Our First day
Well we’ve made it home with 10 week old Benji!
For his first day we have left this cute bundle to wonder in the lounge and kitchen which for several weeks will be his day time playing/eating and sleeping zone. The lounge is totally puppy proofed with a selection of cushions, pillows, towels and boxes blocking all the areas that can be dangerous for Benji … and in some cases where Benji can be a danger to fragile items! There is even a blanket hanging from the TV stand protecting the DVD player and Sky box! Also look out for and remove any items on coffee tables or low furniture that are within reach and if you forget to put your shoes away, don’t blame your puppy!
Benji will be fed 4 times a day at the same times until 4 months (last meal at 6pm latest) when it will be reduced to 3 meals a day and then to twice a day at 6 month. At this young age he is fed a mixture of wet puppy food and puppy biscuits. I am probably in a minority who believes dried food is not best for any canine, it is only best for the owners. I do not disagree that dried food contains all the necessary vitamins and goodness a dog needs, but how many dog owners would be happy eating every day of their lives a form of say crisp bread that has all the necessary supplements to sustain a human. Dogs are carnivors and just like most humans they enjoy different textures, tastes and meat.
To crate or not to crate
Some people consider it to be a cage or a prison, if properly introduced I believe it can become your puppy’s “doggie den” where he can retreat if he feels overwhelmed or wants to chew his new toy or take a nap. It should not be used if you are out working most of the day, then it does become a prison.
First things first, the crate needs to be big enough for the canine to stand, turn and move around and lay down comfortably. It should be where you can be seen and heard and only used for any length of time when your puppy cannot be supervised or to calm him down so he takes a nap. It needs to feel a place of safety. Leave the door open and leave toys in the crate along with the odd treat so the puppy has a happy association with his doggie den.
Make sure you start by shutting the door just for a few minutes and make sure he is not whining or barking when you open the door and then give him a treat. Gradually increase the time in the doggie den and make sure he is not only put in it when you go out but at different times of the day. All puppies will do their best not to soil the crate but if it happens just remove him and do not shout or punish him as he will have no idea why you have reacted in such a way.
Our First Night
WARNING! If you have a new puppy, it’s a fact that you’re not going to get your 8 hours of sleep for a while.
After being woken up at about 5am 7 days a week for 2 weeks or more, the fun of getting up to feed and play with your puppy will be wearing off!
We played with Benji as much as possible during the evening to keep him awake but he “crashed out” at around 8.30pm! I personally don’t believe in leaving a puppy that has just been taken away from its mother and siblings on his own at night. As I carried Benji to our bedroom I say “bed time” and he will hear these 2 words every night and within days he will understand what is happening. As he is used to using newspaper, I have a rug covered with paper for his use during the night. We have a small dog bed on either side of our bed. We left the light on for a while to give Benji a chance to familiarise himself with this new environment and he did pace around the room for a while. However within 15 minutes he had settled down in his bed on my husband’s side. He woke up at 2.30am whining and licking my hand – I didn’t speak to him and just stroked him and within 10-15 minutes he curled up and went back to sleep. However we were woken up at 4.45am and he was wide awake and playful and I knew there was no point attempting to get him to go back to sleep!
For those who want their puppy sleeping in a room on their own, firstly be aware that your puppy will take a lot longer to settle as he will be distressed at being left alone as this has probably never happened to him in his short life. Please make sure you leave a fluffy toy to cuddle up to and leave some soft music playing or the radio on low. You will almost certainly have to leave your puppy in a crate and this means, unless you get up at night, he will wet the crate. Please be very patient as any frustrated outburst will only frighten the puppy and make the whole process of him settling at night a lot longer.
This paragraph from http://www.4pawsu.com/raisingpuppy.htm explains very well about teaching anything new to your puppy.
“What many new puppy owners fail to understand is that “teaching the puppy” doesn’t simply mean teaching them once, or twice, or for a couple of weeks. Mike Bibby’s high school basketball coach didn’t just show him once or twice how to shoot the ball. It took years for him to master the skills necessary to become a professional basketball player. The same is true when teaching a new puppy skills and concepts, many of which go against his very doggie nature.”
It is very tempting to ask friends and family to come and meet your new puppy. However too many visitors can be frightening and overwhelming for a puppy, therefore during the first week in particular, we made sure only one or two persons visited at a time.
Benji has been happy to play with most of his toys although his small rubber ball is his favourite and he is already chasing it up and down the lounge and he has already been given the nickname Dynamite on Legs! He does get very excited when playing so we ensure he is asked to stop and sit so that he calms down and can refocus. This routine can be invaluable as your dog gets bigger to ensure you always have control of play times with you or other dogs.
Benji will not be left on his own until towards the end of the second week when he will be left for just maybe 3-4 minutes while we go outside and test his reaction. We will go back in and if he has been quiet, he will be praised and rewarded. This is the first step of your puppy getting to understand that when he is left alone, you do always come home but the length of this process will be different for every pooch.
Fun is the key
Puppy training and socialisation should be fun for both owner and dog. Puppies can be taught to sit, lie down, and come for rewards. MAKE IT FUN! Don’t be negative and discipline him too much. Your puppy will learn more if he enjoys the lessons.
PATIENCE AND ROUTINE = HAPPY PUPPY AND OWNER