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Things to do before your new puppy arrives

December 18, 2019

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On this subject my note listed a checklist of things I’d pulled from the various books I had read:

Get her crate set up initially with a reduced size - increase the size as she grows.

Get outside toilet area set up, secured, baby proofed and cleaned.

Get her pen area set up in the kitchen.

Get baby gates setup at the top and bottom of the stairs, as well as on the kitchen door.

Fit plywood on landing spindles so she can’t fit through!

Make all electrical cables out of reach of her.

Fill gaps in the kitchen with plywood so she can’t get behind the cupboards.

Set up for night time wee sessions - torch, housecoat, slippers, keys all by the back door.

Set up for day time wee sessions - treats near to the door to reward her for doing the deed.

Decide on all the verbal cues with everyone who will be involved in training her.

Set up alarm clock schedule for night time weeing.

Put socialisation checklist up on the board.

Put verbal cues up on the board.

Basically, this mostly boils down to puppy-proofing the house. Also, feel free not to put a baby gate on your kitchen if that’s not where your puppy will live! The kitchen is the most used room in our house and that was a great recommendation in one of the books. Also, in our case, it has the bonus of having a wipeable floor - very handy!

We borrowed some baby gates and bought some gates from Amazon. These proved to be very handy and have served us well. We’ve even taken them on holiday with us! We bought extra tall gates because Betty’s breed is well known for their jumping ability.

Baby gate on kitchen

We bought her crate larger than needed and we didn’t end up making it smaller - she seemed happy to go in there as it was initially:

Betty sleeping in her cage

If you have cupboards that have bleach or other hazardous items in, you will want to secure them. We went through a few variants of cupboard child safety locks before we found these: Clippasafe. They’re easy to fit, tidy, cheap, and also an actual adult human can operate them!

Setting up for the wee sessions is essential. You and the puppy have to get into a routine straight away - start as you mean to go on! You need to make sure this is as frictionless as possible. This was definitely the least enjoyable part of life with a new puppy for us. We took turns to get up through the night. It was winter for us so that made it all the worse! Betty was 8 weeks old, given a puppy can roughly hold their bladder only 1 hour per month of age, we had to get up every two hours. I can confess that this didn’t always happen, but we did our best to stick to it. Making sure you’re not scrambling around for slippers and a torch will help. As with all areas of training, encouragement (rather than punishment) is the key. So setting up treats near the door allows you to reward your puppy as soon as they have done the deed. If you leave any reward too long they won’t know why they’re getting the treat.

Deciding on verbal cues means what words you and everyone else will use for things like “Drop it”, “Leave it”, “Go wee” etc. If everyone uses the same terms, the training will go much smoother and be less confusing for the puppy. I would say this is something that naturally happens anyway as you all interact, but it does help. Betty learned “Drop it”, but would do nothing when someone requested “Drop”, for example. You could teach both phrases, but that is making things even more complicated!

Socialisation is the most important take away from this page. Your puppy needs to get familiar with other people, other animals, other dogs of all shapes and sizes. Cars, bikes, sheep… the list goes on. You can download checklists to cover most bases and I’d recommend you do this. You also need a bit of luck here. If while introducing your puppy to a cat they have a bad experience, then that is likely going to make them not like cats when they’re all grown up. You need to do this early on while their brain is like a sponge. After a certain age, as the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Socialisation checklist

Anyway, as you’re unlikely to be able to take your puppy out until they’ve had their needles, socialisation is even harder. Once you’ve been cooped up for weeks you’ll all just be glad to get out and meet other people, animals and things!