Updated: Jun 14, 2019
The sweetest little nugget, Maple, has officially joined our pack!
Maple came to us on Saturday, June 1 from Washington. She was born April 3, so she is just 8-weeks-old! Her sire is Blitz’s littermate, making her Blitz’s niece! They certainly have a lot in common; I would not be disappointed if Maple turns out just like Blitz ;). Maple has been here just shy of 3 days and is already doing super!
I have been posting quite a bit about Maple on Instagram and have had a lot of puppy-related questions! Therefore I have decided to start a series on Maple! For this series, I will be posting weekly updates that entails what life is like for Maple during this time period! How crate/potty training is going, what she’s learning, what my expectations are and so on. Each puppy and family will differ, but I hope this gives new puppy owners a reference point for puppy life!
In the short time Maple has been here, we’ve been working on:
Crate Training – crate training is an essential part of raising a puppy. The crate does a few valuable things: helps immensely with potty training, prevents unwanted chewing, teaches independence and confidence being alone, introduce the puppy to the concept of place training, and so on. I always recommend that everyone crate trains their puppy, even if their goal is to eventually leave the dog out unattended. Just like children, we don’t leave them home unattended and puppies shouldn't be either. To introduce crate training, we have been doing some simple games of throwing the kibble into the crate, allowing her to eat it and come back out and repeating. This is helpful for teaching Maple how to go into the crate on her own vs. just shoving her in. Feeding her in the crate is also a great way to make the crate a positive space for her. Maple stays in the crate overnight and anytime she is unattended. Even if it’s just a quick shower, puppies cannot be left unattended. Not only could that create bad pottying habits, you do not want them getting into anything when you aren’t around to stop them. The crate is the safest place for them. It’s also important to allow your puppy to be in the crate even when you are home, too. I do not want Maple to assume that just because the humans are walking around and talking that she needs to be out and involved. This is a huge step towards preventing separation anxiety (which is common in GSPs) and teaching her an off-switch (also extremely important with these high-energy dogs). Just because I am doing something doesn’t always mean that she will be! So she’s also in the crate while we’re eating dinner, feeding the other dogs, or busy with chores. She takes a lot of naps at this age and it’s perfect for her to learn to nap in there!
For her age, Maple is doing surprisingly well in the crate! She protests some when she’s initially put in, but the barking and whining stops within 5-10 minutes. When she initially goes in the crate and whines/barks, I do not acknowledge it. I certainly don’t let her out again, but I also don’t give her any “oh it’s okay! Shhh you’ll be fine” because that’s also a reward for her. Rewarding her with any kind of attention for barking and whining will teach her that any time she wants out, she can be vocal and get what she wants. The goal is for her to be calm and quiet in her crate and that’s the behavior we look for before allowing her to come out.
Potty Training –Maple as also done a really nice job with potty training with 3 days in and no accidents yet (knock on wood)! The best way to potty train a puppy is by preventing them from having accidents in the first place and rewarding them for pottying in the correct place. Punishment (telling them NO! or a small tap on the butt) for pottying inside does not work and can create anxiety/worse behavior for potty training. If your puppy potties inside, it is the human’s fault and there should be no blame on the puppy!
To prevent accidents inside, never let your puppy be out unattended or without 100% of your focus. If you see your puppy sniffing around, chances are they are looking for a place to potty. Take them outside and reward them for going in the right place. If you can’t have eyes on them at all times to watch for this, they need to be in their crate. Anytime you take your puppy out of the crate, even if it was just for 5 minutes, they need to go out and have a chance to potty. Anytime they stop playing, finish eating, or get up from napping, they need to go out to potty. Give your puppy PLENTY of opportunities to get it right! Stay outside with them long enough to see that they pee and poo before taking them back in. If they don’t do both and you know that they need to, put them back in the crate for a short time and try again.
Every time your puppy potties outside, there should be a food reward. When I know Maple needs to go, I will say “go potty,” to help her learn a cue and as soon as she’s done she always get’s a food reward. In less than 3 days, as soon as she potties she runs to me licking her lips because she already knows there’s a reward for that! Potty training can be stressful but it doesn’t need to be! Set yourself up for success as much as possible and know that accidents will happen, but that’s part of being a puppy owner!
Training – In order to set Maple up for success when she is older, she has been learning to work for all of her food. She doesn’t eat any food out of a bowl; it’s all earned through training/potting outside/good behavior. Working for all of her meals is a great way to instill a good work ethic, as well as require me to put in plenty of time with her. All of her food is portioned out and used throughout the day, so she’s getting fed the correct amount, just throughout the day as she earns it. The first thing I did was introducing the clicker. Clicker training makes everything similar, so it’s worth the 5-10 minutes it takes to give it meaning. There are plenty of resources on how to load the clicker on YouTube! Once she understood that click = treat, we moved on to recall by name recognition. This is simply done by standing close to her, saying her name then presenting a treat and clicking as she heads toward you. We also have been introducing sit, down and place! For now, these are all done with food and are simply the foundation of good obedience. There are no expectations, no punishments for not doing them; it’s all optional for food.
I hope this gives you a better outline of what life with an 8-week-old puppy looks like at my house! Next week we will check back in on the above topics, as well as discussing puppy socialization. Feel free to reach out in the comments or via the contact form if you have any questions or suggestions on what you would like to see in the future!