I have some exciting news!! For those of you who don’t already know, our household gained a new family member. And we are absolutely in love! From her cute squishy face, her velvet soft hair, and that adorable little nose…she just has a way of melting our hearts.
But, there are no late-night feedings and diaper changes for us. Our new addition is a puppy! Her name is Bonnie and she is a now 9-month-old lab mix. She joins our house shared with 2 energetic young human boys as well as our 13-year-old lab/hound mix, Mimi, and my husband and me.
One thing that we forgot, especially since we now have a 13-year-old dog, is how much goes into helping your new puppy transition to your home. So much training is involved! You get a little spoiled when your dog gets older. You take for granted things like:
- a consistent potty schedule
- not having to go outside every 45 minutes
- your dog knowing you always come home
- pens staying on the end table where you put them
Let’s discuss some things that have helped us transition with our new addition. Maybe our lessons will help you with your new furry family additions in the future.
Potty Training a Puppy
I may not be changing diapers, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still cleaning up accidents! Some dogs potty train super easily, while other puppies have relapses and accidents. Other puppies are a little slower to figure out the whole potty training world. For those whose pets train quickly and easily…you are lucky!
Although Bonnie is already 8 months old, she still occasionally has a puppy pee accident. It is easy to get frustrated, but puppy bladders are small. She can’t hold her urine as adult dogs can. If possible, try to get your puppy on a routine of going outside to go potty frequently. Depending on the age and size of your puppy, this may mean going outside every hour.
As she gets more used to the frequent potty schedule, slowly increase the time between potty breaks until she is able to hold it for long periods and is having fewer accidents. Most dogs respond well to verbal praise, so reward her when she potties outside by using a key phrase like “good girl” or “good potty”.
Treats work really well too! If you use treats, give the treat reward directly after your pup goes potty outside to reinforce the behavior you want. Like kids, puppies have a short attention span. If you wait until you get inside to reward her, she may not relate the treat to going potty outside. She might associate coming inside with getting a treat. As a result, she may rush to come back inside and not fully empty her bladder. If that’s the case, you’ll be back outside again shortly, or you’ll be cleaning up an accident.
Potty training for most dogs is not super quick or super easy. It takes time, a consistent schedule, and patience. Don’t give up…you and your puppy will master it!
With our older dog Mimi, we never had to deal with any separation issues or stress. We adopted her after her puppy stage from the humane society, and she was used to people not always being with her. Mimi has always been so happy for us to come home, but she never worried that we wouldn’t come back.
Bonnie, on the other hand, is a whole different story. Bonnie loves to be around her human family, and when we go away, she definitely has anxiety. When we first got Bonnie, she would bark, pace, have accidents, and occasionally even chew things (like the pen she chewed up on the couch). Over the last 3 months, Bonnie has come a long way with her anxiety, but it has taken patience…and the help of some supplements.
Supplements Can Help
If your pet is showing signs of anxiety or separation issues, ask your vet for help. There are many natural supplements that can be used to decrease stress and anxiety. For our puppy, we used a combination of a stress-relieving chew and a calming spray in her kennel. Those two things really seemed to help Bonnie relax.
We also gave the stress-relieving chew to our older dog who was adapting to having a young pup in the house! If supplements and calming options aren’t working, there are medications that can help, too. There is no need for your pet (or you!) to have to stress and be anxious. We can help.
Consistency and Training are Key
Consistency truly is the key to helping your puppy settle in! If your puppy knows what to expect and what you want, it’s easier to stay on the same page together. Training for any breed of dog is a good idea!
If you are interested in formal training, reach out to a trainer ASAP! With COVID times and the increased number of people with new pets, trainers are booking up quickly. You may need to be put on a waiting list.
Seeking a formal or professional trainer will ensure that you and your puppy get started on the right foot (or paw). You will learn basic commands, and you’ll figure out how to communicate with your new pup.
If you are working on training from home, treats can be a great positive motivator for your puppy. Just like people, puppies tend to learn faster with positive reinforcements. Treats, ear scratches, and positive praise work much better than punishments like yelling or spanking.
Make sure that everyone involved in the training does things the same way. For example, if you don’t want your puppy jumping on people, tell the puppy “no jump” or “down” when she jumps. Then, ask her to do a task she knows like “sit.” Reward her after she responds to the sit command.
Teach your puppy what you want and need from her, but listen to her signals as well. We often joke that our puppies train us, but it is true! Learning each other’s cues, needs, and stressors helps you communicate with each other and helps your puppy be successful.
Enjoy This Puppy Time!
Who doesn’t love an adorable puppy? A puppy can make your worries vanish with one look and one little kiss. Puppies are amazing! Even though our family is still working through the occasional accident and the separation anxiety, I wouldn’t trade Bonnie for the world. Puppy time only lasts for so long, just like human baby time.
Remember that it takes 1 month for your puppy to start to truly settle in, 3 months for your puppy to realize this is her forever home, and 6 months or more to fully understand her new home and “house rules.”
Be consistent. Be patient. And enjoy the cuddles along the way! The love and the bond you’ll create with your new addition is something that can never be broken.
Dr. Heintz is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.