The Ultimate Puppy Guide

The Ultimate Puppy Guide- I’m actually laughing out loud as I type the title for this blog post. Since all I can offer is my experience over the last month, a better title might be, “The Nervous Owners Guide to Bringing a Puppy Home” or “Puppies: For Idiots”.

This online community never ceases to amaze me. So many readers and followers sent me countless messages with advice for puppy-rearing. I can’t thank you enough for your incredible advice, and I thought it would be nice to share some things that have worked for us.

1. Get two crates

I stressed over some of the small details prior to George’s arrival. Shocker, I know. It’s not like I’m high-strung or anything. (Please detect the sarcasm). We decided we would get George two crates– one for the nighttime and one for the daytime. One crate is in our bedroom, and this is where George sleeps at night. The crate in our kitchen is where we put him whenever we’re leaving. I am amazed at how much George has grown to love his crate. When we’re home, he often opts to nap in there instead of on the couch.

To get him used to it, we fed him in his crate for the first week. We also sprinkle treats in the crate throughout the day to keep it a positive place, not just the place he goes when we leave.

Speaking of which, we’ve kept to a pretty strict schedule of leaving him for 1 hour the first week, 2 hours for the next few weeks, and now we are starting to do 3 hours a few times a week. By the end of August, George will need to get used to being crated for 3-4 hours while we are at school. Also, we have been trying to leave him at different times of day to allow him to adjust. Occasionally, he cries before I leave him. I ignore it and listen from the porch like a crazy, overbearing person. He usually stops after 3-4 minutes. Clearly, he is doing it for attention.

Bedtime has been going well after the first few nights. He slept through the night after a week, and it is the ultimate blessing. However, 6am seems to be his wake-up time regardless of day. (Apparently dood doesn’t understand what the weekend is all about.)

The Ultimate Puppy Guide

2. Potty potty potty

Potty training has been going so well (knock on all the wood). I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m home with George a lot this summer. Tracking his bathroom situation has helped tremendously. The first week, I took him out every single hour and praised the heck out of him anytime he did any of his business outside. Our poor neighbors probably think I’m slightly crazy as they’ve heard my high-pitched puppy-praising voice way too often.

We’re into a groove and know when he needs to do his business on a typical day. We decided that “potty” would be his command for bathroom. We always take him to potty on leash in the same area of our yard. He is pretty good about going and will stare at us or nip us gently if he needs to go out.

In our yard, we placed a small trash bin to house all the poop bags. I empty it every few days into a larger bag.

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The Ultimate Puppy Guide

3. Just get these toys

My sister’s friend suggested the “Snuggle Pet”, and it is life-changing. This little toy helped comfort George in his crate the first few nights. He still keeps it in his crate with him. It has a battery-operated pulse and warming pack to simulate a real dog. I thought it was slightly crazy to buy dozens of toys for a dog, but it isn’t. He has a huge bin of everything and plays with his toys all day long. The toys have been saving our furniture over the last month. Anytime he is caught chewing on our French rope end table, we give him a toy to redirect his attention.

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4. Get a private trainer

I can’t say enough about the training facility we go to for puppy class. It has been incredibly informative and great to have George take class every Saturday this summer. That being said, we hired a trainer to come to our house the first week we got him. We didn’t want to wait for class to start and wanted a more personalized experience.

Private training in our area can be pricy ($175 per session&up). We shopped around and were able to hire an incredible mutual friend who owns a training facility in Stamford. Our session was significantly less and worth every penny. She set our nerves about a lot of things we were feeling nervous about and gave us some incredible pointers.

The Ultimate Puppy Guide

5. Keep the social calendar booked

Many people will say you should not socialize your dog until he is fully vaccinated at 16 weeks. For us, we didn’t want to lose a valuable 8 weeks of socialization time. After George’s second round of shots at 10 weeks, we decided he was ready for some playdates and puppy class, and our vet agreed.

Given the current times, socializing can be tricky. The dog park completely freaks me out. We have a few awesome ones in our area, but we want to wait until he is a little bigger before taking him to play there. We’ve been lucky to host several friends with dogs outside for safe pupdates. Thank God for a fenced-in yard! George has played with older dogs and puppies-all breeds and sizes. We are able to see his little personality shine through. He is very friendly to both people and dogs and has an immense amount of puppy-energy. We’ve been told by several trainers that he is pretty high-energy for a labradoodle. These observations are helpful as we develop a walking schedule for him. The more tired he is, the less damage he tends to do around the house.

The Ultimate Puppy Guide

At the end of the day, my best advice is to pick a puppy who is super cute. No matter what destruction or headache George might cause, one look at his cute face, and I can’t help but smile. *George is a medium-sized Aussie Labradoodle who should grow to be around 40lbs. All pictures were taken by Brooke Allison Photo.

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