I’ve completed a lot of 121 home visits recently for new puppy owners who are feeling a little overwhelmed at the amount of attention their new little ball of fluff needs, in particular how much hard work they have found the toilet training, play biting and interactions with children and other pets.
If you are struggling to cope with your new puppy or simply need some guidance on dealing with common puppy issues (toilet training, play biting, chewing, introducing children and other pets etc), then why not book an Early Puppy Visit with me. I’ll visit your home and provide advice on these all important puppy concerns. I can also provide guidance on how you can effectively socialise and habituate your new puppy in their early stages of life. These 121’s are individual to you and can be tailored to suit your needs, so whatever your issues, I can help you!
Below are a few common reasons why people will panic about their new fluffy family member and some basic guidance on how you can help the situation be a bit less overwhelming.
Accidents in the home will always occur with a new puppy and hopefully before you got your puppy you will have been expecting that! Housetraining is one of the first things that puppy owners will need to achieve and with a little common sense, commitment, positive training and consistency, this doesn’t have to be as daunting as it first appears.
There are a number of ways in which you can toilet train your puppy. Using Puppy Pads is a popular method for pre-vaccinated puppies when it is not safe for them to toilet outside just yet. When done correctly you can teach your puppy to toilet on a specific area and then you can help them to make the transition between going to the toilet on puppy pads inside and toileting outside.
Crate training (which I am a big fan of) can also be good way to assist toilet training as it encourages puppies to hold themselves for longer. When a crate is used correctly, your puppy can associate it with a safe place to sleep and have quiet time. It is important to say though, that whilst time in a crate can be a good thing, it must not be for longer than your puppy can cope with as keeping a puppy in a crate for too long will cause accidents, unwanted chewing and anxiety. However, if you use the crate correctly, it can improve toilet training as well as be a comfortable place that your puppy will feel safe and secure in.
Generally, if you can be consistent in your training and take your puppy outside immediately after each of the below situations, then you are likely to be more successful in training your puppy to toilet outside quicker:
- After sleeping or napping
- After eating/drinking
- After playtimes
- After training sessions
- When overly excited
- During or after a stressful situation
Never punish your puppy for going to the toilet in the house as he may begin to avoid going to the toilet in front of you because he knows it makes you angry. Instead, he will sneak away to do it, which will make it harder for you to teach him the correct behaviour.
Please remember though, each puppy is different and some puppies will learn this faster than others. Be aware that some puppies take as long as 6 months or more to become fully housetrained (and of course, they have tiny little bladders)! How quickly a puppy becomes housetrained is largely down to how much time and effort you as their owner can put in! Be patient with your puppy – this is a big step for them to learn and they will get it, they just need your help!
Before your puppy came to live with you, he spent a lot of time playing with his brothers and sisters! Puppies in a litter explore each other using their mouths and so play biting is a natural game for puppies and your puppy will attempt to play with you in this way too. Be assured, this is completely normal behaviour and not a sign of aggression. However, puppies have sharp teeth and some have strong jaws and so you need to teach them that biting hands, feet and arms isn’t acceptable, but that biting toys is. Always have a large soft toy to hand and when your puppy starts biting you, replace your hand with the toy. The more excited your puppy gets, the more the biting will increase, so keep the toy moving (along the ground is best to prevent them jumping up). Make the toy as exciting as possible so that playing with the toy becomes a game to your puppy and their biting is redirected from your hand to the toy instead.
If carried out properly and consistently by all family members and visitors, all the time, the above method is usually enough to help your puppy learn what is acceptable to bite and what isn’t. However, if this method isn’t working, first consider whether your toy is big enough – is there enough room for you to hold the toy safely without your puppy accidentally biting you? If you are still having difficulty though or if you puppy is clearly focusing their biting on you, stand up and walk away slowly - ending the puppy’s game and contact with you immediately. If you repeat this every time the excessive play biting occurs, then after just a few days, your puppy should learn to stop biting you as they work out that biting humans quickly brings an end to their game.
Biting can increase when puppies are teething too. In this case, have some appropriate and safe chews ready. Frozen KONG’s are brilliant for this and there are so many dog friendly recipes you can stuff KONG’s with! I have a selection of KONG’s available to purchase at my Early Puppy Visits as well as other suitable chewing options to help relieve your puppies teething symptoms!
Introductions to Existing Pets
Introducing a new puppy or dog to an existing pet can be challenging. Both existing and new pets should be given time to get used to each other and preferably the first meeting should be done away from your home. You may find that both pets get on well straight away while other introductions may not be completely successful as one pet may not fully adjust to the new puppy/dog. Until you are absolutely sure that there is no risk of a fight breaking out, you should never leave your new puppy/dog alone or unattended with your existing pet.
If you already have another dog in your household, try to initiate the first meeting away from your home (bearing in mind to keep your puppy safe as it won’t be fully vaccinated). Then when you get home, make sure to pick up any toys, bones and food bowls etc to prevent your dogs from guarding them. Keep the excitement to a minimum and try not to intervene too much unless you are worried for your puppy’s safety.
It is also really important to spend quality 121 time with each of your dogs. You want your bond with each of your dogs to be stronger than what they have with each other. Monitoring the amount of time your puppy spends playing with your other dog and making sure he spends the same amount of time, if not more, with humans will help him grow up as a human-orientated dog. He will then be much easier to train, you’ll have a stronger bond with each of your dogs and your dogs will relate better to you and other humans as a result!
If you have another species of pet in your household, this can be great for your puppy’s socialisation and if young enough, your puppy will accept it as just another family member. However, the instinct to chase, catch and kill small animals still exists within our dogs and so they should not be left alone unattended.
Interactions with Children
You must never leave any child alone or unattended with any puppy/dog, especially a new one or an unfamiliar dog. It is so important to teach your child how to interact respectfully with their new puppy/dog and this is for the safety and wellbeing of both your child and your dog. If you see your child pulling at your puppy, sitting/climbing on top of them, teasing the dog or handling them inappropriately, stop it immediately as this is a disaster waiting to happen. Even if your puppy/dog seems to be accepting the behaviour, you may not realise their body language is actually a sign that they aren’t coping with it well and are instead finding the situation stressful which in turn could lead to a disastrous outcome and one that could have been easily avoided.
If you have young children, introduce a rule that they are not to pick the puppy up. If picked up incorrectly by a child, this could hurt the puppy and the puppy will then become worried about being picked up and may react badly towards that child. It is also important to make sure that your children do not wake the puppy when it is sleeping as this could make your puppy irritable.
Remember, toilet accidents, play biting and worries about introducing puppies/dogs to children and other pets are all perfectly normal concerns! You are not alone and there are techniques which will help you to overcome these issues! Having a new puppy can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be and asking for help is the best thing you can do ... don’t struggle to cope alone!