New Cockerpoo puppy, Merlot, is just eight weeks old. A tiny bundle of fluff, not much larger than a guinea pig.
When I arrived yesterday evening he had only been in his new home for two hours.
He had not enjoyed the car journey and was sleepy.
I love it when people call me at the start. Puppy Parenting is about making sure things go in the right direction. It’s also about pre-empting possible future problems.
Their new Cockerpoo puppy came from an excellent breeder who had already started the puppies in the right direction. His mother is friendly and stable.
Merlot is already partially toilet trained. They took him out three times while I was there, and each time he performed.
The breeder fed him on the best food, which they will continue.
So, yesterday we discussed basics.
Leave their new Cockerpoo puppy to cry?
How were they going to cope with the first night? ‘People’ had said they should leave him to cry if he was lonely and distressed.
I say the opposite!
The more safe and secure he feels from the start, the more independent he will be later on. He’s never been all alone, after all. How scary must that be.
Last night the lady slept on the sofa with Merlot. No accidents.
This morning she has begun rewarding him for going into his crate briefly.
A puppy pen
She has ordered a puppy pen. In a large open-plan area I consider this a vital piece of equipment. From the start their new Cockerpoo puppy will be unable to follow them everywhere, which helps prevent separation problems later on.
A pen is somewhere to put him – with plenty of things to chew and destroy – when he goes wild which he undoubtedly will.
From the very start their new Cockerpoo puppy will be discouraged from biting people. This isn’t done by scolding. As soon as they feel teeth on their hand, they will remove their hand. Then they will immediately give him something else to chew. (I’m not an advocate of squealing as too often this hypes puppy up more).
I was sitting holding Merlot when, one at a time, the adult sons came home. The new puppy was unfazed. Here is is sleeping in his a son’s arms.
In my opinion they should leave teaching any ‘commands’ (I prefer the word ‘cues’). Let the new puppy settle in first. It really doesn’t matter if the tiny thing doesn’t know ‘Sit’ just yet.
The two cues they will start with are responding to his name and putting the toileting on cue – with something like ‘quick-quick’ while he’s going.
One other rule: never to simply take something off their puppy. If they do an exchange from the get-go it will stand them in good stead later on.
For our new Cockerpoo puppy, that’s enough for now.
In a week’s time he will have settled in and we will pick his puppy parenting up from there.
To be continued…..
Ten days later
Little Merlot is constantly underfoot!
The lady had a great idea. She found a basket that she could carry him in and has taught him ‘in your basket’.
Now, when someone is likely to tread on him, they send him to lie down happily and safely in his improvised bed.
The lady slept on the sofa with Merlot the first night. The following night she put his little bed on the sofa with her. She had to put him back in a few times and he soon got the message.
A couple of nights later she put his bed on the floor beside the sofa. Over the remaining five days she moved the bed into to his crate which is in the room but out of sight of the sofa. Last night he slept happily in the crate with its door shut.
Sleeping in the room with him, the lady is able to take him out once in the light to toilet. When he no longer needs to go in the night she will be able to go back to sleeping upstairs.
She has worked hard on the toilet training and it’s now done and dusted. Puppy is just ten weeks old.
Hard work in the early weeks pays off.
Family members come into the kitchen in the morning with bare feet. Merlot loves to bite toes! They have two choices – either to wear shoes or slippers or to offer him an alternative, preferred behaviour.
I favour having a few tug toys out in the hallway. Each time someone comes into the room without shoes, they pick up a toy and have a very brief game of tug as he greets them at the door.
Merlot is very attached to the lady. Bit by bit she is teaching him to be happy left alone for a couple of minutes at a time. She did buy a pen to leave him in, but he simply climbed up the caging like it was a ladder and got out!
So now he’s just inside the door she wants to go out of and it’s hard to get past him. A couple of bits of dry food bounced on the hard floor get his attention and also pairs her brief departures with something good. “Back Soon”.
Habituation to daily life
Most important is ‘socialisation’. This is habituation to life in general during the early months. Already, by taking him out in the car daily, Merlot is no longer frightened of the car.
They are carrying him to places he can meet people and see dogs. Every experience must be a positive one.
We made a start with clicker training. This time it was just to get him to respond to his name and to look at them.
Next time we will use it for a couple of simple cues including hand-touch. This is such a good way to get puppy away from something without using ‘No’ or ‘Uh–uh’.
Over the next ten days they will get Merlot accustomed to the feeling of both a soft harness and a collar – associating their introduction with food or fun.
I will show them how Merlot can walk nicely beside them with no lead at all. the lead can be added later. No rush.
Merlot is an amazing little puppy. Confident without being pushy, relaxed and friendly. Their hard work at this early stage should ensure he remains like this.
Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy by Steve Mann is a must for new puppy owners to read.