Puppy starter guide list of Q's! Help make the guide!
SO I've gone far and wide through the puppy section, and seen that every question I have is answered quite diversely. But then I saw that certain people with similar lifestyles had entirely different methods of dealing with the same thing! So I figured, why not ask as many, if not all the questions in one thread and try to get all the basic answers at once? I know this will be helpful, I've already met my puppy that I'll be able to pick up in 4 weeks, and I know these will help me greatly!
P.S If I miss any questions, please tell me and I'll edit them in. If you find a thread answering questions, TELL ME!! I'll put them in as answers on this intial post!
I'll be perusing the puppy form extensively to find other puppy question threads & will keep adding them over the next 4 weeks.
Before picking up your puppy:
So far that's all I have!
But the list goes on! Be sure to inform me of anything I missed! So far that's all I've got in terms of questions. I'll come update this through the weeks, and try to answer my own questions with other threads, along with adding others questions & putting them in this initial post. Thanks!
I'm bringing home my first puppy in about 3 weeks and have wondered all of these same questions. I hope some of the more experienced owners can give you some good answers!
I went through and tried to answer one by one. Good luck
Richwood Work Hard Play Harder
Last edited by nolefan; 11-26-2012 at 09:12 AM.
Snacks: What snacks to get as the puppy ages? Such as boiled carrots.High value training treats can be tiny bits of cheese or left over meat from your dinner. Very tiny bits. high value treats reinforce a behavior that is important to you, such as puppy going potty outside. Puppies don't really need snacks, discuss the feeding schedule with your breeder and your vet and make it work with your family schedule. You can also measure out the puppy food into baggies and use the kibble as a reward for any good behavior your want to enforce. Walking on the leash should start right away, everytime he takes a step with you praise in a happy voice and reward with kibble. Sit on the floor and hand feed your puppy also to enforce the idea that you aren't a threat to take his food and all good things come from you
I really like everything Nolefan has said but especially this. For potty training I would reward right at the spot with really high value treats. I would use the puppy's kibble (measured out so the pup isn't getting more than needed in it's daily intake) when training at home. There really isn't a need to give something that is a high reward in a low distraction place which our homes are. Those high rewards should be reserved for in places of high distraction and potty training when our pups are young.
I am also all for confining the puppy to an x-pen or behind a baby gate in a safe zone when you cannot keep both eyes on the pup. If they are in the safe zone they cannot have the opportunity to learn bad habits that you will have to fix later. This doesn't mean be lazy and keep the puppy in the safe zone as much as possible. It means that you must schedule lots of time to spend with your pup supervising and training good house manners by rewarding for all good choices your puppy makes when out of the safe zone.
Another thing I think puppy owners should know. It takes at least 500 successful repetitions of practicing a behavior cue for a dog to really own it. (know it) Most puppy owners think that their puppy's know the cues they teach after a day or two. It just isn't so. It just isn't fair to punish a puppy that really doesn't know a cue. We as owners need lots of patience.
Helie and Luke
A Dog Is A Life Time Commitment
I'll try to help - one thing though is some of my answers will be pretty much an "individual choice" type of thing.
Before picking up your puppy:
What do I do before picking up the puppy?
Check your banking account and make sure you can afford the puppy price, but also make sure there is $200-1000 extra either in the bank or incoming (you have a steady job and can guarantee $200 towards the puppy shots, vet care, etc).
MONTHS AHEAD - Locate a puppy class location and do all your scoping out ahead of time. Do not leave this for last minute. Puppy classes fill up fast.
To my house? (such as make confined areas for puppy (gates & crate/bed area, spraying areas with bitter apple to bite proof things, etc.)
Mainly make sure you have at least 1 baby gate to block off stairways or entrances (if you have the pup loose in the kitchen with you and your house like mine doesn't have doors to the kitchen, living room, or family room).
Identify those rooms that you are going to let the puppy loose in - generally tiled or concrete floor places are BEST.
Proof the floor and anything that would be within the pup's reach. Pick up anything you don't want chewed on. Secure cords and wires.
If you are going to let the puppy get up on furniture (beds, couches), invest in a step or use something to use for that purpose. The pup needs to have a safe way to get up and off the furniture. You do not want them jumping.
I think it's gross spraying everything with bitter apple so I generally would limit that use to what is absolutely necessary - like wires. <- I have never had to do this for puppies, but my sister has a cat who loves shocking himself and chews up every wire he can get his mouth on.
Items to pick up? (Such as bed, chew toys, food (brands?), etc. Ref. Flying Quizini)
Bed - make sure it doesn't have little pieces inside of it. Fluff or sponge stuffing is best. Bean bags or those kernal type beds get ripped into and either cause problems for the puppy EATING it, or it makes a big mess.
Chews - At least one durable nylabone. Those puppy sized nylabones are a waste of money since goldens grow so fast. I also like himalayan cheese sticks. They are hard and very difficult for the puppy to chew pieces off.
Travel Crate - for the car. This was a hard sell for me maybe a couple months ago, but I absolutely understand the awsomeness now. No wiggling or scampering around in the car for puppykins.
Food - You are best off sticking with the same dog food the breeder has been feeding the puppies for the next 1-2 months. Wait until they are settled in and fo sure past the stressed out stage before gradually switching to a new food, if you do. Discuss with the breeder AHEAD of time and pick up a bag of what they feed from the store.
Storage container for the food - Best to keep the food in a bag to conserve the kibble (it goes dry/stale). And keep the bag in a container big enough to hold it. <- That's a garbage can if you have the big 30lb bags. Or just a neat container that fits in the pantry if you just buy the 15lb bags.
Toys - You want stuffies big enough for them to cuddle with, stuffies small enough for them to carry around, hard or nobby toys for them to chew on (they have puppy rattles that are awesome), crackly toys they can carry around and play with (I actually just picked up larger cat toys), rope toys (watch because they DO try eating the threads, but these are great for them to chew on). And even those latex/rubber toys that they can't chew through (not the thin latex/vinyl type) - I have for my older golden and the puppy and they last forever.
Food dishes - I use cereal bowls for my guy's food because they are easy to keep clean and I wash after every meal so there is no bacteria buildup. My puppy prefers drinking out of a smaller bowl for some reason. Took me half a day to realize that the reason why he wasn't drinking was because he didn't like the big salad bowl sized bowl the big dogs drink out of. These are things to plan ahead....
Mindset to come in with? (prepare for whining in crate during late nights, etc.)
Recognize that puppies need patience, training, and a open mind as far as dealing with dog fur and smells.
I was laughing about this after 3 days... my bedroom smells like puppy breath to me. It doesn't bother me, but it probably WOULD bother somebody who hasn't been around too many dogs. They must go in realizing their houses are going to smell like dog.
After getting the puppy
Feed: (Such as 2 cups of dry kibble a day, 4x a day.) Brand ratings/health
Discuss with the breeder. Ask for a written schedule for feedings. You will probably start with 3 meals a day (first thing in the morning, lunch, and then supper). My pup's breeder told me as much food as the puppy will eat in 5 minutes - er, but I generally put down 3/4 cup of kibble per feeding.
Puppy Food, or all ages food?
Large breed puppy is probably best - I think it's lower protein levels? That said, I would still stick with what the breeder has been feeding for at least a month.
Potty train (Such as day 1: bring puppy to area of elimination and pick/encourage elimination in those areas after eating/drinking food)
Keeping in mind that you WILL be taking the puppy out for potty in the middle of the night or even at times when you want the pup to go on command - train commands right from the start.
I have "go duty" (pee) and "go poopy" (obvious) commands. It doesn't have to be those commands, but whatever commands you DO use, you must get with everyone who will be walking the puppy out for potty and you have to stay uniform on the commands. And you absolutely must mark/praise/reinforce those commands the instant the puppy does what you want. "Good duty" or "Good poopy".
The result is you will be getting up at 3 in the morning to take the puppy out for potty, and be back inside in less than 2 minutes because the puppy knows what those commands mean. <- My pup took about a day and a half for him to connect the dots.
Crate Train (Such as Day 1: Place puppy in crate during sleep time and try to ignore the whimpering until it stops, but don't ignore them if they happen to cry [x minutes/hours] later.
No help there. I will never use crates for this purpose.
Snacks: What snacks to get as the puppy ages? Such as boiled carrots
I don't give snacks. Ever.
All treats are given for something the puppy does. Nothing in life is free. He has to EARN the treats. <- and while they are younger than 12 weeks, I stick to their kibble and bread, because it doesn't take much for them to get sick.
If you are picking out treats for puppy classes (when the pup is 12+ weeks), look for small or easy to tear apart. And something the puppy can eat very quickly.
Chew toys/age: Such as Nylabone during 12-15 weeks during teething period.
Teething can start early - as I discovered with my 10 week old who is chewing on everything he can fit his mouth on.
I would avoid anything that the puppy can easily chew pieces off and eat. No greenies, rawhide, etc.
Car training: how do you transport your dog? How do you get them used to being in the back seat & not the front if you don't use a kennel/SUV Cage.
Confession: I have the travel crate in the front seat. I did this because I want the puppy to be able to see me and be comfortable. You want to be able to hook the seat belt to the crate to keep it from flying or moving around too much on stops.
Down the road when my puppy is bigger, the crate will probably be shifted to the back seat, or I will simply buckle him in (harness). I haven't thought that far ahead.
Go for as many car rides as possible to get them used to being in the car. Keep it positive and rewarding for them.
Propertly Line training: How to train your puppy to not go past your property line
I do not do too much of this early on while the puppies are still in the velcro stage. The only thing I do at this point is having a visual border (for myself and the puppy) that I do not let the puppy cross without a "release word".
As the puppy gets older, I will start walking the border on a 6 foot leash. Every time the puppy moves toward me and the yard, I reward. Every time he moves towards that line (remember that visual border), then I'm saying "no" and guiding him back into the yard. <- I use pop corrections, but do not advise just anyone to use what they "think" is a pop correction.
Over time, I will switch to a long line and start putting more space between me and the dog while walking the border. And the idea is to let them make the wrong choices so they can be corrected. If you are walking them on a tight lead along the border the entire time, the dog is not learning anything.
Freedom is earned, and even then responsible owners need to remember that dogs are not robots. They will widen borders or take advantage... or they will even chase things beyond their border - this despite knowing their borders VERY WELL. So unless you have a physical fence, you need to be on the ball and ready to chase down your dog the instance they cross the line.
Door training: How to train your puppy not to immediately run inside/outside on his/her own agenda. How to train them to request permission.
Dogs are animals. They do not request anything.
When they are puppies, I will start prepping them by putting them in a sit and literally holding them there while I open the door and take a step before I say "OK" and encourage them to follow.
When I've trained a "wait" command (later on), I will use that.
Furniture training: How to train them to get off of it. How to train them to require permission to get on?
I've never bothered. I like my dogs to cuddle with me.
I do train "off" and "hup" depending on whether I'm inviting a dog up or asking them to get off. The word needs to be used in connection with an action (physically guiding the dog off) and rewarding/marking the instant you get the result you want.
Social Training: how to train your pup not to jump on people
I train "off". This is either me taking the pup by the collar and physically guiding him back to the floor, or if the dog is happily jumping on me when I don't want them to, I will take their toes and do gentle pressure (nothing that would make the dogs yelp or squeak) while saying off. The instant the toes are pulled away, you praise/mark the action and reward.
Biting: How to train your puppy not to bite people.
Physically remove the biting mouth from whatever they are biting and say "no bite" in a firm tone. Give them something to chew on. Generally biting is either a play thing or it's an expression of excitement.
If the pup's hyped up, easiest way to stop the biting is to calm them down and gently get them to settle. No yelling, shaking, spraying, etc needed.
Car chasing: How would you prevent them chasing cars/people/dogs?
I assume my dog will chase moving objects and I keep them on leash or call them to come.
Bed time! How to train them to become accustomed to going to their bed at bed time, instead of waiting for them to tire out & then placing them there.
Have a set daily routine. Honestly, it's been a long time since I've only had one dog, so I don't remember what we did when we just had the one? The dogs copy each other similar to what puppies in a litter would.
So generally my puppy goes to bed the same time his big brother does. If he's up and playing - I actually don't mind him playing by himself. So if my pup is still bouncing around and playing with his toys and having imaginary battles with them (yes, he does), I ignore him and let him carry on until he settles down. I generally turn the light off around the time he's starting to go lay down with his brother. Over time, he connected the light being off with him needing to be quiet and sleep.
Night time! How to help build habits for consistent sleeping or alerting you when it's potty time?
Owner needs to mark and reinforce those "alerts" or "signals" that the puppy offers. And they need to be ready to drop everything they are doing to take the puppy out.
Case in point, my puppy after 3 days is looking at me and squeaking when he wants to go outside. This is because right from day one, every time he offered that particular behavior I was popping up and saying "you have to go duty? Let's go!" and rushing him outside.
Potty Door! How do you train your puppy to stay at the door when he has to go?
Same as above. Every time your puppy goes near that door, YOU have to mark/reinforce.
Cuddling: Is there any way to build cuddling habits?
Yes, and no.
Some puppies are too busy to be cuddlers. And I think too that sometimes we people have a different idea of what feels nice as far as cuddling.
One thing I have been reminding family members is keep it quick early on. You don't want a puppy looking at you like that limpetty limpet who grabs them and just won't let go! That's when you get exasperated nipping and even growling habits developing.
Hug them quick and release after a few seconds and let them go.
And when your dogs come up to lean on you or curl up with you - that's cuddling in their minds. Encourage that by letting them. Don't push them away or correct them. I like the fact that every single one of my animals - even our cat - like some part of their bodies to be in contact with us.
Grooming: How often should you bathe, nail cut, defurinate (Brush/rake), and get haircuts? Seasonal changes to habits?
As much as necessary.
Goldens need minimal grooming. You are talking about using a simple brush once or twice a week. There is minimal trims that can be done, but they aren't necessary.
I actually don't bother too much with the fluffy puppy coat beyond brushing burrs and things out. It will be shedded.
Visiting the vets? How often?
Puppies need to go in every 3 weeks for their series of shots. And then they need a booster at 12 months.
Beyond that you SHOULD go once a year for a physical, and you need to go once a year anyway for whatever shots they need as well as the yearly heartworm test.
And beyond THAT, you are looking as needed. Have a vet you trust and be in contact with them over every question you have. There will be questions. Not all of them need a visit.
Cleaning: How to clean your puppy's teeth (won't stand still for brushing). How to clean your dog's ears to prevent growth of things that shouldn't grow?
You really need to develop good grooming behaviors with your dogs. Use treats as rewards when you are done, etc. Cleaning ears and brushing teeth and brushing coats etc - these things need to be done on a weekly basis. Gently, positive, and reward always.
Praise training: How to train your dog with praise or their kibble? & how often should you train?
I praise/mark every behavior I like and want to encourage. You are not going to be babbling your head off, but little things like your dog looking up at you "good watch" and huggle-pat your dog while you break eye contact. If the dog is walking nicely at your side - you are going to pat them on the head or back and praise them for walking nicely. So forth.
Train with both praise and food. So ask for sit, get a sit, praise the sit and immediately reward. So forth.
Food is never just given to the dogs. I always ask for something first - like a sit or a down (very basic commands and simple to teach).
Training is nonstop when they are little. Even if you aren't training commands to your puppy, you are training and reinforcing good behaviors or even little things like "give" or "spit" (train puppies to drop things immediately even when you are a couple feet away).
I train several times a day when I'm home all day (weekends). Now I'm back working, I trained a little this morning and will train a few times this evening and before bedtime.
Formal training sessions are only 1-5 minutes max when they are puppies. You want at least 10-20 minutes total formal training in a day - so multiple sessions.
Away: How to train your puppy to have healthier habits for when you don't have time to interact with them. Such as if you go to work or the store, how do you build healthy habits for them to entertain themselves and not destroy your furniture?
Training dogs to make "good choices" when you aren't home is impossible. I prefer dogs to sleep and be quiet when I'm not home. And this is best done by putting the dogs in their crates or leaving them in a thoroughly proofed (nothing the dogs can get into) room.
Leash training/walking: What age should you begin to walk your dog? How do you leash train/deal with various issues, such as walking ahead of you or refusing to walk at all?
Leash training starts immediately. Puppies may play off leash while still in the velcro stage, but they must immediately start learning how to potty train while on leash.
I do not see walking ahead as an issue. Training loose lead walking at my side is something I will do seperately and attached a command to. Any commands you give need to be followed through by you. And my opinion is it's unfair to ask a dog to perfectly heel through an entire walk. I'd prefer to train and reinforce that behavior when we are in stores or at the vet or in places where I want my dog to be close and under control.
Refusing to walk at all indicates a health issue or a possibility that you are over-exercising the dog and not making that walk as rewarding as it should be.
Is crating necessary?
No. It is preferable in various cases when you may want your dog crated (at the vet, in the car, at dog shows, or at dog class when you may have multiple dogs entered in the class, etc).
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