Friday, July 31, 2015

New Puppy Series - Day One

Hi folks, as some of you know I am out of town this summer, but have several people who have new puppies coming home.  As a result there are a lot of emails going back and forth as I help these new clients until I can meet with them.  I have decided to share their experiences with a series of posts that detail the back and forth communications we are having, with the hopes that it will help others having similar issues along the way.  Here is the first in my new series about new puppies.

Day one with a new puppy. - Crating Issues

I have a question - we brought the puppy home and she is only 7 weeks old.  She has never been in a crate before.  I gave her a few treats in the crate to entice her into it but she has no desire to be in there.  At this stage what do you recommend?  We tuckered her out and tried to put her in and she wailed and howled for about 15 minutes.  I got her to calm down and then took her out to try and have her go the bathroom, which she has not done.  We picked her up at 10:30 and she has not peed since.   She finally fell asleep in my daughter's arms.  I am curious as to your recommendation right now.  I called our vet who said we have to let her cry it out and maybe that is what we have to do.  She is just so young and I do not want to traumatize her.  

Would appreciate your thoughts.  I have read your crate training where you suggest acclimating the puppy to the crate over several days if they have not been exposed.  However, I am curious as to where she sleeps in that scenario.

One more question - how do I leave her, if she is not in the crate?  Do we take her with us during this process?  I wish I could tell you my life can come to screaching halt, but my kids have places to be.  :))  After the next two days, things calm down a bit but they have swim practice and a swim meet tmrw night.  My older dog did not react this way to his crate so I did not consider this.  YIKES......and silly me!!!

Any suggestions you have are appreciated.

Judy's Answer:

Unfortunately, some breeders do not acclimate their puppies to the crate before they go home.  I would opt to bring the puppy with you, as much as you can.  Alternatively, you can gate off a small area in the house like a puppy proofed mud room or bathroom.  Leave the puppy's crate in there with the crate door open, as well as water and a bed.  Do NOT put down pee pads but treat the area as you would a crate, i.e. the puppy is never left in the area more than a couple of hours at a time.   One alternative for larger kitchens or open concept homes is the use an exercise pen which can be configured to look like a crate without a top, and moved to any room you have the puppy in.  Remember the size of the pen should be just big enough to hold the puppy's crate and an additional bed, so that the puppy can sleep near the crate without going in.

In addition some puppies prefer the plastic airline crates as they are cozier, you can get these inexpensively at local retail stores like Wal Mart and Target.  

Here is the section of my training manual that talks about getting puppy used to his crate.

Getting Puppy Used to His Crate

Some breeders will have already acclimated your new puppy to a crate before you get it, but if you do have a dog that is not comfortable with the crate yet the guiding word is go slow!  Start by luring the dog close to the crate with a yummy treat, toss it just inside the crate and let the dog reach in to get the treat.  Do not try to push the dog in the crate or close the door.  Walk away and repeat the process often until the dog is easily reaching in to get the treat.  Then toss the treat a little further into the crate each time, until the dog easily walks into the crate.  Remember, even when he goes all the way into the crate let him turn around and come right back out.  Repeat this process many times a day for a couple of days until the puppy happily runs into the crate in anticipation of those yummy treats!

Once he’s happily entering the crate, toss several treats or a chewy bone into the crate and begin closing the door for just a second or two while he eats his treats. Once he’s finished, let him right out.  Repeat this several times each hour.  Then begin increasing the time he stays in the crate a little bit at a time.  As you increase the time, toss a bone or a stuffed Kong into the crate to keep him busy and happy while the door is shut.  You can use meal time to feed him in his crate too.  You can also use nap time to help him become comfortable, lure your tired/sleepy puppy into the crate for his naps, shut the door to the crate and let him fall asleep.  Be sure to check on him so he can get out as soon as he wakes up!

For a dog that has had a bad experience with a crate or some rescue/shelter dogs that have a bad reaction to the crate, talk to me about the crate desensitization procedure.

Keep this routine up until your puppy understands that crate time is good time, filled with fun toys or chew bones, and a place to go when they are tired and want to get away.

There is a series of videos on You Tube showing Crate Games you can play to help this process.   Press Ctrl Click here to see crate game videos

Where to put the crate.

Locating your pup’s crate is often the key to success.  It should be in the room you use most often, but tucked off in a corner so when the pup is asleep he won’t be getting ‘his cage rattled’ by thundering hordes of kids as they stampede past.  The crate should be big enough for the pup to comfortably stand, turn around and lay down again.  Many large crates now come with dividers that can be used to make it smaller for the new pup and grow with the pup to full size. Consider draping the divider so that the pup can’t see all the empty space behind it. 

Tip:  I always recommend that new puppies sleep in a crate next to your bed, especially for the first couple of nights as they acclimate to their new home. If they stir during the night do NOT get up right away, just like people puppies will partially wake during the night and often go right back to sleep, so drop your hand down to the puppy and let them know you are there but don't jump right up!  Wait a bit to see if the puppy settles down again, if so go back to sleep, if not take the puppy out for a potty break and bring them right back to the crate for more sleep.  

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