How to be the most well-prepared for a puppy?
February 23, 2017 9:08 AM   Subscribe

We have about two to three months before we bring home a puppy. When you got a puppy what were the most helpful links, books, or resources you found? What is your best new puppy advice?

My partner and I are getting a puppy because I've never had one before and I would really like to experience it. We got our amazing Great Dane Luna from her previous owner at two and she was pretty much perfect from the start. We work with her on minor issues with a private trainer and I couldn't ask for a better dog. I know this new puppy isn't going to be like that from the start and I'd like to be prepared (as best as I can) for when we bring her/him home.

This puppy is going to be a Toy Poodle so any breed specific tips/tricks would be appreciated. They are coming from a local breeder with seemingly great lineage because I'd really like to have a health history.

We have a house with an unfenced yard that they would never be unattended or off-leash in (learned my lesson!) I run a non-profit and work from home 50% of the time and when I'm not working from home Luna has been coming to the office with me or going to a daycare that I trust. I don't know if that could/should change with the addition of a second dog. Maybe they'd be better served by a dog walker coming by the house?

Luna is not crated but I would like to crate the puppy. Would this be an issue?

I've already combed through the *extensive* ask.mefi questions tagged with "dog" and "puppy" and I'm looking for more resources, links, things to read or do to prepare myself for a second dog. Obviously you can never be completely prepared but I'd like to know a little bit about how to have/train a puppy before we bring one home.
posted by Marinara to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
We used this Sophia Yin book when we first got our puppy at 8 weeks and while I'd hardly say my puppy has been a perfect puppy, it was a huge help in establishing proper manners that he still abides by.

The absolutely most important thing is getting the puppy socialized as soon as you get her. All types of experiences, all types/sizes/colors of people to meet, etc. There's a ton of controversy with letting your puppy socialize before they're fully vaccinated at 4 months, but the risks of contracting a disease are so small and socialization is so, so important. Obviously I wouldn't take a tiny little unvaccinated puppy to a dog park, but there are safe ways to socialize your puppy and investing the time to do it now will pay off so much down the road.

Crate training with a puppy makes life so much easier. I wouldn't worry about having an uncrated older dog wandering the house. Little puppies sleep a ton and she will welcome down time to rest.
posted by shornco at 9:25 AM on February 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

"How to have a Well-Mannered Dog" is excellent. It's the book my dad, a veterinarian, recommended to his clients (and gave me). Besides being a vet my dad ran a pack of harriers, so had hundreds of dogs over the years.

Our dog, part minature poodle (a bit bigger than a toy), is wonderfully kind, gentle and obedient thanks to advice in that book.
posted by anadem at 9:28 AM on February 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

We found Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar to be tremendously helpful. He does have a tendency to catastrophize the potential consequences of making mistakes, but his basic approach is sound.
posted by outfielder at 9:37 AM on February 23, 2017

Start taking her to training as soon as she's vaccinated enough to be out of the house (4 months I think is the last Parvo vax?). I had a great experience with small group classes at Petco (it was $100 for 6 classes). They made a huge difference almost immediately. I think they also have free puppy socialization classes. Even if you're an experienced dog owner (which I consider myself), you'll really benefit from the structure and professional insight.
posted by radioamy at 9:43 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

shornco makes a great point about crate training. You have to watch puppies like a hawk. Baby gates can also be helpful. I think when our family dog was a puppy, we kept him in an x-pen a lot of the time so he could be around us but not get into trouble.
posted by radioamy at 9:44 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

My dog screams her head off whenever she sees a skateboard or a person in a motorcycle helmet. Why? Because she never encountered skateboards or motorcycle helmets in her first months of life. When you see advice to socialize your pup with as many different kinds of people as possible, believe it.

Also, keep in mind: a puppy is a baby. You're adopting a little baby, not a dog. I found it a lot easier to handle the behavioral issues of a pup when I put it to myself in those terms.
posted by meese at 9:46 AM on February 23, 2017 [10 favorites]

You definitely want to use a crate when you aren't watching the puppy. Start off with a crate that is a little bit bigger than the pup and go up in size as he/she gets larger. (Some crates come with an extra piece that can be used to partition the crate.) After a short time, your puppy will consider the crate his/her house. Once housetrained, leave the door open at all times and you'll find your pup in there when he/she wants to sleep. We have crates for all our dogs and sometimes find two of them snuggled together in one of the crates. Oh...and never ever ever ever (get it...never!) use the crate as punishment. It's always a safe place from the pup's point of view. Find another way to correct bad behavior.
posted by byjingo! at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please remember that your puppy is a dog and not a human being. Not that it should be mistreated of course! Dogs need to "know their place" in relation to humans, as in not jumping on people, humping them, getting too rough etc. It's in their nature to try to dominate us, and it should not be allowed.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 10:01 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding socializing the puppy to as many kinds of people and experiences as you can. I think this is especially important for house guests. This is the time to invite people over every weekend to hang out so that puppy learns to trust people, and to understand that visitors to the house are a normal thing.

In public is important too, though you must be prepared to be careful with strangers and assertive as needed. A group of kids in particular may easily crowd and overwhelm a young pup if you don't ensure otherwise.
posted by veery at 10:42 AM on February 23, 2017

Jeff-o-matics advise is a little dated as in the whole dominance idea has been laid to rest in regard to dog behaviour, but the point that your dog will look to you for how to behave & you have to start out how you intend to go on is sound. You might find this book The Puppy Primer, helpful. It uses positive training & explains the why's as well as the hows of training your dog. You might think it's too early when you look at your cute little fur bundle that will fit in your pocket, but they are looking to you for cues & information on how to handle the big scary world around them, starting early helps both you & your pup.
posted by wwax at 10:45 AM on February 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

OMG this just makes me laugh when I think of when my bluetick puppy came home. It was wonderful and horrible. I had forgotten that puppies are such high energy, and mine wore me out. I can't tell you how many times I thought about taking her back to the breeder. And this was my second coonhound pup, so go figure.

My dog hated the crate, and still does. She tore up every blanket we put in, and also scratched through the plastic floor, and howled. I know a lot of folks have success with crates, but it just didn't work. She likes to sleep with us.

Today we have the most wonderful, sweet dog. She is still demanding and high energy but we worked it out since we are the bosses. She doesn't really like that, but that is how it is. It was worth every second of insanity though.

She spends one day a week at dog day care with lots of her buddies, and that helps make her a better dog. And we have a big dog park with woods where she can run off leash, and that is good for both of us.
posted by chocolatetiara at 10:57 AM on February 23, 2017

This book, Culture Clash: A New Way of Understanding the Human-Dog Relationship was a game changing for us. I started reading it with our previous dog, but with the puppy, it made things way easier.

Primary points the authors make is that dogs are doing bad stuff to spite you, or to thwart your will, or to dominate. Instead, dogs poop on the carpet because it's there and it's soft and soft places are a good place to poop. If you yell at them when they poop inside, then they hide from you when they poop. Not because they know you don't want them to poop inside, but because they think you get freaked out when they poop.

It has been very obvious how different raising a puppy in the environment of setting the dog up to succeed has been when we compare our pup to the in-law's dog. Our girl hasn't had an accident since she was 3 months old, doesn't chew up random things, and howls only when the mailman is on her porch. The in-laws pup destroys everything in her path, never tells you when she has to go and will sneak off to do her business, and she constantly barks because that's the only way she gets any attention. We praised our dog when she went outside, ignored her when she barked at things she wasn't supposed to, never left anything out that wasn't okay for her to chew, and if she did get a hold of something she shouldn't, we just happily swapped it for the designated chew toy. This stuff works and you get a well adjust and happy pup.
posted by teleri025 at 11:50 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Be prepared for a very different dog than the one you have. Larger dogs tend to be more docile and trainable; smaller dogs more aggressive and out of control. Poodles in particular can be crazy -- we've got a big one in our neighborhood who is adorable but farking insane.

Disclaimer: not a dog owner, just a fan, just my opinions based on experience as a homeowner on everyone's dog walking route :)
posted by intermod at 12:19 PM on February 23, 2017

Came in here to nth coming up with a deliberate socialization plan. We used a checklist like this one (warning: PDF) to make sure that we hit all the bases but honestly the best thing we did was go sit outside Wal-Mart in our town 7-8 times for an hour or so each time and ask all kinds of people to handle our puppy and give him tiny bites of cheese. We didn't take him to dog parks until he was fully vaccinated, but we let him play with all our friends' vaccinated dogs (and, importantly, their careful children) and had him in a puppy playgroup as soon as he'd had his first round. It is awesome to have a dog who loves all other humans and animals, and there's a lot you can do on your end to make that happen.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:52 PM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Find some good chew toys. I didn't do that properly, and within a month I lost EVERY CORNER OF EVERY COUCH CUSHION to my pup's relentless chewing.

She's marvelously well behaved now (seriously, she's the chillest), but that puppy chewing phase transcended all normal and good behavior and should be defended against as much as possible.
posted by mochapickle at 4:50 PM on February 23, 2017

- Seconding the Ian Dunbar book.

- nthing what everyone says about socialization. Puppies have such a small window to get socialized, it's really your number one responsibility until about five months. I got some great advice here to go to a park with a puppy and a bag of kibble and get people to feed your puppy. I did that with my dog and was a delightful experience all around (on preview, similar to charmedimsure's advice).

- if you can take her to a puppy class, that's great. Good for socialization too.

- I crated my dog as a puppy and it was fine, and good for training, but he never really loved his crate so I stopped using it when he was about 7 months.

- Can you get your yard fenced, or part of it? Puppies go out so much more than adult dogs but they also can't really be trusted unleashed in an open area, even if you are right there.

Puppies are so cute and yet such a pain in the butt. Just remember she won't be a pain in the butt (or that cute!) forever.
posted by lunasol at 10:05 PM on February 23, 2017

Lots of good advice, another vote for Ian Dunbar's books and a socialisation checklist. I'm sure the breeder who will give lots of info and I found a good breed Facebook group or forum helpful too, for more breed specific issues. We used Bitter Apple spray on all non-permitted chewable surfaces and provided plenty of chews in lots of different textures, worked a treat. It is hard work getting a puppy but it's fun too, a whole different perspective on dog ownership...enjoy! :)
posted by tardigrade at 11:08 PM on February 23, 2017

Nthing the puppy class. Puppies need to be around other dogs. It not only provides socialization, but they learn from other dogs in ways they can't learn from humans. Like mouthiness - puppies explore everything with their mouths! Training books and classes will teach you how to deal with that, but I think our puppy really learned appropriate bite inhibition from playing with other dogs.

I also think classes are super important because it forces you to spend dedicated time each week working on training. It's easy to get a book and think you will implement it, but a class forces you to do the work.

You might want to call around training centers and see what kind of classes/ programs they have. I didn't learn until it was too late that one of my favorite places has special puppy daycare for pups under 6 months. The dogs get multiple puppy play timess and training sessions each day. It was only slightly more expensive than a dog walker. I've been using the program post-six months, just at a higher price. Even 1 day a week is awesome.

And it is really hard work, but so worth it! Just remember that your dog will always need attention, but it will make your life so much easier if you put in the time and training in the first year. My pup is just over a year, and while we still work on training we can see the results of his early training.
posted by donovangirl at 7:08 AM on February 24, 2017

Poodles will surprise you. I'm on number six. 1 & 2 were toys, standards after that. If you still have pick of the litter, get the one that is doing it's best to not be picked. That's the loyal smart one, aloof, watching. That's the dog that will bring you a roll of toilet paper from the cabinet under the sink of the other bathroom.

With 4, 5, & 6 I walked them around the perimeter of the rural property twice a day for a month. Pup gets distracted: just keep walking. Joggers thought I had an invisible fence. They'd chase deer right up to the line and stop and things got hilarious when the deer figured that out and started teasing the dog.

With 5 & 6, I'd learned what 3&4 taught me. So I expected them to be full partners in whatever. 5 is not spry anymore but 6 communes and consults with 5 and 5 is a sensory extension of myself. 5 wakes me up 20 minutes before trouble. 6 is getting there.

You really need breed-specific reading. Been a long time but the first two here are good. The second one digresses into poodle lore but doesn't reveal a couple of things: Poodles like the bath as warm as you do and you can punch 4 leg holes in a cloth diaper and suspend a toy-sized one in the air for grooming.

And yeah, they are crazy. One of those books says they have "a well developed sense of fun." Shut the bathroom door when you bathe.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:54 AM on February 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

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