What You Need to Know For the First Eight Weeks
By Roman Gottfried Illustrations Sean Hoy
Puppies are delightful beings. They’re funny, ridiculous, and it’s a joy to watch them explore the world. They all start as adorable little fluff balls, even the ones that will grow up to be twice your weight.
The key to good puppy parenting is being prepared and having a few tricks in your toolbox that will help you raise a healthy, happy, well- behaved dog.
A guide to puppy parenting:
What You’ll Need Before Your Puppy Comes Home
- Puppy playpen
- Collar and ID
- Seat restraint or transport crate
- Treat bag with clicker, treats, and poop bags
- Tracking lead
- Natural chew toys
- Healthy fetch and tug toys
- Grooming tools
- Food and bowls
- Natural house cleaning supplies
Puppy Proof Your Home
Clear all surfaces, from the floors to tables and countertops, from any potential danger like medications, food, cords, and anything the puppy might eat or chew. Remember, what’s on the floor WILL go in his mouth.
If kids are involved, make sure everyone is on the same page. Socks, cables, toys, shoes, paper, sweets,….. everything has to be put away. Parents should always oversee kids when they are with the puppy.
Have Rules and Responsibilities in Place
When the puppy arrives everyone will be excited, so be proactive and delegate before he comes home. Here are a few things to consider:
- Where the puppy will sleep
- Rooms and furniture the puppy can access
- Where he will be during the day or when no one is home
- Puppy potty schedule/duties (every two hours the first month)
- Feeding responsibilities (puppies eat four times a day until they are six months old)
- What games are suitable and safe for the puppy
Who is Ultimately Responsible for the Puppy?
Even though a puppy is part of the family, only one adult person should be primarily responsible. The rest of the family has secondary custody.
Eight Week House Training Program
Week 1: Imprinting and Routines
Your puppy acclimates and learns the routines and schedule of your family. He meets all family members and starts bonding. The puppy learns his sleeping/feeding/potty schedule, and creates a parenting relationship with one member of the family. Keep you puppy crated when you can’t pay attention to him.
Week 2: Adjustment Period
The puppy learns to follow his trusted partner, learns games, and associates his name and some basic commands with food and fun. His potty breaks start stretching, his crate time is consistent, and his sleeping time is still 18-20 hours a day. Teach him to jingle a hanging door so you know when there’s a potty emergency.
Week 3: Exploration and Safety
You’ve established a relationship by this time and are ready to take the personal care seriously. Teach the puppy how to be groomed by getting him comfortable with nail clipping and ear cleaning. This is also a good time for him to learn leash manners in the house and in the yard. The crate is still his bedroom and entertainment studio.
Your puppy should be potty trained by now. He can handle around two hours of interaction and play with family. He still sleeps in the crate at night, but also rests in playpen during the day. If he still shows signs of separation anxiety, you may want to consult a behaviorist.
Week 4: Socialize with people at home (strangers and friends)
Visitors can be part of the social training, teaching the puppy how to greet and play without jumping and biting.
Week 5-8: Free during the day, crate during the night
Nail clipping, ear cleaning, walking, and veterinary visits should be no problem. Now it’s time to start your puppy on basic obedience.
Roman Gottfried is an internationally renowned holistic dog trainer and behavior expert. He teaches dog parents, fosters, and pet professionals the holistic philosophy of dog training, both in-person and online. For more information, visit his website holisticdogtraining.org.