What a week it has been! If you didn’t know, we got a puppy last Friday. I feel like we’ve already had her for months. Our little Noke (noh-kay), a 3 month German Shepherd/Akita girl. We have officially survived the first week of having a puppy (where’s the wine)! I am personally exhausted by 9pm every night. It’s a lot of work. When Chris isn’t at home, I feel like a single mother with her (kind of joking…kind of). She’s a lot of work! But at the end of the day, it’s worth it.
A few behaviors have developed with her, more nipping, more decisive walking, and better potty habits. She has been super friendly and playful with other dogs and other people which makes me feel happy. She pretty much understands the command, “Go potty.” We are slowly starting to introduce her to the cats and vice versa, and it’s going okay. It’s been a wild journey so far, and here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Be patient. Be patient, be patient, be patient. Do not lose your temper. She’s only a baby, after all. This is the biggest lesson for me and the toughest. Puppies will nip and they will nip hard because that’s what they do with their litter mates. It hurts us and we think that’s what they’re trying to do but they’re not. They just want to play. Or when they refuse to budge on walks. Take a deep breath. Remember, she’s just a baby and it’s your job to nurture her into how she should be behaving.
2. Learn the potty word fast. You don’t want to be standing outside with your fingers slowly turning to frostbite. Find a potty word (pee, papers, potty, etc.) and use it when he or she is on grass. When they do their business, give them lots of treats and say good potty. Trust me on this one!
3. Understand their mind. This connects back to #1–try to understand what they’re thinking. Although you may not be scared of the dark, your little pup could be terrified! Add strong wind and cars and she will be freaking out. Don’t yell at her if she’s jolting all over the place. Calmly take her where you know she is comfortable. After all, she is just a baby.
4. Use treats…lots of them. At this point in their life, you don’t need to be worrying about your little one getting fat. Especially not when you’re giving them plenty of play and exercise. I always have at least 5-10 treats in my pocket when we go for walks. Whenever she goes potty, she gets lots of praise and lots of treats. If she’s behaving nicely like chewing her bone or calmly relaxing, she gets treats. Sitting…treats. You get the picture.
5. Encourage more than you discourage. At their infantile stage (under 16 weeks), they aren’t going to understand “No” or strong discouragement. Instead, use lots of encouragement, like the previous point. Give tons of praise when she or he does things correctly. Don’t get upset if they mess up, simply redirect them to something else. If you raise your puppy in a positive environment, it will be a happy positive dog.
6. Take them out often. My rule is every two hours, when we can. Puppies can’t completely control their bladder muscles so when it’s coming, it’s coming. What goes in must come out. If she goes in your home, don’t scream at her. It’s your fault for not taking her out sooner. Take them out often as a precaution to fight against potty accidents.
7. Don’t yell. This again connects to point one and it’s tough. But don’t yell. It doesn’t help the situation. You yelling translates to barking for your little one. This will escalate the situation into the puppy becoming more excited or simply scared of you. You don’t want that. Stay calm. Redirect.
8. See #1. BE PATIENT. If you take one thing away from this post, make it this one. Just be patient, remain calm, take a break and just breathe. It’s really tough taking care of a baby dog, they need constant attention and TLC. And you’re their sole provider for that. Try to put all that love in your heart for each and every interaction.
So if you’re preparing for a new puppy, you can do it! It takes lots of work, but if you can put the effort in, it will be worth it. My heart melts multiple times a day over our little Spirit Princess. I know that she will turn into a wonderful dog if we keep consistent positive training. BUT YAY WE SURVIVED!! Get a puppy to stay hungry and fit!