As a dog trainer, I enjoy leading someone through the training process so that they can better enjoy their dog or evaluating a specific situation in order to solve a problem. Young puppies (eight to twenty weeks old) present slightly different challenges. Because they develop so rapidly (and are emotionally immature), our goals are shorter range and simpler than for the adolescent or adult dog. The first priority is housebreaking, and the second is surviving a very oral stage of their development with most of your stuff intact. Third in importance would be to begin to establish some basic manners.
People sometimes ask me what they need to acquire to be prepared for the arrival of their new pup. The list is short and simple:
1). A crate small enough (or one that can be partitioned) so that the pup can’t use one end for a bathroom and use the other end for a bedroom. In general, dogs do not like to pee and poop where they are confined, so this is just a way of using their natural instinct for cleanliness to begin to teach them to relieve themselves in the appropriate place—usually outdoors.
2). A flat collar and a lightweight leash to facilitate taking them in and out. Leashes are our primary training tool later on, so it’s good to get them accustomed to one sooner rather than later.
3). Three toys. Puppies, like babies, tend to be quite oral and like to have something to put in their mouth. I recommend three toys because it allows for some variety, without being so many that the dog is encouraged to think he can put everything in his mouth.
4). Separate bowls for water and food.
5). Hydrogen peroxide or Syrup of Ipecac to induce vomiting if your puppy eats something toxic.
6). Time: Puppies need to go out often and should not be expected to last an eight-hour workday in a crate. If a family member can’t be home with the dog a good deal of the day, hire a dog walker to come in mid day to play with the dog and give him a chance to relieve himself.
Also puppies are fun. You need some time to just enjoy watching them discover the world and grow up. Puppyhood doesn’t last long, so you don’t want to miss out.