...and how to avoid them!
Not! I hear it all the time, what's one more puppy? They can grow up together, keep each other busy, wear each other out...The list goes on and on. Unfortunately, no one mentions that two puppies are really just double the trouble! BOTH will need training, BOTH have no bladder control, BOTH of them need exercise and mental (not just physical) stimulation, and mischief making is more fun when you have a friend to join you. Not only can raising two puppies together be double the work, but it can sometimes lead to what many animal experts refer to as "Littermate Syndrome". Puppies raised together can miss out a lot on the animal/human bond, so caught up in each other, they have no reason to bond with their human family. Littermates raised together can have a greater chance of being fearful to new experiences later in life. Having never spent time alone, littermates raised togethercan often show severe stress or anxiety when separated, even for a short period of time. Here's a link to a wonderful article talking more in depth about this:
Nothing can beat the excitement of a new puppy - unfortunately this isn't something the puppy necessarily understands. Leaving it's mother, littermates, and the place it has called home for the first 8-12 weeks of a puppy's life can be a pretty overwhelming experience. Don't add to the excitement by inviting every member of your extended family and your entire work place over to meet the new puppy. Family members living in the home with the puppy, and maybe a close friend are plenty to wear a puppy out. Keep things simple, and keep things quiet - give the puppy a few days at least to acclimate to it's new home and family.
Puppies need structure, they need a routine. A big mistake many new puppy owners make is bringing home a puppy while they are off work for a period of time on vacation. While this seems like a great way to shower the puppy with love and attention, it can create a bit of anxiety when this new routine changes and you go back to work. Planning homecoming for the weekend is totally fine, but be sure to give the puppy a bit of alone time, and keep your sleeping habits close to your normal, so that the puppy isn't shocked when you go back to work.
Crate Training and Confinement
As your puppy grows, crates and exercise pens will be your best friend! New puppies are inquisitive, they are active, think of them as mouths on legs - ingesting, chomping, and shredding anything in their path. There is only so much "Puppy proofing" you can do to your house, having a plan for confinement will give you little bits of peace, whether you are home or away.
Crates come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and design. Petmate is one of my favorite brands. When selecting a crate, it's important to select an appropriate size - your puppy should be able to comfortably stand, sit, and lie down without any constriction of its body.
Crate training is one of the hardest things for new pet parents to follow through with. It's not uncommon for a new puppy, alone from its family for the first time, to scream and wail when expected to stay in a crate. Whatever you do, don't give in, and don't feel sorry for your pup - you'll be glad you toughed it out! Some things you can do to ease introduction to a new crate include:
Potty training can go quickly, or slowly, depending on how diligent and dedicated you are to the process. There are a variety of different ways to potty train, including a yard, potty pads, litter boxes, and more - there's one to fit everyone's needs and living situations.
Emptying a full bladder is a wonderful feeling for a puppy - they don't care where they empty it - it's up to us to show them what we expect! Too much freedom too fast is a big downfall when starting potty training - your puppy isn't pottying in another room to be sneaky, he or she just wants to be clean, why would they potty in the same room we are all hanging out in? Some things to keep in mind to ease the potty training process include:
Not all socializing is created equal! Puppy socialization should be introducing your puppy to a variety of people, animals, places, and things to help it deal with the variety of things it will encounter throughout his or her life. These experiences should be POSITIVE, and stress free for your puppy. A big mistake of socialization made by new puppy owners is throwing their puppy in a variety of uncontrolled and potentially scary situations. Socialization is only productive if the puppy leaves feeling good about the situation. Some Socialization tips include:
Exercise - both Physical and Mental
A tired puppy is a well behaved puppy! Let them run, romp, play and expend all that puppy energy - but keep in mind that they are growing, and don't force things like long hikes, running along side a bike, mile long walks, jumping and climbing over obstacles, etc. Forced exercise can do more harm than good to growing puppies and their still forming bones and open growth plates. You can wear them out mentally with basic obedience, as well as trick training. You can also use puzzle toys and food dispensers such as Kong Wobblers, stuffed Kongs, and Buster Cubes.
While it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks - it's never too early to start working with and training your new puppy! Starting early allows you to mold your pup into the dog you'd like him or her to become, and it insures that you prevent any bad behaviors from becoming habits. When deciding on which behaviors are appropriate and which behaviors aren't, I like to remind new pet owners to think "will I like this if/when my pup weighs 80lbs?" If you accept a behavior now, it's very difficult to change the rules later on. Some behaviors that are great to teach your new puppy include:
Too Much Training
While it's great to start training as soon as possible - it's important to make sure you allow some "down time" to allow the puppy to just be a puppy. This doesn't mean that it's a free for all, and to allow the rules go out the window, but remember that your puppy is just a baby and he or she needs time to relax in addition to train. This mistake is made more often with puppies purchased with an intended purpose, or "job" in mind. Don't push your pup too far too fast, teach them good behaviors, teach them to have fun, teach them to love training, and let them grow up to be happy and well adjusted dogs.
Happy Training - and enjoy your puppy!