What is the Breeder Doing for you?
What is the breeder doing to socialize your puppy and get it ready to come home? Most breeders these days know that the from weeks 3 to 16 your dog is most developmentally receptive to new experiences, after about 16 weeks dogs enter a fear period where loud sounds and new experiences can become sources of life long sensitivities or phobias. The more experiences the young pup has the better capable they will be later in life with dealing with change. However, there are still some who keep their dogs sequestered from the world thinking they are keeping them ‘safe’. Studies show that puppies that are socialized early (from 3 weeks of age) and exposed to different stimuli while young tend to be more flexible and capable of dealing with change when older. So ask you breeder to:
- take your puppy away from the litter and mom for a short time each day
- handle your puppy each day
- expose your puppy to many different environments
o inside and outside
o different substrates like grass, carpet, hardwood, linoleum, gravel
- take your puppy for a few car rides
- get them out to meet people
- get them familiar with a crate even if it’s just made available for them to walk in and out of in their whelping pen
Be sure to ask you breeder the following questions when you pick the dog up.
- What has the dog been eating, if possible get a couple of day’s supply of food or ask this question before you take the puppy home.
- What vaccinations has the dog gotten so far?
- When does the breeder recommend neutering? Why?
- What size crate does the breeder think the dog will need when it’s full grown?
What to do before the pup comes home?
- Research and pick a vet. Make an appointment for the pup within 48-72 hours of bringing the dog home.
- Research and visit several kennels in your area, you will eventually need one!
- Are you going to use a dog walker or send the dog to doggy daycare on those days that you can’t be there? Find that person or facility now! Ask what age the dog needs to be to come, usually it’s after their final vaccines. Make sure they require proof of vaccination!
- Find a reputable trainer in the area and sign up for puppy kindergarten! Get the puppy started as soon as possible.
- Find a puppy playgroup! Use local pet shops, vets, advertisers (like Craig’s list) and visit the area fields to find people with dogs roughly the same size and age as yours. If you can, set up playdates so your dog has friends to socialize with before they come home (make sure their vaccinations are up to date!)
- Reference the shopping list below and get some supplies – but DON’T go overboard, some pups don’t like certain types of toys so you want to find out what your dog likes with 1 or 2 samples of different toys rather than buying a bunch of one toy.
- Set up the crate and the area the dog is going to live in. Remove rugs if possible, hard floors are easier to clean!
How is the new puppy going to fit into your household? – Things to talk about and decide on with your family.
- Who’s going to be the primary caretaker of the dog?
- Who’s going to train the dog?
o How much time will you have to train?
- If kids are going to be involved how are they going to help?
- Who is going to make sure the kids do what they are supposed to?
- What are the house rules going to be?
o Is the dog going to be allowed on furniture?
o Will the puppy be allowed on the bed?
o Where will the puppy sleep?
o Will you feed the puppy table scraps?
- What is a typical day (schedule) going to look like for the dog?
- Where will the puppy be when he’s not in the crate?
o Gated off room or puppy play pen
- Will there be someone home during the day?
- Will you be using a crate for your dog?
- If so, where will the crate be kept?
o How big a crate do you need?
o Multiple crates?
- Have we puppy proofed the area?
- Have you scheduled your first vet appointment?
- When does your town require a dog to have a license?
- Get an ID tag?
- Where will the puppy go to the bathroom?
o How will you get there?
- What kind of chew toys are appropriate for puppy?
- How are you going to socialize your dog?
o Puppy’s especially need to meet and play with other pups
o Must get out to experience different things, especially in the first few weeks
Longer term questions to ask
- What are your training goals for this dog?
o Pet Manners
o Obedience, Rally
o Sport like Fly Ball, Agility or Frisbee
o Therapy Dog
- Where will you do training class?
o When will you start training?
- What type of fence will you get to keep your dog safe?
- Are you going to let the dog go upstairs eventually?
- How are you going to introduce your dog to the rest of the house?
- Will your dog have a ‘place’ to go to when visitors come over?
- Do you have visitors who do not like dogs?
- Will you need a dog groomer?
Good Skills to Have
- Patience! And understanding, remember in the beginning the puppy is a baby and doesn’t know that his teeth are sharp or that your shoes aren’t a good chew toy.
- Clicker Skills – play the light switch game
- Timing of treats.
- Dog food (same kind breeder is feeding)
- Feeding Bowls
- Leash and buckle collar – remember buy puppy size to start with.
- 3 Chew toys
- Baby Gates or Puppy Playpen
- ID Tag
- Enzyme Cleaner for puppy accidents
- Bate Bag and training treats
- Long line – 15 -20 foot line (appropriately sized to your dog) with a clip so they can run around but still be safe.
What to expect
- Yes, you will loose some sleep the first few nights.
- Puppy will be a lot of work, especially early on as you are house training.
o Think of it as a bank, first you put the money in then you reap the rewards in the years to come.