How to Make the Best of the First Few Weeks

written by Kathy Stewart
Here are a few last minute thoughts that have come to mind about your new puppy.

For the first little while, while driving with the pup in the car, pretend that you have an egg on the seat beside you. If you stop quickly the egg breaks - you upset the puppy. What I mean is that you should make your stops, starts and turns slow and gradual. This will help to reduce the chances of carsickness. After a few more trips in the car, your pup will become quite used to it, and you won't have any worries. If you find he is noisy in the car, take him with you every time you go out, for short and long trips. This is the pupís way of telling you that car rides are frightening or upsetting to the stomach. The sooner he gets used to it the better.

The worse thing that you can do is to stop the car and reassure him. There is nothing like a reward for bad behavior to ensure that the behavior continues. The same goes true for crate training. If you are sure that the pup has had everything he needs (drink, food,potty and toys) then don't give him attention for acting up. Try and ignore him, if you can.

You must remember that this pup is only 8 weeks old. There are a lot of things that he has yet to experience. If you have a deck without sides, he is likely to run off the end of it, because he has no idea of distances yet. He may not have learned to go up and down stairs yet. You must teach him when the time is right for him. First, we start with going up the top three stairs. When that is mastered, we add one or two more steps, until he can master a whole stairwell. A treat (dog biscuit, or cheese) can be a great incentive to go up or down to the next step. After learning to go up then we follow the same procedure with going down. Start with the bottom two steps. When he can do those, add a couple more steps, and then more, as he gets better at it. These are just two examples, but there are many. The trick is to go slow and let him/her learn at his own pace.

There is a good likelihood that your water could cause stomach upset and/or diarrhea, because it's constitution is likely different from ours. I suggest that you start with bottled water and introduce your drinking water after that. Adding q squirt of lemon juice to your water initially will likely help.

With foods, he has likely been introduced to puppy kibble, canned meat, eggs, milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Only introduce one new food at a time. After a few days when you know his digestive system can handle that food, then introduce something else.

If for any reason the puppy growls at you, even though it may sound pretty funny coming from such a little thing, do not laugh. Instead tell him that he was a bad boy, in a low growly voice, and hold his muzzle shut. He must learn from the very start that you are the boss; and as such you can do whatever you want to him and he must be tolerant. He will eventually build his trust in you and will know that you would never do anything to hurt him.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that this little guy has only been on this earth for 8 weeks. He will have to learn right from wrong; what he is allowed to do and what he is not allowed to do. The best way to teach him is with patience, love and care. When he does something wrong, tell him, "no" and then give him (her) something positive to do. When he is doing the positive thing, give him (her) lots of praise. Keeshonden love to be praised and he will likely do it again, just for this kind of reward.

For example, if he goes potty in the house and if you catch him doing it, give a deep growl "no" at him and then clean it up without saying anything more. But when he whines to let you know he has to go, and you get him outside in time, give him lots of praise, in a high pitch voice, so that he understands that this is what you want of him.

Another example, if he is chewing (believe me Ė all puppies chew) on your curtains and you catch him, hold his muzzle gently but firmly, and growl, "no." Then give him one of his toys to play with and tell him what a good boy/girl he is. Always try and end your corrections on a positive note. That will help him to become a well- adjusted little dog.

The time you spend with him in the next two months, and the way it is spent, will help determine how your puppy will turn out as an adult. You can almost mold him into what you want him to be. If he is taken to many different places and given many new, positive experiences, he will turn out to be a well adjusted, easy-to-live-with adult.

Again, because of his age, his bodily functions do not allow him to make it through the night without going to the bathroom. It might be wise for you to set your alarm and take him out once during the night for the next two or three weeks. Some people put the dog crate in their bedroom at night, so that if the pup wakes up, they will know and will be able to take him outside right away.

He will sing for the first few nights. He has been taken away from his mother and littermates. He is in a strange environment with people that are strangers. You would be upset under those circumstances as well. If you cannot tolerate the sound, put him in his crate as far away from the bedrooms as possible. I find it easier to tolerate the crying during the day, so I make sure that when the pup is sleeping during the day, he is put in his crate with the door closed. When he wakes up, he will tell me that he has to go potty, and then we can make a quick trip outside. That way, everybody is happy. After he has gone potty outdoors, then he can have a good playtime indoors before he has to go back in his crate.

His crate will become his bed (crib) for now. It will keep him out of harmís way. It will teach him to tell you when he needs to go outside. He is likely to keep it clean. This all makes for a positive atmosphere that is so important in this stage of their development. A person who puts a dog in a large room and expects him to be clean is not being realistic and is sure to be disappointed. The puppy will go potty and then run through it spreading it all around. He will get bored and chew on things that you don't want chewed. Not only that, but he could harm himself (i.e., eat poisonous plants).

You will need to child proof (puppy proof) your home for a while. Make sure that the pup cannot find electrical cords to chew on. Tie up your cloth curtains so that they are not within reach. Make sure he cannot reach any plants. Put up anything that is accessible and can be broken. Make sure that you have a bottle of Bitter Apple handy to spray on any areas that he has decided might be good to chew on. These could include things like corners of cupboards, drywall, and floor mats. We consider our dogs to be puppies until they are two years old. Usually by then they have a good understanding of what they can and cannot do. Until then, we never leave them unattended where they could do damage to themselves or other things.

A good example of this was with Muffin, our first dog. She was a wonderful dog and was not destructive. When she was 8 months old I went out for three evenings in a row, leaving her by herself. When I came home she had chewed the stuffing out of the arm of our armchair. She had chewed two of the cushions on our sofa. She had had almost chewed through one of the coffee table legs. I had been out of the house for two hours and when I came in there was stuffing all over the living room floor. I was so mad; I thought I would kill her. I put her in her crate for the first time in 5 months and left her there. It was her way of telling me that she was bored and annoyed with me that I had left her alone. After 2 hours and well over $1,000.00 damage, I learned the hard way, not to trust a puppy. Please learn by my experience and save yourself the heartache and money.

While your puppy has been paper trained at our home, I do not recommend that you continue on with this. It is best to show him, right from the beginning, that there is only one place to go potty and that is outside. Now this can only happen if you are there during the day to let him in and out. A puppy cannot hold himself for more than 3 hours at this age. To expect him to do so would be unreasonable.

If you take him outside, to the same place every time, he will continue to go potty in that area. It certainly makes it easier when it becomes time to clean up the yard. I have known some people who have made a 3-sided, fenced enclosure, filled with gravel, which has become the dog's potty area. The rest of the area is grass and the dog knows not to go on the grass.

For the next couple of days, one of the things I suggest you do, keep track of the time when your puppy eliminates. It will help you to understand what times you will need to put him out, thereby helping to reduce the number of accidents in the house. By the same token, remember that your pup will have accidents, so try and keep him on floors that can be easily cleaned. If the smell remains he will continually want to go back to that spot to go potty.

In the end, this can be made into a very pleasurable time for both you and the puppy if you will follow some of my suggestions. If you have any questions or concerns I am always available to answer your questions. No question is stupid. We can all gain by the experiences of other people.

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Kathy and Bruce Stewart
Summer location: Alberta, Canada
Home phone: (780) 987-4456
....................... Winter location: Arizona, U.S.A.
Cell Phone: (780) 718-5940

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