Congratulations on your new OES puppy. Enjoy your new baby and their antics because they grow up so fast.
Before we move into a hopefully helpful list of Top Ten Tips to raising your puppy, always try to find humor in most situations. Your puppy does not need to think that doing a bad thing is funny and okay but humor will help you get through some of those trying times.
In order for all of these tips to work you must be consistent in your training. When you read about the benefits of a toy basket, you need to know that I will make 20 trips a day to that basket with my new puppy, oohing and aahing over what they have just discovered. I will also put all those toys away 20 times a day so the puppy soon knows that all the fun is in the basket, not in demolishing my houseJ.
I also talk a lot to my puppy and continue to do so when they are an adult. It can be a chatty positive conversation about anything. When we are on walks and they see their first bird I shall chat it up. If a great song comes on the radio I shall dance around the room with puppy watching very closely. Lots of interaction with your puppy teaches them to stay very focused on you. As they get older and go through their teenage months you will want them to listen to you not the distraction.
Basic Purchases Prior to Your Puppy’s Arrival
·Wire Crate & Soft Crate Bed
·Leash & Collar - small ½’ buckle will do for the first month
·Stainless Steel Bowls
·Oval Pin Brush - a comb will be needed at a later time
·Toys - Young puppies love flat soft toys as they are light and easy to run with
·Cozy Dog Bed - Preferably a round one with a raised edge. They like to curl up in the middle of the bed and rest their head on the edge,
A critical element to successful house training is crate training which I discuss in detail on page 3. Besides the crate, in the first few weeks of residing with your new puppy, you will be spending every waking hour of your life going outside together. Most accidents in the home are because you did not take the puppy out in timely intervals. Week one I usually do this at ½ hour intervals and I stay with the puppy until they have completed their duties. Then it is lots of PRAISE!
I do not get up in the middle of the night but make sure that the last thing we do before bedtime is go outside. I also cut off all water about 1/12 hours before then.
Note: I work full time so with proper outside training and crate training I can usually, within 7 days, have a puppy holding their business for approximately 8 hours.
Each home and situation is different but I am a firm believer in baby gates if you do not want the puppy to have access to certain rooms in the home. I personally feel when you are home the entire home should eventually be accessible but not until house training, chewing, teething etc are conquered. If I am not home I never give a dog complete run of the house until at least 2 years of age. In my absence, they are crated or when older put in an exercise pen.
The first thing I do with a new puppy is to prepare, prior to their arrival, a big toy basket that is theirs. It must be low enough for them to get into to explore and grab things out of. They are immediately trained to go to the basket, encouraged and praised when they drag a toy out etc. I also play with them as they discover each new toy/ball. Toys are always put back in the basket at rest time and then the process starts all over again.
Top 10 Guidelines to Raising an Almost Perfect OES Puppy
Exercise & Leash Training
Your puppy spent the first 8 weeks of their life being hugged, kissed, and physically and mentally stimulated. In the latter part of those 8 weeks they have continually met new people who have visited the breeder’s home. We have discussed stimulation within your home but exercise outside the home is also very important. Young puppies cannot go on long one hour walks so I recommend several shorter walks a day. If you work and do not have time in the morning to do this, take a short walk when you get home from work and then another one around 9 pm. I encourage people to greet my puppy and touch them and I also let the puppy enjoy the smells and sounds of our neighborhood walk.
Training an 8 week old puppy to walk on a leash takes patience. Purchase a buckle cloth collar (no choke collar at this point) and a 4 to 5 foot cloth leash. There should be no flexi leads at this age. Hook the leash onto the collar and let the puppy drag it around the yard. This should be a supervised activity. We start our walk with me following the puppy for the first few minutes. Do not be surprised if your puppy turns into a bucking bronco. I always take treats with me to encourage good behavior and also to get the puppy to want to follow me. You must make the walks a fun enjoyable experience. This is not the time to be yanking on the puppy’s collar shouting “Heel”.When the puppy gets to about 12 weeks of age I usually change from a cloth collar to a choke for walks. It is important that the choke collar is put on the dog’s neck the correct way. I then, on our walks, gently start to teach basic obedience commands like heel, sit, etc. Again treats and plenty of praise are important.
Change the route of the walk every few nights so you are always meeting new people, dogs and encountering new situations.
Note: When you start to use a small choke to walk continue to switch back to a cloth collar in the house. Your puppy will quickly learn that the choke means we are going on a walk or we are going to do training while the cloth collar means training sessions are over.
The toy basket will really discourage your puppy from finding other household items to chew on - your favorite antique chair, expensive shoe etc. If they do get into some of your treasured things, give them a firm NO, and take them back to the toy basket. At this point you must act like you are also interested in what is in that basket.
When they are teething I find that small nyla bones are very good for them to chew on. Do not give them the flavored ones. Also a small Kong with treats inside will work too. Often I will take old facecloths, wet them down, wrap in a tight roll and freeze. When it is completely frozen I will give it to the puppy to chew on. The cold helps soothe their gums. NOTE: keep a careful watch on this activity. As soon as the freezing has come out of the facecloth I remove it. Puppies love ankles to chew on your ankles with their razor sharp teeth. It reminds them of their siblings’ legs. Give the puppy a good firm NO and make many trips back to the toy basket. A quick fix that should only be used as a last resort is to put Tabasco on your ankles. Trust me they only will try to ankle bite once and then they high tail it to the water bowl. Bad habit is over & cured. Ginny might not agree with thisJ but it works and baby only has a hot tongue for a minute or twoJ
Crate Training & Feeding
The crate is your’s and your puppy’s new best friend. It is imperative that the crate be in a central part of the house and is used not just for house breaking or when you leave the home but for quiet times too, First on the list is to get the puppy to like the crate and food is the prime motivator. All meals are given in the crate with the door closed. Every time I put the puppy in the crate they are rewarded with a little treat. Again conversation is good too. Dogs love attention and rewards. Your voice is the attention factor and the treat the reward factor. When you go to bed at night the puppy is told goodnight, sleep tight and rewarded. In the morning when I open the crate I always speak in a happy voice - “Good Morning - did you have a good sleep? Oh you did - good baby” and immediately we go outside.
for long periods of time during the day.
Puppy kindergarten classes usually start at 12 weeks of age and your dog must have had all vaccinations up to that date. Choose a school that limits the number of puppies they will take. Ask to visit one of their current puppy classes so you feel comfortable with the methods of training and the instructor’s style of training. Be sure they give out lessons at each week and after each training session, crate your puppy to give him/her some downtime.
I recommend continued obedience training your puppy reaches adulthood. Each advanced session teaches you dog new skills. The classes also continue to offer mental stimulation and good behavior in a controlled environment.
Note: When you are at school do not be embarrassed to talk to your dog during the session. My dogs love to hear my positive reinforcement when heeling, doing about turns, learning to sit etc. Years ago an instructor was asked why my dogs did so well at school. His answer was that “Jane is always talking to her dog and congratulating it on doing the correct pattern”. I did not care if I looked like an idiot talking to my dog. My dog’s response to my positive reinforcement was worth it.
The Senior Citizen and Your New Puppy
If you have an older dog in your home, introducing a new puppy can be a challenge. Remember you might be very excited about this new addition to the family but your old loyal dog has not been lolling around hoping to have a bouncy, bundle of joy added to the family. It is so important that your old dog maintain his status quo within the family dynamics. Six years ago I was faced with this dilemma. I had a 12 year old Bouvier and bought an OES puppy. Prior to the puppy’s arrival I included Danny, the Bouvier, in all the preparations I had to make to get my home puppy proofed. He went to the pet store with me when I made my puppy purchases and to the airport to get our new puppy. I did not let the new puppy use him as a chew toy and I did not reprimand him when he would let out a loud growl at her. I trusted my old dog and I knew my new OES was smart. I also knew that eventually my old dog would fall in love with her it just had to be on his timetable not the puppy’s.
Each night when we put the puppy to bed, I had Danny accompany me to the room the crate was in. I would always say “Come on Danny it is time to put Jezebel to bed.” Jezebel always went to bed an hour before we did. Within a week he would race to the top of the stairs and wait for us. In the morning I let him go into the room first to wake her up and help me get her out of the crate. He would then run to the back door with Jezebel in hot pursuit and out they would go for their morning duty.
I have already mentioned that 8 week old puppies cannot go for brisk 1 hour walks so evening walks were divided up. I would take one walk with the puppy after work and then when she was having supper Danny & I went on our usual long walk. About 9:30 at night we all went on a walk together. Because I work I did not have time to do this in the morning but on weekends repeated this routine. If your old dog is used to accompanying you in the car when you do errands continue to let he or she do this just switch it up occasionally. Eventually both dogs will be able to go with you.
Danny died when Jezebel was 1 year old. Initially it took some time for her to be his best friend but within a couple of months they ended up loving each other to bits. Danny was the king and now he had a princess who thought he was the cat’s a--J. He was her mentor. When he died she moved from her dog bed to his and to this day she will still only sleep in his old one. Your beloved senior can be your new puppy’s best friend.
Whoever came up with this business model deserves a pat on the back. Whether you are at home all day or at work I highly recommend it for your dog (after all vaccines are done). Your dog gets to meet other humans, make best new friends and learn to interact in a completely different environment. A good daycare should limit the number of dogs they take, have staff trained in animal behavior and offer stimulating activities for their charges. Jezebel goes 3 days a week and literally gurgles all the way to there. They have a treadmill, some agility equipment etc. She loves it and when the puppy we are keeping is old enough to go I will alternate their days.
.NOTE: A daycare with too many dogs is a free for all. You want your dog to come home happy not hyper and acting like up wind up toy. I have found that daycares that take more than 10 to 12 dogs do not have the time to properly manage the dogs or offer proper stimulation.
Heat, Sunshine and the OES Coat.
If you are raising your puppy during the summer months the heat and sunshine can be hard on your puppy and also damage their coat. Their black puppy coats really heat up, which makes it uncomfortable for the dog and the sun may bleach out the color. In hot weather walk your puppy in the very early morning or later in the evening. Be sure when they are in the yard that they are in the shade and leave water with them in their crate.
Off Leash Parks:
I am not a proponent of off leash parks. Yes I agree that dogs like to play and meet other dogs. I am sure it feels wonderful to run free without a leash. BUT I do not know what the other dogs have been exposed too, if they have fleas, how up to date their vaccines are or if they really are well behaved dogs. I have gone to off leash parks and my take on it is that it is a free for all. Usually the owners are so busy visiting with each other they are not paying attention to the surrounding doggy dynamics.
A visit to an off leash park can end up being a frightening experience for a young dog. Imagine being a young puppy that is standing in a park and sees 3 or more strange dogs come charging up to them, all barking, excited etc. The dogs then usually sniff the newcomer, circle around them and act far too dominant. It is after all THEIR park! Too frequently I have heard the following: “Oh my Fido is usually very friendly - I do not know why he does not like your dog.”
Your backyard can also offer tons of exercise as long as you make a concentrated effort to go out and play with your dog. We have already discussed the benefits of neighborhood walks. Your local school might have fenced in playgrounds. Take your puppy to the local pee wee soccer game or a baseball game.
There are many fun alternatives to off leash parks it just takes imagination and time to go do them.
As I mentioned earlier it is important that your puppy does not associate the crate with your absence so in the evenings or on weekends I will put the puppy in their crate for a nap or of they fall asleep in my arms. To this day Jeze, although she never has to go in a crate, will seek one out of she wants some quiet time. If you teach your puppy to love their crate it will also benefit you in other ways. After a walk in inclement weather puppy can go in the crate until he/she is dry. If you like to travel, hotels will take dogs if they are crate trained. Heck in some instances, out of town family and friends are more inclined to allow you to bring your puppy to visit if they know they are crate trained. As the dog matures and gets older you can graduate to an ex pen when you are away.
We would like to thank Jane Geng for this ariticle and Ginny Price for the illustrations.