter, and it’s very easy for them to become overtired and exhausted.
Much like a newborn child, it’s important to not "wake your baby." He needs rest…and lots of it!
If you keep bothering your puppy when he’s in his little bed trying to relax and switch off, it’s easy for him to become tired and grumpy. So, if your puppy goes to bed, leave him there.
If you need to take him out for the bathroom, by all means go and pick him up and take him straight out. That’s the one exception.
The second reason is that it’s very easy for little puppies to be scared by young children.
If you put the puppy into his bed and you explain to the children that when their puppy is in the bed, you must leave him alone, this will help your puppy feel more safe and secure.
Then, your puppy will learn to love that little area—whether it be a crate or a pen— as his little safety space.
One little tip you may try with the pen or the crate is to put a little blanket over the top because then it feels more like a little den to your puppy.
It will make it feel much safer. Puppies don’t really like being out in the open and neither do dogs. That’s why many dogs like to go under a table or under a bed…it feels more like a den.
The third reason is, if your puppy knows that he is safe in his bed, he’s going to learn to love his bed. This is a very important thing for your dog to learn to like…especially if you plan on crate training your dog.