Your New Puppy
by Karen Teplitzky
You have read many books about German Shepherds, talked to owners, visited with breeders and have now selected a puppy. Today is the day the new pup is coming home. “Now what do I do?” First thing is to relax and enjoy your new friend. We will try to get you started on the right road to having a well mannered companion. The first thing to remember is that this is a baby. This little fuzzy ball of fur will eventually grow into an elegant German Shepherd Dog, but right now he is an infant.
He has just left his mother and littermates; he is confused with all the news sounds and smells around him. This is not the time to have all the neighbors and friends in to meet the new pup. Give him a few days to get acquainted with you and his new home.
Housebreaking begins right away. The best way to housebreak a pup is by not allowing him to have accidents in the house. He needs to be restricted and supervised, do not allow him to roam around the house. Use baby gates or keep him with you at all times. Dogs need to earn house privileges, just as you would not allow a toddler to be unsupervised, your pup should not be given too much freedom too soon.
The crate is the best housebreaking tool you have. Dogs are den animals and like to have a safe, secure place of their own, most dogs will not eliminate where they eat and sleep. Remember the pup does not have the control of an adult dog. On average, a pup can control his bladder for as many months of age plus one. In other words, at 8 weeks (2 months) a pup can hold for 3 hours. Some pups will sleep through the night right away as body functions slow down during sleep. But most pups will need to go out during the night. Having the pup’s sleeping crate in your bedroom will allow you to hear him if he wakes and is also an excellent way to start the bonding process.
- Take the pup outside upon waking in the morning, after naps and meal times.
- Feed him in the crate.
- Go with the pup; don’t just put him out alone. He will not understand what he is supposed to do.
- Praise when he eliminates in the proper place. Many people teach their dogs to go on command, “Get busy”, Hurry up, etc.
- Don’t rush him. Even if he goes right away, give him a few extra minutes to make sure he is empty.
- Playtime can wait until after he goes, you want him to understand this is bathroom time.
- Keep him in his crate when you cannot watch him.
- Do not allow him to wander around the house unsupervised. Keep him in the room with you.
- If he does have an accident, do not punish or reprimand him.
- If you catch him in the act, quickly interrupt with an “uh oh” and take him outside.
- Do not punish!
Socializing your pup is one of the most important steps in having a dog that is comfortable with many different people and in many different surroundings. Your pups social skills were started at birth by being handled by the breeder and interacting with Mom and littermates. You need to continue the process in his new home, dogs that are kept only in their homes and yards during the critical socialization period, 8 weeks to 4 months, will not be comfortable with new people and surroundings when they are older. If you want your dog to grow into a confident well mannered adult, it is critical that he be socialized as young as possible.
Your pup needs to meet as many new people as possible. It is also important that he meet new dogs, however, it should only be dogs that are healthy and safe with puppies. You may have a friend with a gentle adult dog that likes puppies, or perhaps a littermate of your pup lives near by. Try to arrange a “play date”. Puppies benefit greatly from interacting with other dogs. Enrolling your pup in a good puppy class as soon as his immunization is complete is strongly recommended for everyone.
It is not advisable to take the puppy to pet shops or pet super markets. You do not know if the dogs that come into these stores are healthy or friendly. Until your pup’s immunization schedule is complete, take great care not to needlessly expose him to strange dogs or places such as dog parks or public parks.
Some safer places to visit are the homes of friends and family, hardware stores, banks, small Mom & Pop type non-food stores. Most places will welcome a small puppy, especially if you explain that you are socializing him.
Try to take your pup somewhere new each day; it will reward you with a sound, confident dog that is comfortable in any setting.
©2005 Karen Teplitzky. May not be republished without permission