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Advice for First-time Puppy Parents!

I get a lot of calls from first-time puppy parents who have a puppy between 8 and 16 weeks of age calling about behaviour problems. True behaviour problems are rarely present in dogs of this age so I hope this blog will help first-time parents tell what they might be seeing in their young puppy.

Puppy attention-spans vary widely in the 8- to 16-week age range but attention rarely lasts longer than 5-10 minutes. You risk training difficulties if you push your training sessions longer than 5-10 minutes at this stage. Many families get into trouble by starting ALL the training on day one when this is rarely developmentally appropriate. Please keep expectations reasonable and remember that dogs in the 8- to 16-week age group are effectively still "toddlers".

First-time parents also get into trouble trying to walk their young puppies. This is rarely a good use of your training efforts between 8 and 16 weeks of age. Young puppies first need to learn how to navigate their homes, pee, and play areas. Don't pick up your puppy and carry it everywhere or it will never learn how to navigate the home, yard and surroundings otherwise. On the other hand, your first few weeks are an ideal time to teach your puppy how to get in and out, how, when and where to pee and poo, how and when to play, and how and when to snuggle!

The biggest problem new puppy parents get into is forgetting to make sure their puppy is happily "eating its broccoli" before it gets "dessert". This applies to the questions:

- when, where, and how to pee and poop

- when, where, how and what to eat

- when, where, and how to play, explore and exercise

- where to relax and sleep

- where to be cuddled and where to be left alone

- when to be on the bed or in the crate

- when to be confined / how to respond to supervision

If you are doing all these things properly -- at the developmentally-appropriate time for your puppy, then you should be doing ok. Otherwise, or if you're not sure, don't hesitate to Contact Us


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