Bringing My Puppy Home
The time is nearly here when you will be bringing your Lebenshunger German Shepherd home. This is an exciting time for everyone and believe me, none less so for me as your breeder. That is why I want to make sure that you are equipped with as much information as possible before bringing your new family member home. So to that end, here are some recommendations.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE TO PICK UP YOUR PUPPY:
Your puppy will have received its first vaccination against the Parvo virus as well as medication against internal parasites (worms).
You will receive a puppy kit with your puppy’s health certificate showing the date of the worming and the Parvo vaccination, and the date of the next vaccination required to be administered by your veterinarian. A WORD OF CAUTION HERE: Parvo is a highly contagious virus that is spread easily to puppies and is most often deadly. DO NOT stop on the way home at rest stops to let your puppy pee, or take your puppy to dog parks or pet stores, etc., until your puppy has had its full series of vaccinations against the Parvo virus. Your puppy gets one here and will need two more by your vet.
You will receive a written contract which spells out the terms of the health guarantee of your puppy as well as your puppy’s AKC registration application (unless your puppy is out of a recent import, in which case the AKC registration may be delayed).
First, your puppy has been weaned on a high protein mixture of fresh goat’s milk, cottage cheese, boiled eggs and plain yogurt (breakfast of champions). Gradually, they have been changed over to Purina Puppy Chow. I highly recommend that you continue with this food once you get your puppy home. If you wish to change your puppy’s food at a later date, that will be up to you, but for now, I strongly recommend that you stick with Purina Puppy Chow. This will help avoid gastrointestinal upset in your puppy as it adjusts to a new environment. Do not feed your puppy anything else, including table scraps, etc., until it is older.
Your puppy has been “free fed” here at my kennel. That is, it has received all it wanted to eat. If you only have this one dog, you may free feed too if you wish. Free feeding means that you keep a bowl of food down 24/7. No, they won’t over eat. It doesn’t take them long to realize that the food is not going anywhere and they don’t have to challenge anyone for it so they just “graze” as they want to. If feeding on a schedule is more to your liking, then feeding several small meals a day is better than one large one. Feeding two or three small meals a day allows your puppy/dog to digest and absorb the nutrients in the food that they have consumed, much more easily and thoroughly. Your puppy needs about 3 cups of food per day. If they eat all that…give them more, and If you can manage to divide that up into two or three feedings per day….great!
Clean, fresh water throughout the day…..but take the water up at 6:00PM. This will help your puppy go through the night without having to go pee, and this helps with potty training.
Please crate train your puppy. I recommend that you purchase one large crate that will accommodate your puppy when it reaches adulthood. This avoids the problem of purchasing multiple crates as your puppy grows. My preference is the enclosed plastic type crate as opposed to an open wire crate. The enclosed plastic type offers a more cozy, secure space for your Shepherd, that they will come to enjoy very much. It is more “den like,” which appeals to their canine roots. The wire crate is open and leaves the puppy/dog feeling more vulnerable. If the crate is too large for a small puppy, however, they will use part of the crate as a bathroom. To avoid them messing in their crate, use a cardboard box to take up half the crate space. It can be removed as the puppy grows and is then house and crate trained. Many crates come with a divider. Leaving a puppy alone and unattended is asking for trouble. They are fast and can get into a lot of mischief in a short time. If you need to run to the store or somewhere for a short period of time and you cannot take your puppy with you….CRATE YOUR PUPPY!
Limit the treats to training tools only. I recommend soft liver type treats. Bil-Jac makes good liver treats. Make sure that they are soft. Your puppy’s teeth are small and chewing is still difficult. DO NOT GIVE YOUR PUPPY PIG EARS OR RAWHIDE. These are very bad for your dog.
Unless you want to be running your puppy to the vet, no soft, plush toys. They will tear those apart in a heartbeat and swallow the stuffing and other parts. Nothing with bells and whistles and bobbles, etc. Get them durable, hard toys to chew on. Large Nyla bones are great, as are Kongs, hard balls, etc. Things like this will keep your puppy happy and give them something to chew on other than your furniture or favorite pair of shoes. Believe me, their teeth are tiny, but can cause immense damage. Puppies chew! They don’t do it to be destructive, they do it because their teeth hurt and chewing soothes that hurt. Remember, they are babies, and for those who have had babies, the teething process is a painful experience. No different with puppies. So, please get your puppy plenty of solid chew things. It’s very important.
German Shepherds are very, very intelligent. Many of my clients tell me that their Puppy never had an accident in the home. The results you get will depend on the effort you put into it. NOTE: If you will give this part of your puppy's education your full attention for just a short time, it will be done quickly.
Take your new puppy outside every thirty minutes. Make a HUGE deal about it when they pee or poop outside. Puppies LOVE praise. You cannot act stupid enough when they do something right; clap your hands, make sounds and show them how pleased you are with the job they did. We call this, "throwing a puppy party!" Some puppies do well with food rewards too: keep a handful of treats in your pocket at all times to reward a successful trip outside to pee/poop. However you praise and reward your puppy, make sure you make a big deal of it AFTER they pee (remain calm during the act). Also, it is important to have everyone in the family to use a consistent word for this act: for example "go potty" or "get busy."
If your puppy has been in a crate, the very first thing you do when they come out of the crate is take them outside immediately, because believe me they are going to eliminate. If you play with them, take them outside as soon as you stop because they will eliminate.
Above all…..NEVER EVER scold your puppy for having an accident in the house. They are just babies and do not know the difference until they are taught Even as babies, though, they will learn quickly if you take the time to teach them. See, this is why puppies are better than teenagers. You keep teaching them the same thing over and over and they keep doing the same stupid things over and over. It’s OK to scold teenagers. Especially if they pee on the floor!!!! Just sayin’.
BASIC HOUSE TRAINING RULES TO LIVE BY: Take your puppy outside to pee after waking from a nap, after playtime, after eating, and every 30 minutes otherwise; and PRAISE your puppy with a "puppy party" every time they pee or poop outside.
As stated above, take up all water by 6PM. Just before you retire for the night, take your puppy outside one last time for them to do their business. Bring them back in, put them in their crate, turn out the light, go to bed and in 3, 2, 1……your puppy will begin to scream and cry!!!!! WARNING: YOU ARE BEING PLAYED!! DO NOT REMOVE YOUR PUPPY FROM THE CRATE. REMEMBER WHEN YOU PUT YOUR BABY IN THEIR OWN ROOM FOR THE FIRST TIME????? If you do this, they will know that they won and from that night onward, they will continue to cry until you go and get them. Let them cry. They will settle down soon enough and go to sleep. This is why your kid keeps working you for what they want now. They remember when they were six months old how you folded like a cheap suit when they demanded to sleep with you, and now look! You have a 30 year old living in your basement and they won’t leave. See, actions have consequences.
At about 3AM or so, your puppy will begin to cry again. Now you have to go and let your puppy out of the crate and take them outside. This means, "I have to wee wee." Take them outside, let them do their business, jump up and down, clap hands, and now get back in the house because the neighbor is probably calling the cops! Bring the puppy back in and place back in the crate, you go to bed and in 3, 2, 1…..the puppy will begin to cry! Go back to sleep. They will stop.
This will go on for a few nights and then your puppy will be going through the night without crying. PHEW!!! that was a rough one. Do you see any blue lights flashing outside your window yet? Shhhhhhh!
Training your German Shepherd puppy is not difficult if you remember that you are dealing with a canine child, so with that in mind, act accordingly. You be the adult, and that means exercising patience. Use common sense; don't overload your puppy with too many demands or expect immediate results. This is not a robot that you've brought home. Most importantly, please remember that your puppy does NOT yet know right from wrong - so please don't harshly reprimand your puppy for a "wrong" that it has not yet been educated on. Use patience and understanding to educate your new and young puppy in these situations.
An 8 week old puppy's brain is like a sponge: they will soak up everything and they will learn quickly. In fact, they are eager to learn, but like any child, their brain will become bored easily with a task. At that point, the joy of learning won't be fun anymore so I suggest that you do no more than fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the afternoon. That is long enough before you begin to lose their attention and frustration sets in for both you and, most importantly, the puppy. Use a lot of praise and a lot of treats and most importantly, end your sessions on a positive note where the puppy has succeeded at the appointed task. Once they have...stop right there, a lot of praise and a treat, and they will be eagerly looking forward to the next session.
If you decide to take your puppy to a “trainer,” please be very careful and do your homework. Training a puppy properly takes knowledge. Doing it wrong or making bad choices for your puppy can create problems that become a nightmare down the road and very difficult to undo. Unfortunately, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people who call themselves dog trainers when in reality they are little more than qualified to simply walk your dog. It’s pretty easy to hang that shingle out there that says “Dog Trainer” only to make a quick buck.
If you live anywhere within a reasonable driving distance of Norwell, MA., I highly recommend Mike Kelley and Canine K-9 Communication. Mike is an accomplished dog trainer. A number of my puppy clients have taken their Lebenshunger puppies to Mike and have been extremely happy with the results. You can reach Mike at 781-659-1222. Please tell him I sent you.
You are about to engage in a wonderful experience. You’ll be fine….You’ve got this. What a wonderful journey you are all headed into together, and if you hit rough water….I’m just an email or phone call away, and it is always my greatest pleasure to help you through it. You are just a few days away from joining your new best friend. Congratulations.