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We got a new puppy for Christmas, now what do I do?

This is the time of year when many families give their kids as a Christmas present a beautiful, bouncy, energetic puppy. You now have a new member of the family. The kids are so excited to have a new puppy playmate and you are thrilled to see the joy on your child's face. Dogs are such wonderful gifts for children, the connection between a child and his/her dog lasts a lifetime. But its not only the children that the puppy has a profound effect on, the puppy also has a profound effect on you the caretaker. Once you look in the eyes of your puppy its over, your heart just melts. You immediately know that you love this little ball of fur. Quickly the reality sets in that you now have a new member of the family to care for. Love, eat, play, sleep, poo, pee, love, eat, play, sleep, poo, pee is pretty much a much the life of a dog. You now have to learn how to manage your dogs routine. As much as you believe that you are training your dog the reality is your dog is training you, but you don't know that yet! I remember the day when I brought home my first puppy. He was the cutest bundle of fur, quiet as a clam in the car. I remember thinking to myself is this how its going to be, he is like a beautiful play toy, he is so quiet and calm? Once we got home, things quickly changed. In the beginning training a new puppy can be daunting and patience testing. If you never had a dog before, getting through the first 6 months will be a bit of a challenge, a delightful one at that, but nevertheless a challenge! There are going to be nights when you get very little sleep because the puppy is energetic at 2 am, or needs to go pee-pee, but that will change over time, I promise. I've raised many puppies over the years and want to share with new puppy caretakers some of my experience. In order to help new dog owners get through the first few months of caring for a puppy, I've put together a 3 part Blog series. Today, in the first of the series we are going to cover the ever so important (get your business done) otherwise known as wee wee training. A puppy's energy level is high and its bladder is small. I was told by several veterinarians that the bladder of a new puppy is about the size of a thimble, yes a thimble. This translates into frequency of urination. In the beginning, a puppy will generally need to go out at least 8 times a day until its bladder starts to grow. So its very important from day 1 to establish good 'get your business done' habits. Start training your dog to do their business wherever YOU want them to go. You need to establish a routine for your new puppy and stick with it. Many people choose to use a wee wee pad but my preference is to train your dog to do its business outside, if possible. Weewee pads are a fine alternative and particularly useful for teacup sized dogs but if you have the opportunity to train your dog to do its business outside, that's my preference, because it will be better in the long run. Take your dog in and out of the same door every time. As the dog gets older they will soon learn to tell you that they need to do their business by going to that door. I know many people like put a little bell by the door which they teach the dog to ring when the dog has to go out, but quite honestly that would make me nuts! Keep it simple, I say. By routine I am saying that the puppy needs to do its business around the same time and same place every day. If from the beginning the dog learns to go outside talk with your dog while they are sniffing and tell them to do their business. You will find a term which works for you both. I use poo-pee and pee-pee and the point gets across clearly. This is also an important time for you to bond with your dog. A new puppy needs to have an established routine. First thing in the morning you get up, the dog goes out; before you leave for work, the dog goes out. In the beginning every few hours the puppy will need to do some business. If you are crate training, the crate should not be so big as the afford your puppy the room to do their business on one side and sleep on the other. Here is an idea, depending on the size of your crate, put a divider in your crate so the dog will have enough room to comfortably move easily and sleep but not so much room that they will want to be able to do their business on one side of the crate . Putting a divider in the crate will prevent your dog from doing their business in the crate (dogs don't like to sleep and pee in the same place). As the dog gets bigger you will move the divider to correspond with the size of the dog in order to give the dog more space in the crate. Eventually, the dog will have access to their whole crate (or as I call it their apartment). From the first day the dog should be crated, freedom is something they earn. A puppy's home is its crate, its your dog's place of comfort and refuge. When crating its always a good thing to put a few toys, Nylabone chews and baby blanket into the crate so the dog can have something to chew on and soft to snuggle up to. When you leave the house the dog should go into the crate, together with a small treat. This will be their apartment for a few hours until...remember they sleep a lot. I always used to leave the TV or radio on so they have some company when no one was home. When I was crate training, I would have a pet sitter or neighbor come in to let the dog out of its crate every few hours in order to do his business, get fed. play for a bit, then back in his crate. Once I got home from work, I took the dog out to do business then when we came back in the house, while I was getting dinner together, he had his freedom for a few hours. Routine and crating are your best friends. Accidents will happen, and you will need patience. It's all worth it, trust me on that.

If in addition to the below three topics, there are any other topics you would like to cover, please feel free to email me.

#1. Get Your Business Done Training

#2. Feeding

#3. Biting/Chewing

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