If you just brought your new precious puppy home and you’re totally overwhelmed, just know, you’re not alone. I was in this exact same position. Before bringing my puppy home, I was 100% sure that I would not feel this way. I wanted my puppy soOoOoOoOo badly and read every blog post and watched every video about bringing home and training a new puppy and was so sure I was ready. But then my puppy came home and the nerves kicked in. I called my mom and told her that I think I made a huge mistake. (Spoiler alert, it was not a huge mistake…it was the best thing I think I’ve ever done).
If you’re about to bring your new puppy home and you’re in the stage of reading every blog post like I did, I’m glad I can be part of that journey for you. Inevitably at some point, it’ll feel a little rocky but don’t panic, I’m here for you and will walk every step of this journey with you. Disclaimer, I'm a very pro crate-training dog owner. If that’s not for you, skip #2. Let’s get on with it.
Here’s what I wish I knew:
1. It’s all worth it
Let me tell you right now: Every ounce of energy you put into this little puppy of yours is worth it. Your puppy will be your best friend, I promise. As I’m writing this, my little puppy that I fussed so intensely over is cuddled right in my lap snoozing away. It’s so worth it. Don’t give up.
2. The Crate is your Best Friend
I was determined to crate-train my puppy and it was not easy. He cried... a lot. So much that I also cried...a lot. I worked with a positive reinforcement trainer to make sure I was going about it as nicely as possible but it was a challenge...and that’s putting it nicely. BUT we stuck with it and now the crate is his comfort space. He goes into it on his own when he wants to take a nap, when he feels overwhelmed or when he just needs a little time on his own. See my full post on crate training my dachshund here
3. Accidents happen and it’s ok (they will probably pee on your carpet)
All puppies are challenging to house train but Dachshunds are (literally) another breed; they’re notoriously difficult. They’re known to hate going outside in any weather that’s not ideal (ie. too cold, too wet, too hot) they’d rather just pee in the comfort of their own home...duh. Pick the method you’re going to use (ie. pee pads, grass patch, indoors, outdoors etc) and stick with it. Get on a schedule and stick with it like the price stickers that leave a sticky residue no matter how hard you scrape. Check out my full post on potty training my dachshund. (Disclaimer, you can, of course use my potty training tips for any breed...in fact it’ll probably work phenomenally for other breeds because many other breeds don’t require the type of discipline that a doxie does)
4. Mental Stimulation is the key to success
Seriously. Mental stimulation IS the one key factor in having a wonderfully well behaved & trained dog. Physical exercise is great but a trainer told me that if you only physically exercise your dog, you’ll have a dog who can run a marathon but is bored... and a bored puppy is a destructive puppy. So they have tons of physical energy that they can use to run wild in your house. Mental stimulation can look like a ton of different enrichment activities but I put together a list of my favourite ones (with examples & Instructions) in this post.
5. Desensitize them to everything you can (slowly)
When your puppy is young, they’re just getting used to the world around them. Make it a point to slowly and positively expose them to all kinds of sights, sounds, smells, and people. This is such a simple mental exercise and can be as easy as putting on different hats/jackets/masks to change your physical appearance or bringing out the vacuum (more examples for desensitization in this post). It’s so important that your puppy gets used to different people, items, and sounds at this age so they don’t become fearful and reactive later.
6. Dog Food Has Changed
I’m not here to tell you what, or how to feed your puppy / dog. Only to provide you information about how I feed my dog and the path that I took to end up where I am. What I will say is that the days of going to the pet store and buying the generic puppy kibble are long gone. If you choose to go the kibble route, there are hundreds of kibble brands to choose from and sub brands within those brands. On top of that, there are more and more raw food brands coming out that believe in feeding a dog food they would naturally eat. I have fed both kibble and raw to my dog and have found a diet that works best for him. If you want to see more about that, check out this post.
7. Your puppy might get a Parasite
Parasites are a super common thing for puppies and new puppy owners to have to deal with. They can come from all kinds of places, they can get them from their mother, from licking stagnant water (think puddles, ponds), or from eating soil or poop that’s infected. Our puppy had not one, but two parasites and I wrote the whole experience down here.
8. Puppy School
Joining a puppy class near you is a great way to build your relationship with your dog while getting some professional help with training your puppy. It’s also a great mental workout for your dog; every time we would bring our puppy to puppy class he would sleep the rest of the day away.
9. Take it Easy
It might feel like there’s a rush to get everything done all at once. Maybe you’ll go to puppy class and see the dog beside you already sits on command. It’s ok. Your dog will get there in their own time and eventually, they’ll all be at the same level. Keep your focus on your own dog and be proud of what they ARE accomplishing every day.
10. Have Some YOU Time
Some of the best advice I ever got from a trainer was actually for me (the human). She told me to go for a walk alone. To put my puppy in his crate and go for a 20 minute walk outside. This was especially useful when we were having so much trouble and stress with our puppy crying in the crate all the time. Taking time for yourself will help you feel more level headed, in turn helping you, your puppy and everyone around you.
Just remember, every ounce of energy you put into your puppy will come back to you a hundred times over. They’ll be your best friend for life and will be there for you when you can’t count on anyone else. It’s all worth it.