Once you have prepared for puppy pick up day, you also need to be prepared for when you arrive at home from puppy pick up day.
Introducing your puppy to the home is one of your best opportunities to start things off on the right foot. If you do everything right, you can really set yourself up for success. Training a puppy starts on your puppy's first night in your home.
Three Important Topics Can Make All The Difference
Expectations That Set the Tone
Expectations can either help you or hurt you when it comes to your new pup. If you have expectations that aren't met, then you probably will have a pretty tough time as you incorporate your pup into the home. On the contrary, if your expectations are met, you will have an incredible time as your pup becomes a part of the family.
So what should you be expecting?
Well, you have a puppy, and it's going to be doing things that a puppy would do. It will bite, bark, potty, eat, and sleep. A puppy is a handful, and it will be an adjustment for you as well as an adjustment for the puppy.
It will do all of those things, and it will also bring you joy. A young pup is full of life and curiosity. It's incredible to watch a pup learn and see how it interacts with its new surroundings.
The big thing to understand is that the puppy phase goes by very quickly. At the time, it doesn't feel that way, but in a couple of months, you will start to notice your pup transform from a pup to a young dog.
Potty accidents will happen, you will probably lose sleep, and you may even get a few holes in your pants or shirt. Don't freak out or get upset when these things happen. It's all part of having a puppy.
Your puppy needs you to help it through these times and to teach it all the things you want it to know. Every one of the things I've mentioned is an opportunity to build trust between you and your pup.
Trust is the foundation of the bond you and your pup will develop. It's like a bank or an investment. The more you deposit, the more it will grow. The more you take out, the smaller it gets.
Every day, be patient, be calm, and ultimately enjoy the puppy stage. It goes by quicker than you know!
Establishing a Routine
One of the most important things that you can do for both yourself and your pup is establishing a good, consistent routine. One thing to keep in mind is this: when you bring your pup into your home, it is leaving all of its security behind. It is leaving everything it has ever known.
That is by no means a bad thing at all, and it's good as long as you handle things in a way that promotes your pup's growth and maturity. With that said, one of your pup's needs is a routine that helps it feel grounded as well as secure.
What does a consistent routine look like?
It looks different for everyone, but it's based on your specific schedule. Here are some things to consider when developing a great routine...
One of the quickest ways to start establishing a solid routine is simply by setting a normal wake up time and bedtime. This can fit into your personal schedule at whatever times you normally go to bed and wake up.
If you go to bed at various times, you may want to consider keeping your pup in a separate room so that you can put it to bed at a consistent time each night even if you don't go to bed at the same time. As far as the morning routine goes, it is very important to have a set time each morning that you wake up so that your pup can start becoming accustomed to that.
Feeding times will be the same as well. When you first bring your pup home, you will likely feed it three times per day, but you will quickly transition to feeding twice a day. The important thing here is to aim to feed your dog at the same times each day. This will also start to help your pup get comfortable with its new routine even quicker.
Scheduling your training time and playtime actually has more flexibility than the feeding and sleep times. When it comes to training, I do recommend aiming for a consistent schedule, but there will be times when you get an opportunity to train at random times as well. Take any opportunity you have to spend time and develop a strong bond with your dog.
The same goes for playtime as well. While you will have standard times that you give your pup to play while supervised, it is ok to take advantage of random opportunities to let your pup have supervised playtime as well.
The Transition from Litter to Family
This transition is a crucial time in your dog's life, and it's also an incredible opportunity for you to really instill good habits that will last a lifetime.
What I mentioned above is crucial for this transition period, but there are also a few other important things to consider.
What is the goal of having a good transition from the litter to the family?
The number one goal of this transition is for your pup to assimilate within your family and become a part of it. The beauty is that this is different for everyone. If you think about it, every family is different.
Your family has different routines, schedules, and traditions than another. As you bring your pup into the home, keep this in mind.
Here's a list of questions to ask yourself and your family:
All of these questions and others that are similar are something that you should sit down with the family and plan out. A lot of these questions can have many different answers. It all depends on what you would like in your household.
The big key in answering all of these questions is this: Are your decisions going to build engagement, incorporate the pup into the family, and help it grow into the hunting/family companion that you want it to be?
Let that key guide your answers as you decide how you would like for your pup to be incorporated into the home.
Remember: this time of transition is a time where you have an opportunity to show and teach your puppy how you want it to behave and interact with your family. This is a time where you can make it feel secure, build trust, and lay a great foundation that will set your retriever training journey up for great success.
At this stage in the process, your pup will be very eager to adapt and learn with ease. Take advantage of this time to make great strides toward having the gundog and family companion that you can be proud of.
As soon as you bring your pup into the home, you will want to be prepared to crate train and housebreak your puppy correctly. We've dedicated an entire blog post in this series on just that. You can see that blog post here.