The first 30 days
The best time to bring a new puppy into your and your families life is when you or whom ever will be the main parent/alpha dog has lots of time to devote at least two weeks of high attention. Your new dog/puppy does not know you or your family. The rule of thumb is it will take approximately 30 days for your new kid to bond with you and your family. For the the first 72 hours the puppy should have a charmed experience free of mistakes, his and yours even when they happen. Everything is happy happy and good. Set the first few weeks up for success by following the outline below.
Your new kid does not know you or your family! Keep the process at their pace. Imagine being a 4 year old thrown into a new environment and being bombarded by people, sounds, smells etc. That's your puppy. If you have children set the rules and expectations up first before the puppy comes home. Nothing should rush up to the puppy... person or animal. Always let the puppy come to you/them. Use any tricks you like, treats, baby talk, whatever. If the dog does not approach you/them, don't worry, he/she will, don't rush. Never force people or other pets on the puppy, Remember happy happy charmed. No major experience's the first 72 hours at least. That includes bathing. If you there is an accident on the way home and your puppy is messy a warm damp towel to get a quick spit shine, and that's if it cant wait.
Keep the tone charmed. For the first 72 hours the puppy or dog can do no harm. No matter what he/she does. Keep the NO to a no. Calm and easy is the way to go for the first 72.
Children and other pets should not be left alone with your new kid until everyone has bonded. Especially important with older dogs. If you have to be away from your puppy or new dog they should be secured until you return.
Essential! Part of ensuring the safety and ease of transition into your new family requires a safe and comfortable den for your new family member. A happy life for everyone starts here. Get the size they will grow into, our shepherds are big, so the largest size is the best. Try and get one with a partition that you can size or remove as the grow. Used is ok, try craigslist or the paper for a quality metal crate. Clean and sanitize any hand me downs thoroughly. Quick wipe and sanitize any new cages as well. We start puppy's crate training and in most cases they will prefer the crate when left alone or when time for sleep.
Whenever you must leave him/her alone, secure them in a crate. until the bond is complete, and the dog becomes comfortable with its surroundings. The puppy must sleep in the crate at night. The crate can be put wherever you want. During the first few times in the crate a puppy may cry and or want out. Never let them out while crying wait for a pause in the crying to let him/her out when its time. Learn the I need attention cry and the boy do I have to take a leek cry as soon as you can, they are different. If the puppy continues to cry during the first 72 find a safe quiet place to put the crate to muffle the cry's, like a spare room or garage during sleeping hours.
If younger friends or family members come into the house, be sure to secure the dog for the first 72, this time is your time. Remember, no one should force themselves on the puppy, including friends and family visitors, after 72. Let the dog approach when it wants to be petted. If you are going to have several friends over, and any events or noise, put the dog away.
When its time to come out, do not reach into the crate and try to grab your puppy/dog if they get freighted. There are not bonded yet. Its ok. Open the door and let them exit and come to you. Food or toy or calm baby talk if necessary can be used to get them out and to you. Everything must be positive and charmed. Before getting into the crate and immediately upon exiting its potty time, once puppy comes out to you pick them up and it's out to the potty spot. Later on , once out of crate equals potty in their mind, you can walk them directly out.
Our older puppies and dogs are raised outdoors and prefer to do the business there. Newborns are raised in the house and begin training on potty time as soon as they are able to walk with ease. Pick a spot where you will want them go. Make sure everyone's does everything alike same spot, same tone, same words & same time. In the begining potty time is every two hours when out of the crate or as necessary. Every time after eating and horseplay, straight to the facilities. Puppy's should be taken to and placed in the potty spot. After a few trips you can have them follow you to the spot.
When you get them home start with potty training go right to the spot that's pre chosen. Stay there and let them smell around and hopefully do some business. Our puppy's and dogs are trained on "potty potty" Set them down in the spot and repeat with soft happy tones "potty potty" over and over until they do. When they do, Praise potty like their producing Gold Nuggets! Say "good potty, good potty" over and over. Dogs know inflection use it. If your neighbor is watching and or listening and does not think you should be on medicine your doing it wrong.
Playing, feeding and spending as much time as you can with your new puppy is the best way to seal the deal on the bond. Do not try and force your puppy to do anything for the first four weeks. The positive reinforcement method works the best. Have the dog do what you want by using food rewards and praise and be consistent. Your dog will react to this method in short time.
During the first 72 an accident in the house is almost guaranteed as everyone is learning. If this happens don't yell NO! as its happening you both made a mistake. Pick it up if its solid, take puppy out to the potty spot, place the said nugget and praise the puppy for potty. No corrections during the first 72 hours. After the first 72 keep the corrections to a minimum and very very light. Careful on your tone and volume and inflection. Use no instead of NO! This will be the formula for the first 30 days. All corrections from 7-12 weeks will be in the form of gentle scolding, and then only when necessary. Shouting in any form during this period can be detrimental, DO NOT SHOUT. After 72 you need to begin to impose mild restrictions on your puppy. Like no chewing on shoes or cords etc. Its very important to set the mild rules at this stage of development.
As with anything that goes into a baby's mouth, wash the be-jebbe's out of all bedding and toys before giving it to your puppy and older dogs as well. I wash everything at least twice. Toys 4 times! Formaldehyde, dyes & chemical agents in manufacturing, get them out in the wash not in your puppy's mouth. No rawhide chews for pups, and many say for older dogs as well. Although I have never had an issue but have never been a big fan. Careful on size of toys and things that can be chewed off, choke dangers.
What's for dinner:
Our puppies are fed three wet meal's a day in a bowl and all they can get on tap from mom.. For the first 72 take turns feeding the dog. Have each family member take the food bowl to the dog, put it down. Always keep the food and water for the dog in the same place. I prefer to let my puppies have as much as they want to eat anytime, with two main meals till about 8 months or to plumpy. So for me kibble in a bowl 24/7 and two main meals with as much raw as you can introduce. Gradually discontinue the puppy food by phase out slowly introducing more regular adult kibble at 4 months. Main meal's is at dinner time and breakfast these should be a wet meal. Gravy wet and raw mix with kibble. If you have a family mixing in raw is easier then you think. I keep a tupper of raw in the fridge. In goes all the stuff you normally throw out. Kids don't like the skin and a thigh on the Chicken, great peel off raw throw in the tupper. Same goes for all the juice from the chicken including the neck bones and all the extra goodies in side etc.
Canned tuna and chicken water in the tupper not in the sink. Big London broil for dinner carve them a small section before you cook or season. Use this stuff for your main wet meals. Add a dollop of some plain yogurt and a egg often. Good for digestion, heart, hair and bones. For puppies start slow and increase. Consider switching to raw as your main diet. Packaged and dried food no matter how much you spend is not as good as lots of raw or pure raw in my opinion.
BHA & BHT as preservatives should be avoided like the plague. The expensive stuff and the healthy stuff often trick you into thinking your doing better then most. These preservatives are often added to the meat and fat products before the get to your kibble and canned food makers. Thus they do not have to add them on the label, so you have no way of knowing whether they are in there or not. Without calling and asking. Even when its says naturally preserved. So again raw if you can for most of the feedings. Nothing like quarter chicken for dinner, bones and all. OnLy RaW bOnEs. Smoked is cooked and should not be given. Figure out what's the right portion they will eat at dinner and breakfast pick it up when there done. This will teach them not be a lazy eater with these two meal's. The portion grows a bit as they do. I refridge and use the next night/morning any large portions left over.
Please, as your puppy grows keep them in the slightly thin area of weight management. Enough nutrients so their body can grow and spurt as it needs, but not much more if any. This balance act is important as it helps reduce chances of injury to joints, that can accompany being portly and a puppy. Puppy's play hard and often with no fear.
Can we go out and play yet:
Don't let your puppy jump from anything higher then the couch as he grows. That's about the max height I want any growing puppy landing. Be sensitive to force on joints while in the early and mid stages of growth. Many breeders and vets will tell you to keep jumps and long exercise to a minimum during these stages. Just like most new anything in needs to be worked into. You rip out in a new Porsche with no miles maxing it out every time you step on the gas your asking for trouble. Use the first few thousand miles as a break in before you go full throttle. Easy does it in the beginning will be better on those joints at 12 and 13.
Revised :: Socializing your puppy: By 14-16 all of their shots have had the time to maximize our puppy's immune system. We begin our schedule of vaccinations at 4 instead of 6 weeks. So our puppies are ahead of the game. Early socialization during the time period of 7-12 weeks is critical to the development of a sound adult. Emersion in meeting new people and other dogs of all size's is imperative, with a BIG CAUTION. No parks, no petco's. When your ready for your vet check keep them in a traveler or on your lap. NO nose to nose at the vets. No nose to floor at the vet. Just like hospitals most dogs like people are there because they are sick! Just like hospitals you can catch a fare share of bugs by visiting. Reduce the chance with no nose to nose the first 16. This is often hard because many, cant wait to take the puppy out and begin life. Think like a new baby, they are. Nobody parades a new baby until its time. Your time is 14-16. Friends & family with puppy safe dogs are your socialization tools for the first 45 days, the more the merrier. Puppy safe are healthy animals that are up to date on vaccines and are known to be puppy friendly.
After the first 72 charmed hours gradually begin basic training. Not the Military kind! The fun training. Very important distinction. Set the family rules before your puppy comes home. No couch equals no couch for everyone and that includes when the pack leader is not looking. Don't teach/let your puppy do anything you don't want him to do later on in his life. Consistency is your best friend here!! These dogs NEED direction from you and the pack leader. You are the BOSS... , pack leader, when you say something it gets done one way or another after the charmed hours and an easy first two weeks. A smart leader will make follow through mandatory. If you say lay down and they know what you are saying but don't, after you have bonded, get up off the couch chair or bed and put them where they where told. Never mean, not angry, not forceful, just firm. Ever seen Super Nanny great dog training, works on kids to. When they do what there told by voice command or physical direction praise like crazy "GOOD Lay down, good lay down" Inflection is key. Make it the same happy tone even if you had to get and help them do the right thing.
My dogs smarter then yours:
Your dog is way smarter then you think. They can have a crazy vocabulary. The most amazing animals I have ever had, and anyone who knows me, knows I have had many, taught me their tricks, I just gave them the name for it. This is the million dollar training secret. Give everything a name right from the get go. Use the same name every time. House is house. Not home once house the next. Say it tell they get it. Most trainer experts say 30 times until it correlates. When your dog backs up for any reason say "back, good back" rolls over to rest "roll good roll", stretches "stretch good stretch" Go crazy with it. The name or action does not matter consistency does however. Every fun trick you could imagine one of my dogs has taught me how to do it, I just give it the name. I had a dog that loved the long stretch, when he was done he put his head on his paws with his butt in the air, I called it "pray good pray" Later I would say pray and down he went, and I was an amazing trainer, don't tell anyone I cheated. Give every action a name and you will have puppy teaching you all kinds of trick's.
The next part of the secret is when your puppy does whatever its suppose to, use your voice to mark that split second with the right action. If you tell your puppy to sit when the butt touches the ground mark it with a happy "good" or "yes" as I use. Try and make the timing perfect. You can still use treats but your hand cant get to the puppy in time for a perfect mark. Use the yes as the mark so they know the split second, they did your name/command right.
Don't do that
Don't let your dog sleep out of his crate or off leash attach them to your bed or arm for the first 2 weeks. Potty before entering the crate or sleep, potty upon existing/awaking. After the first 2 weeks they are well on their way to potty success. Some will now allow them to have one in one out, alternating nights. For me and my kids they are very comfortable sleeping in their den, so they do. Often I will leave the door open and let them choose.
Never, ever leave your dog loose or unattended in the house for the first 2 weeks. When you leave the dog, potty then crate him/her. If you plan on leaving the dog in the house unattended start leaving him unattended for short periods of time and slowly extend the time once he is finished with his training, and only after the first 2 weeks.
Easy on obedience work until after the first 2 weeks. Name everything from the start, but no real training tell after the first 2 weeks. Stuff like calling the puppy and giving them a treat for coming to you is fine. Sit, down, fetch and no, all good as well, But no corrections. Real training for clarification, will be defined here, as anything that might require a mild correction.
If you are having a problem or even think you are having a problem, please contact me right away. As you learned when we first spoke, I love talking about my kids, that's includes the grand kids!! There is no such thing as a stupid question, not sure about something, call me, if I don't know, I'll find someone who does. I will update this with new thoughts as they come.