I'm getting a puppy for my birthday (no, really ...)
February 22, 2013 10:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm getting a puppy! Would love some advice about the first few days/weeks, especially in terms of bringing him to my office.

I'm adopting this adorable guy. He was dropped off with his sister at the defacto rescue in a Mexican village, where they were found by a friend and whisked back to the US.

They've been at the friend's house, where they've had lots of opportunity to socialize with people and other dogs, for the last month. They're remarkably healthy and well-adjusted given their tumultuous infancies. I'm taking him home next Friday - we think he's about 8-9 weeks old. They're already great at coming when called, sitting on command (with treats) and walking on a leash. Less great at pooping only outside.

I've been reading up on the proper care and feeding of puppies (and have lived with several adult dogs), but I've got some specific questions:

- Lots of people seem to recommend a "dog toilet," but I'd rather establish with him that he only poops/pees outside. Can I just bring him outside every two hours or so?

- I'll be bringing him with me to my dog-friendly office. My initial plan: keep him mostly in my office with the door closed, possibly in his crate most of the time at first. I was also thinking I'd bring him outside to the same spot every 2 hours to go to the bathroom and then take a short walk (I work next to a greenway). Does this sound reasonable? Also, what's the best way to handle introducing him to the other dogs in the office?

I would also love any general puppy-raising advice. Things to look out for the first few weeks, stuff you wish you'd known your first time with a puppy, etc. Already planning to enroll him in puppy kindergarten, and I have a pretty good puppy set-up at home (fenced-in yard, space for a puppy play area, puppy-proofing this weekend).
posted by lunasol to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If he's not housetrained yet, your puppy is going to use the office floor (or a chair, or a desk, or a file cabinet) as a bathroom regardless of how often you bring him outside.

If the office is animal-friendly, then I suggest you find out exactly where they keep the Nature's Miracle (or any other enzyme cleaner, not just regular cleaner.) If they don't have any, bring some with you. Cleaning feces or urine with plain cleaner leaves odors the dog can detect, and those odors mean "it's okay to keep using this spot as a bathroom!"
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

You sound like you've got a great set up there.

I will say that you need to be really careful about puppy-proofing your house.

Puppies are very destructive and chewy, so put your shoes away and anything else that looks like fun to nom on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:07 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Your every two hours plan sounds perfect, if you can be away from your desk that much without getting in hot water. I don't care for pee pads/dog toilets because I think it confuses the housebreaking process. "Don't go inside" is much easier to grok than "Go outside or here inside but not here."

I had raised kittens before but I egregiously underestimated how hard it is to raise puppies. The middle-of-the-night potty outings, the endless energy, the lack of impulse control and bite inhibition, and God the chewing... the only reason we don't strangle puppies is because they're so cute.

Use lots of patience, coat all power and network cables with bitter apple and remember that you love your dog but your officemates might not. (I say this as someone with a dog asleep at her feet... at work.)
posted by workerant at 11:14 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think crating him in your office is the best way to keep him safe at work. (And to keep your employer's carpet from getting peed on.) I can still vividly remember the yelps of a coworker's dog that chewed through her phone cord, and that's much lower voltage than most office wires. (Dog was fine. We people were slightly traumatized.)

Also, even though your office is dog-friendly, keep in mind that it's still an office and some of your coworkers may not love listening to barking, whining, or even just constant dog talk. So be a good colleague and think about whether your puppy will disturb the people around you, and start training him right away on how to be quiet at work and lie down until he has been told he can approach someone.
posted by MsMolly at 11:16 AM on February 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and the phone cord chewing incident happened while the owner was in her office with the dog, so don't think that just because you're there he won't be able to get hurt. That's why I suggest crating or relentlessly puppy-proofing the space.
posted by MsMolly at 11:19 AM on February 22, 2013

possibly in his crate most of the time at first

Depending on how big your office is, consider getting him an x-pen so he can kind of romp a bit and play with toys while still being confined to an easy-to-police area.
posted by phunniemee at 11:23 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've housebroken all my dogs by taking them outside every couple of hours, and also the approximate time they go off after eating, drinking, and waking up from a nap (naps = outside immediately before the poor pup is even fully awake). With the exception of one dog who was older and not appropriately cared for before she was abandoned, I've never had serious indoor issues. And even the last one finally figured it out after two years.

But don't take a dog somewhere that you absolutely cannot have an accident, because of course that's where it will happen.

I would assume that any dogs your coworkers bring to the office are well-socialized and laid back with regard to other dogs. Dogs like that will expect the appropriate respect from your puppy, but also will know it is a puppy. They will discipline him if he gets bitey or annoying, young adult dogs will probably want to play with him. Be cautious about holding him in your arms in the presence of other dogs; it can set off prey drive and/or weird hierarchy jostling. It's better to just not hold him and let him be down on an even playing field.

You might check with your vet regarding the appropriate age to mix with other animals and other animal waste. You want to avoid that until he's old enough to be past high parvo risk, because that's an awful death. He may have an advanced constitution because of his origins, but the parvo there is not necessarily the same strain as the parvo where you are now. I think 12 weeks is the minimum age for most training classes, so that may be the same for going to work/parks/etc.

As for puppy-proofing, get down on your hands and knees to do it. Pretend the entire world is made out of candy. You'll still miss something, but it's a good start.

When he's loose, do not wear headphones or anything that might prevent you from hearing the crinkle, the rustle, the little tiny gnaw. They are relentless, it is mind-boggling what they will find and attempt to eat or destroy.

There is a school of training thought that involves being attached to your dog via leash all day every day when the dog is not in a crate. If you're able to take your dog to work, you might want to consider that as an alternative to crating at work (except for brief crate interludes) because it's a pretty fantastic training opportunity to be constantly monitoring and praising/correcting/distracting.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2013

Best answer: Oh my lord that puppy is adorable. Congratulations!

The one thing that I wish we would have done differently, that I think is common among new dog owners, is that we didn't try to deal with problem behaviors as they arise. A lot of times they think that the puppies will "outgrow" certain behaviors, which is largely false. Why would you stop doing something unless you know that you're not supposed to do it?

In our case, the 5-month old puppy we adopted had really horrible separation anxiety; because I work from home, she never got used to being on her own, and we thought it would go away. (We ended up adopting another dog and now they're both fine.) It's far easier to deal with issues that arise now than it ever will be in the future... even though that little guy is so cute the only thing I'd want to do is snuggle and hug him.
posted by blazingunicorn at 11:36 AM on February 22, 2013

I think it depends on your puppy's temperament. My dog would have found it really tough to settle in her crate if she could see me nearby. That would be a recipe for barking and whining. Is there a place in the office you can situate the crate where he would not know you are there? This may not be a big deal, other dogs may not be like mine.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:37 AM on February 22, 2013

Your plan to toilet train sounds great, taking the dog out every 2 hours sounds perfect. Just remember to take the dog out after it's eaten and to keep a similar time table at home on weekends as well, and also to praise him like mad when he does go potty outside. Go crazy with praise at first and then taper it off a bit once he's got the hang dogs really do want to be good, it just sometimes takes them a little while to figure out what you want.

Check with your vet that your puppy is OK to be with other dogs (or that all the other dogs in the office have had their shots) if it hasn't had all it's shots it might get exposed to some very nasty illnesses.

Bring lots of toys and change them up every day, and make sure there are things that the puppy is allowed to chew. Puppy kongs filled with treats are a great distraction method.

Remember that how you start out with the puppy is how it will grow up, what is cute now is not cute on a full grown dog, so if you don't want it on the couch don't let it do it now, just because it's little and cute. If you want it to learn to sit quietly at work, then find plenty of things to distract it so it learns to sit quietly, letting it get riled up and run around while it's little and cute is one thing, a full grown dog thinking it can do that is another.
posted by wwax at 11:40 AM on February 22, 2013

I had tremendous success using clicker training. Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor details the process.
posted by Silvertree at 11:40 AM on February 22, 2013

Bitter apple spray for the office! Spritz it on wires or other things he might chew on.
posted by lyra4 at 12:53 PM on February 22, 2013

Remember a puppy is a baby! not a small dog.
posted by fifilaru at 2:05 PM on February 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Remember a puppy is a baby! not a small dog.

This seems so obvious, but it is such great advice.
posted by phunniemee at 2:11 PM on February 22, 2013

Best answer: Having a crate or pen at work is the way to go to better control his environment as is your plan to take him out every two hours. When he does potty, have a command ready as he goes that you want to use going forward. You can use the same one for peeing and pooping or a different one for each. (I wish I had used two but one is fine.) And every time use you use it, give him a small treat and lots of praise. Soon, he'll understand what "go potty" means. When he turns his head to you (for his treat) after peeing/pooping, you'll know he's caught on.

Keep his initial crate or pen pretty small in the beginning so he's less likely to pee/poop in it. Don't forget to have lots of things for him to chew on, change them up, make some edible and some not. Nylabones, kongs, bully sticks, sturdy stuffed toys are all good.

Good luck with your little cutie.
posted by shoesietart at 2:13 PM on February 22, 2013

Crate or pen both at home and at work, and enroll in training immediately!
posted by radioamy at 3:13 PM on February 22, 2013

Best answer: I won't repeat any of the great advice that's been posted, but I will second (and third) the baby comment. If your puppy is anything like my new puppy, you'll get about half the work done that you normally would. My boyfriend works from home (I often do, too) and both of us find it very difficult to get much done when we are alone with the puppy. He requires near constant attention and lots of exercise. We got him one of these playpens, which we use in lieu of the crate during the day and it's been somewhat helpful in allowing us to leave him alone for a couple hours at a time, but it's still a ton of work.

Another thing that has been helpful is getting him plenty of different things to chew on. Puppies are very, very bite-y when they're teething, so tasty, chewy things are a good way to divert "bad" biting to good biting. It also helps keep them momentarily self-entertained. He loves these and dried duck feet, which are totally gross but evidently very fun to chew on (we get them at the local pet food store).
posted by a.steele at 4:29 PM on February 22, 2013

Oh, and things I wish I had known:

He will eat anything and everything in the time it takes you to wash your hands. This includes his own poop. ESPECIALLY his own poop. It cost us $140 bucks to get the vet to induce vomiting after he swallowed an earplug that my cat had knocked onto the floor. This happened right in front of me faster than I could stop it.

It's also a lot easier to preemptively wake up (by setting an alarm) in the night before he wakes up and starts whining to go potty. We used to get up twice, but we're down to once a night. Every 3-hours is a good place to start, then increase by 15 minutes every few days.

That's all I can think of right now. My pup is only 11 weeks now, so I'm still learning myself. Your little guy is adorable. Congratulations, and best of luck!
posted by a.steele at 4:46 PM on February 22, 2013

Best answer: Your plan is exactly what I did with my now 21-month old for the first 5 months of her life with me, and it worked great! A couple of things I haven't seen mentioned in this thread: Ian Dunbar's book Before ad After Getting Your Puppy was an invaluable resource for us, and I recommend transporting your pup in his crate. Our dog has only ever ridden in the car while inside her crate, and it makes everything so much easier and safer, and if the weather isn't warm where you live, you can pop him in the car if you need to have a puppy-free meeting at work without worrying that he'll ruin your car's interior.
posted by outfielder at 7:17 AM on February 23, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everyone! I marked as best answers the comments that gave me a new idea or told me something I hadn't already heard, but every single one of these answers was really great!

I'm definitely a bit nervous about having him at work, but luckily I have a pretty flexible set-up at work, so running out a few times a day or being otherwise distracted is OK as long as I get my work done well and on time.
posted by lunasol at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2013

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