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Your New Puppy's First Days

Bringing ďSpotĒ into your home can be a very stressful experience for him. For the very first time he'll be around new humans, away from his mommy and littermates and heíll also be in a strange environment. For these reasons it's important to make Spotís transition from litter to home life as seamless as possible.

Whenever possible, take a blanket or large towel to the breeder and ask them to put it in with the mother and pups for the last week or so until you pick Spot up. Dogs use their sense of smell as their main way of identifying people and places. By using the blanket or towel, this will allow you to carry a familiar and comforting sent home with you and give Spot a reassuring smell that he knows and trusts.

This next step, ďthe bonding processĒ is the most important thing you will ever do in your relationship with Spot. It begins the second you pick him up and head for your car. If he doesnít feel safe with you, it will be much harder to gain his trust. That means that it will take much longer to create a strong bond between you. Take it slow. With a smaller dog, wrap him, or hold him with the blanket or towel. Hold him until he is calm, and then move to your car slowly. With a bigger puppy, connect the leash and hold the blanket or towel were he is able to smell it. Talk softly in a confident tone. When you get to the car, put him in the crate and sit beside him so he can see you. Then take a nice calm drive to Spotís new home. (This trip MUST NOT include any road rage moments, it needs to be peaceful).   

When you reach home, plan to spend plenty of uninterrupted quality time with him. The temptation to have friends and relatives stop by to meet him should be avoided at all cost until Spot gets used to you and his new home. Too many people, to quickly, can overwhelm him and he could become frightened and withdrawn. 

Since you have already taken the time to prepare a safe environment for your puppy, you will be able to spend your next 24 to 48 hours hanging out with Spot.

Upon your arrival, take him directly to the place in the yard that you would like to use for Spotís bathroom. Since he doesnít have the control to hold ďitĒ for very long, he should be ready to ďgoĒ after the car ride. Spend a few moments, and after he relieves himself, be sure to reward him with excited praise and maybe a little treat.

Now itís time to introduce him to your house. Take him to the door and put him on the leash. Once inside, allow him to discover the areas of the house you want him to live in.

After he has checked out the house he will probably be ready for a nap. Put his blanket or towel into his crate and place or allow him to go in. Donít close the door at first. When he settles in, then, you can close the door. Remember, puppies donít sleep for very long. After a short time he will be ready to play again. As soon as Spot wakes up, take him out to that special place in the yard and let him go potty. Remember to reward him when he does.

Return to the house and spend lots of time with him on the floor. This is the time when the bonding process actually begins to happen. In fact, I suggest that you spend at least the first 24 hours on the floor with him. I actually go so far as to put a sleeping bag and pillow on the floor so that I can live at his level for the first 24-36 hours. Stay in close contact with Spot as much as possible these first few days. This will help speed up the bonding process and he will learn very quickly to be comfortable with you. He will even think of you as his new littermate. Donít worry you will only be assuming this role temporarily.

During this first 24-48 hours donít try to do any training. It should be just a fun time. During this time, just play and hang out together. While doing so he will be checking you out and you need to do the same. Make note of the way he acts and reacts to things. You will find out what toys he likes, the things he likes to do, and his actions and mannerisms. 

Finding out all of these things will give you great incite into his personality, and you will be able to use this information when it comes time to begin training. The only thing you may want to do is introduce a few boundaries. Other than that, use the time to learn about Spot. 

At some point Spot will get hungry Ö Puppies usually need to eat 3 to 4 times per day. For the first few weeks, you may want to hand feed him once in a while. This will help build his respect for you and show him that you are the source of all things good in his life. He will begin to look up to you. When he's finished eating, go back out to his potty area and wait for him to eliminate. If nothing happens in ten minutes or so, take him back inside and try again in 15 minutes or so. If he does go, give him lots of praise.

After the initial bonding period you will probably want to crate train or set up a bed for Spot. (see create training). At this point you can begin some basic training too. While puppies often times have very short attention spans, they also learn very quickly. Start with the basic: Sit, Stay and Come. Then move up to NO and Leave It. You should also begin housebreaking.

If you have children and they are old enough to help raise the puppy, you should assign jobs to them before the puppy arrives. This way, everyone will know what to do and the puppy will never be neglected. Set rules for the puppy and the family as well. Example: If the puppy is not allowed on the furniture, make sure everyone know it and abides by the rule.

Starting to Train Spot
You and Spot will probably bond in a week or two (depending on the amount of time you have invested). When the bond has been established you can start building on Spot's good habits and use them to help his basic training. Those first days of bonding will now start to pay off. You'll have a lot of good ideas about how to communicate the things you want him to learn. The time you took to praise Spotís good behavior while you established your bond, will now begin to reap big rewards. One of the most important things to remember is do not punish incorrect behavior. It's way too soon to discipline for any incorrect behavior. Your puppy still has no idea what is expected of him and punishing him will only create confusion and stress. 

Make all of your training sessions fun and make them seam like play sessions.

As long as Spot focuses his attention on you by looking up at you or following you, he is showing you that he is looking for your guidance. While he is watching you, this would be a good time to teach him his name!!! When you have eye contact, say his name in a cheerful tone of voice. This will also help him connect his name to paying attention to you. This is an important first step in obedience training. (Learn to Teach the Sit, Stay, and Come Commands)

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