We added a puppy to our family last fall and even though we have owned dogs for many years, we have never had a young puppy. We got our dachshund Zoey at 6 months and by then she had outgrown many of her young puppy traits. We came into our puppy through close friends whose Golden Retriever we had loved for many years. We had always said we would want one of his puppies and since their neighbor’s Giant Schnauzer had gotten out just at the right time the opportunity presented itself.
Adding a puppy with two young children, a teenager heading off to college in a year and without a fenced yard was a slightly crazy decision on our part but we decided to take the plunge and he is a member of the family now.
He was tiny and he was cute and he slept through the night in his crate from the very beginning with no accidents. Zoey our temperamental dachshund that does not like any other dogs took to him immediately. That being said there were many crazy days when George’s high energy lead to some less desirable behaviors. Here are five things that we discovered along that way that helped immensely.
1. Crate Training
I can’t emphasize this enough. Puppies need their rest time otherwise they turn into crazy, bitey, squiggly beasts that are unable to listen to a word you say. It turns out that when you have loud, high energy children and a high energy puppy they will feed off of each other and the puppy will not rest so creating a calm safe environment for George was a must. He loves his crate and most mornings when the children get loud he asks to go sleep in it so he can nap in peace. We bought this Double-Door Folding Metal Dog Crate from Amazon and it works really well.
2. Special Kong for Crate Time
We wanted crate time to be happy time so we rewarded George for being in the crate with a KONG puppy. Now that he is older and has all of his adult teeth we bought him the KONG extreme which he loves to have treats stuffed in while he chews. We bought hard biscuit type treats from our local pet store but some people use foam spray or small pieces of dog food for their dogs to eat. At some point we will try making our own treats which is something the kids would love to help with.
3. Daily Exercise
Physical activity is required for any dog, especially high energy ones. It is very important not to overdo it the first year though, especially with larger breeds of dogs because they can develop hip dysplasia later in life. We started out walking George up and down our street at about 12 weeks. That is the age our vet said we could take him outside but not interact with other dogs yet. At 16 weeks we were able to take him to puppy play time at Petco which I highly recommend. They have a trainer there that helps with the play time and gives you tips on how the dogs are interacting. You can look up times for your local Petco here.
4. Mental Stimulation
Working your puppy’s brain out will also help with boredom and chewing. We went through many toys trying to figure out what would keep George busy playing independently. The best investment for us was hands down this treat ball . Both of our dogs love it and will play with it for hours. We fill it with our regular dog food and let him at it. There are a couple of different settings you can place it on depending on how difficult you want to make. it.
5. Lots of Safe Toys for Chewing
If you provide several safe options for you puppy to chew on they will be less likely to chew on your furniture. Variety is key and just like with my kids, I rotate toys with the puppy. I wash them about once a week with color-safe bleach which gets all of the stinky dog slobber smell out and to him they smell new. If you don’t have time to wash them that often you could just keep some in a box and switch them out every few days. I give George one or two “new” to him toys every day and it seems to keep him more engaged. We were having a problem with George ripping off chunks of his soft toys and then eating them on the sly so I went out and bought a Georgia Gator Tuff Dog Toy and man has this thing lasted. We were going through a toy a day from George’s strong teeth and this one he can’t rip through so even though it cost more money it is a better deal in the end. So far it has lasted about 3 weeks with no tears. I spent a whopping $30 on it but the two weeks prior I had been desperately buying toys left and right and spent about $60. None of the cheaper toys are in the rotation any more. They have all bit the dust.
Whew I am really glad we are past the young puppy stage and George has started to calm down a bit. We are dealing with a teenager puppy but now that we have gotten the hang of things it is going much smoother. Have fun snuggling your puppies!