Written by Anna Hollisey
We'd brought our new sproker puppy home in last week's instalment, if you missed it, you can catch up here.
What should you think about before bringing home your new puppy? Do you need any kit for Day 1? Are there any things you DON’T need? And what did we learn in our first week with a new pup?
Our Oldest Daughter won the argument (as she usually does) to hold the cage on her lap as we set off to take our new puppy home. Here’s what we learned:
We borrowed one – if you have a kind neighbor or friend to lend a cage, do that. This allows you to try it out and decide whether you want to buy one.
A small puppy might be thrown around if your car goes over bumps – and a bigger puppy might be able to jump across the seat-backs and wreak havoc.
It’s not easy. But theoretically, you shouldn’t give any attention to a whimpering puppy. Praise them when they are quiet instead.
The early days don’t have to be very expensive. On that very first day, we needed:
We improvised with a cat bowl and our old dog’s bowl. You can use a saucer for food if necessary.
The breeder gave us a bag to bring home – if you don’t get a supply, find out what brand the pup’s been eating. If you want to change their food you’ll need to do that gradually.
Although our Sprocker puppy immediately decided his favorite place was next to the shoes, we’ve put down a ‘bed’ for him. But we didn’t buy a fancy dog bed! We learned from experience that puppies destroy their beds. So his first bed is actually an old microfiber duvet covered with a scruffy blanket. It’s very comfy but we won’t worry if he chews it or pees on it. (Spoiler: he did.)
Yep, you’re going to need a spare scruffy blanket for the next morning... in case of night-time pees. We have two on constant washing/drying rotation.
Once the puppy got accustomed to us over the first 24 hours, he was confident enough to start pulling on our pants-legs, arms, and hair – his way of saying “let’s play!”. We didn’t have any puppy toys on the first day. So we improvised with....
- old toilet-paper rolls
- rolled-up cardboard ‘sticks’
- ripped jeans which I tore into strips, braided, and knotted to make rope toys.
It’s tempting to spend cash on the new arrival, who of course deserves to be treated! But for now you probably don’t need:
Think about what your pup’s allowed to do in the home. Try to establish feeding times, walking times, and restful times. (I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m just saying that’s the idea!)
If you don’t want them to go upstairs (because the cat’s there and boy is she grumpy), block it off now. If you don’t want them to go on the couch, that rule starts now.
When he arrived, Louie had learned from his mum to poop in a different place than he sleeps – so he takes himself outside, mostly. When he starts sniffing around or squatting on the rug I jump up, grab him and carry him outside (even if he’s finished). We tell him to “do your business” so the neighbors don’t have to hear about his toilet training. I think a trigger word will help in the future.
Take your puppy out to the yard before you go to bed and wait for them to pee. It will help them to last through the night!
It is very difficult to ignore a whining puppy – especially on their first night. But experts agree that attending to a whining pup will encourage them to do it more. You’ll probably find a puddle of wee to clean up in the morning, but establishing a routine (including wake-up time) starts now.
If your puppy is lively (and when they’re fully vaccinated), an early morning walk is a great idea. It will be quiet outside and they can burn some energy so they’re ready to be left for a little while (useful if you’re taking kids to school etc).
There are five of us, and three are very determined, which makes every decision more complicated. The kids had lots of ideas about names and rejected all of Husband’s favorites. (Naming the dog after him would have been a bad idea.)
My criteria: mainly, a name that’s not embarrassing to yell across the beach.
Of course, the first names we came up with were the world’s most popular (Max, I’m looking at you) and our quirky suggestions (Rocky?) were vetoed by the kids, especially the self-conscious 12-year-old.
But we all liked Bailey, Marley, Louie and Indy, and slowly narrowed them down. The winner was Louie!
Here’s some stuff that we learned in our very first week with Louie the Sprocker!
Okay, that’s not news. But we forgot how much attention a young puppy needs! 6am: Louie runs around biting everyone when they wake up unless someone plays a constant game of tug-of-war with him. 7am: gets extremely bitey from tiredness and then collapses like a long sausage on the couch. This routine runs on repeat, every hour, all day, until 8pm.
Our youngest daughter is very lively and energetic, which Louie perceives as irresistible. He starts to run, leap, and bite her pants. The trainer advises us to “reward him for sitting nicely while she runs around in the background”, which seems virtually impossible to achieve right now.
Go with it, whenever possible. It’s less stressful. If puppy wants to ‘help’ open a parcel or look in the fridge, I toss him an empty juice carton or packaging and let him do it. You’re going to be tidying up more than usual.
Because we want Louie to stay calm at home while I work upstairs, we have to start leaving him alone in the kitchen for short periods. It should help to alleviate separation anxiety (which he doesn’t seem to be suffering from), although he sometimes finds things to chew in the kitchen, which is far from ideal.
Most of it is quite old and this means we’re not too distressed when he chews it. Louie is teething – if we look in his mouth we can sometimes see bleeding teeth – and the vet tells us that he’s starting to grow adult teeth. So we have to expect and understand his chewing habits, distracting him with suitable objects when possible! In the meantime, relieved that we didn’t buy a new couch yet.
When someone (er, me) gets stressed about Louie biting children or shoes that he shouldn’t, I’ve noticed that the puppy picks up on the intense energy. It doesn’t help. What DOES help is staying calm, walking (not running) and talking in a steady voice. Louie starts to learn to entertain himself, carrying his toys around or following me around the kitchen.
In his first week, Louie has eaten cat poop (yup, he managed to get upstairs) and several snails. Let me tell you, nobody wants to retrieve a naked squirming snail from their dog’s mouth.
Depending on the treatment you get from the vet, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start treating them at 8 weeks. That’s because fleas can be carried by cats, foxes, rats and hedgehogs – so they could be in your yard, even if you don’t have any other pets. You can now buy flea treatment on postal subscription – so that’s what we’ll do, since it arrives punctually in the mail and doesn’t get forgotten or neglected (oops).
If you’ve brought home a puppy, I just want to tell you that it’s stressful and you’re not alone. The “Tasmanian Devil” or “Shark teeth” phase is relentless and puppy teeth HURT! If you have kids and you have to watch them and the pup, that’s stressful too. But week by week, a routine emerges as everyone gets used to one another. After 7 days Louie can sit (for a sausage) and only bites me a few times per day (when he wants to play a game). It’s a very small improvement, but he’s going in the right direction!