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Thread: Advice on Bringing New Puppy Home and Potty Training with Lead

  1. #1
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    Default Advice on Bringing New Puppy Home and Potty Training with Lead

    Hi Everyone! I've been spending the last few weeks reading as much as I can on this forum in preparation of bringing my little guy home on Saturday. What a wealth of information I've been able to find! He will be 10 weeks old and is the most precious pup I've ever seen -- hubby and I fell in love with him instantly. (I'd post a picture, but the site won't let me???). We think we are going to name him Bailey, but that might change if his personality suggests another name is more appropriate .

    My question is regarding using a collar/harness and lead for potty training. We have a big back yard which is in the process of being fenced in, so I don't really feel like I can just take him out without risking him running away. I know how much puppies really hate wearing a collar/harness at first and also have difficulty with a lead, so I'm a little concerned. Quite frankly, even once the fence is up I'd like to use the lead for potty training so he knows the difference between business and playtime when outside. While I'm not planning to walk him in the yard, rather will carry him out and put him down to you-know-what then carry him back into the house, I'm concerned the initial discomfort of the collar/harness and lead will distract him and render him unable to...ahem...get the job done -- especially when we first bring him home.

    I'd really appreciate any advice you can give on this. Also, I know next Saturday is going to potentially be an overwhelming and scary experience for our little guy and want to make the transition as low stress as possible for him. So any advice you can provide on that would really be helpful too.

    Thanks so much, in advance, for your responses!

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    Congrats on your new puppy! It is a very exciting time I am sure others will have a lot of great advice for you regarding this too, but here is my two sense.
    First, I wouldn't expect too much from your little one those first few days (even weeks) home, in terms of pottying in the right place. He will be pretty confused and just not know what you are trying to expect from him (though...our Brooklyn seemed to get it 50/50 her first week home). So I would maybe expect things like, he is outside, but goes in the "wrong area", he is inside and goes on the floor, he goes right by the door, etc. This is all normal and should be expected.

    Since you have read so much already though (good for you!) I am sure you already know things like...when he goes outside, act like it is the most amazing thing he has ever done! Give him a treat, a cuddle and play for a little outside. When you first take him out, just stand quiet and pretty still, once he "goes, play, treat and all round throw him a parade! He will quickly learn that it is awesome to go outside! And if you stay for a little play (even on-lead play) right after he "goes" it tells him, you get to play after you do your business, not before, so he will be more likely to go vs. play once he learns this. Also, don't wait forever. Wait 10 minutes standing pretty still and calm, if he does not go, take him back inside and then repeat in 10-15 minutes until he goes potty. Yes, he might go again right when you step back inside (don't worry, it happens), but you don't want him thinking that he can be out there for 30 minutes just sniffing and the longer he holds it the longer you will let him be out there and sniff around (trust me, been there...they are smart!). So if he knows, you go back inside no matter what in 10 min, but if you go, we will stay out and play for a while...suddenly you have the upper hand, not him holding it for longer "outside time" if that makes sense.

    As far as the lead goes...Brooklyn was actually okay with this. A bit fussed about it, but okay. Did your breeder have puppy collars on them to help them get used to it? We used a collar and leash right away to "tour" her of our house, driveway, side of house backyard, etc. We spent the first hour in the back yard, letting her sniff, walk around, get familiar. There are SO many new smells that we cannot even comprehend. We stayed out back til her first "potty" just sniffing and walking and sitting and trying to just get her comfortable with the area. Puppies will pee a lot, so eventually she went and we praised the world out of her.
    On this note...of "touring" the grounds of your home and getting them through that first day, Ceasar Milan has an amazing chapter on this is his book How to Raise the Perfect Dog. I, and most people on here do not tend to agree with his "pack/dominance" theories, but I do think he has some really helpful things to offer in terms of those first few days with the puppy and other general things to expect. We followed his "first day home" advice to the T , and it was really helpful I think. Even down to things like getting in the car for the first time on the way home from the breeder: always bring a treat so car = good and let them go in the car on their own to a certain extent (so, put his two front paws on the seat, then sort of guide his bum into the car so he is actually taking the first few steps into the car if that makes sense. He will want to be on 4 legs so he will move forward in order to do so).

    Also, if you havent yet, download the Ian Dunbar "Before you get your puppy" a free PDF book, we all agree that this is a must read before brining puppy home (he also has an "after you get your puppy" free download which is a must read post puppy too). You can get them here: http://www.dogstardaily.com/free-downloads
    His advice on how to set the puppy up in the house and how to house train is so spot on and really works.

    Oh, and on a side note...when just popping the pup out back for a pee, I would just attach the lead to the collar (as long as you are not walking or there is no risk of him pulling or jerking like crazy) because this is less "fussing about" when it comes to putting on a foreign thing, and you don't want him to associate anything annoying or bad about going out for a potty. Once you get him used to the harness and collar, for potty I would say use what ever one you want. To help them get used to it, put it on in stages and give him a treat every time. So (this example is for a collar, but same for harness), put the collar on the ground and let him get close to sniff it. Once he gets close and sniffs it, give him a treat. Then pick up the collar and hold it, once he comes over, give him a treat. Then click the collar open and closed (that clicking sound might be a new sound to him) and when he is curious and not scared, give him a treat. Then place the collar on him (not closed), give him a treat and remove. Then put the collar on him, fasten it, give him a treat...then take it off in a few minutes and put back on again in like 30 minutes with the same fasten and treat and you will find that you can just keep it on longer and longer with him being totally fine with it. That collar desensitization works for anything too...a Broom (sniff/treat, move broom once/treat, sweep twice/treat, etc) a vacuum (sniff the 'off' vacuum/treat, untangle all the cords and attachments/treat, walk around with 'off' vacuum/treat, turn on vacuum but dont move it/treat, move on vacuum/treat). You get the idea, it worked wonders for us for every little thing like the washer to the broom

    Wow. I just wrote a lot! Sorry I rambled, I have not yet had my coffee this morning!!!

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    @BrooklynMom -- Thanks so much for your thorough and thoughtful response! It was not rambling at all and I really appreciate it! I'm definitely going to use your idea of taking him on a little tour of the yard to give him plenty of time to familiarize himself and empty his little body before we take him into the house. I'll also check out Cesar Milan's book for the puppy's first days home. I'm not his biggest fan either with regard to his pack order/dominance approach. I really like Victoria Stilwell and am planning to research if she has any resources out there I can check out.

    Can't wait for Saturday!

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    I'd just add that I'd definitely download Ian Dunbar's book mentioned above -- he is the original not-Cesar-Milan in approach and revolutionised the whole concept of training puppies (as opposed to waiting til they are older) over 30 years ago. Victoria S is great too.

    At the top of this section there's a guide to housetraining pinned at the top.

    There are also numerous training website links that all have great info on all that is involved with settling in and training a new puppy.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Thanks, Karlin. I've downloaded his book and have already read most of it. It's so helpful and I really like that his method is one of setting your puppy up for success, rather than waiting for and correcting the little failures. With my last dog (a cocker spaniel) I dealt with a trainer who had a very different approach to training in general. I would never subject any animal to the types of tactics he recommended!

    My question is really less about housetraining, though, and more about the best way to handle getting him to deal with the collar and lead the first day or two home. I am planning to crate train and am confident that with consistency, patience, focus and love we'll get Bailey learning. I fully expect the process to take months and am not expecting any fast results at all.

    However, with regard to the collar and lead, he has to wear it from the start when we take him out. I don't feel like I'll really have an opportunity to gradually get him comfortable wearing the collar without allowing him to eliminate in the house during the interim (although the approach BrooklynMom explained to gradually familiarize him with it is wonderful and I will do that retroactively and with other scary things in the house). Unfortunately, the breeder does not have the litter wearing puppy collars, so it is going to be something else that is completely new for him. And I have not been able to find any information about how to make wearing a collar from the start as low stress as possible for him.

    Specifically, when should I put it on him? I don't want to do it in the car while bringing him home because I want him to associate the car with good things, not discomfort. However, I'm assuming he'll need to do his business once we get to the house, which means he'll have to be wearing the collar and lead, or I have to bring him inside where he's sure to go on the floor, which feels like we'd be starting off on the wrong foot. Any ideas?

    Maybe I'm worrying to much about this??? I just don't want the day to be too traumatizing for him.

    Thanks again for all your input!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Portia View Post
    Thanks, Karlin. I've downloaded his book and have already read most of it. It's so helpful and I really like that his method is one of setting your puppy up for success, rather than waiting for and correcting the little failures. With my last dog (a cocker spaniel) I dealt with a trainer who had a very different approach to training in general. I would never subject any animal to the types of tactics he recommended!

    My question is really less about housetraining, though, and more about the best way to handle getting him to deal with the collar and lead the first day or two home. I am planning to crate train and am confident that with consistency, patience, focus and love we'll get Bailey learning. I fully expect the process to take months and am not expecting any fast results at all.

    However, with regard to the collar and lead, he has to wear it from the start when we take him out. I don't feel like I'll really have an opportunity to gradually get him comfortable wearing the collar without allowing him to eliminate in the house during the interim (although the approach BrooklynMom explained to gradually familiarize him with it is wonderful and I will do that retroactively and with other scary things in the house). Unfortunately, the breeder does not have the litter wearing puppy collars, so it is going to be something else that is completely new for him. And I have not been able to find any information about how to make wearing a collar from the start as low stress as possible for him.

    Specifically, when should I put it on him? I don't want to do it in the car while bringing him home because I want him to associate the car with good things, not discomfort. However, I'm assuming he'll need to do his business once we get to the house, which means he'll have to be wearing the collar and lead, or I have to bring him inside where he's sure to go on the floor, which feels like we'd be starting off on the wrong foot. Any ideas?

    Maybe I'm worrying to much about this??? I just don't want the day to be too traumatizing for him.


    Thanks again for all your input!

    I am a new puppy owner too and I am not sure my advice is great, but for Sonny we found that he hated his collar from day one. He seemed very uncomfortable and acted very clumsy. However we had also bought a harness and he actually took to the harness almost immediately. It was difficult to take in on and off of him the first couple of days, but he didn't seem uncomfortable at all even the first time after we got it on. We did not put his ID tags on the first couple of days, so that he could get used to the harness or collar with out them. We also would immediately reward Sonny with a special treat after putting his harness on and give him a lot of praise. Now he seems to almost enjoy putting his harness on and just runs to me and helps me get it adjusted on him. We of course do not give him a treat any more for putting it on, but I still give him lots of cuddles as a reward.

    If you are still worried about forcing a collar or harness on to him the first day, I would recommend maybe buying a puppy pen and setting it up in the back yard where you are planning on him going potty. That way you don't have to worry about him running away while you are trying to house break him and it actually will help him differentiate between play time in the back yard and when he is out there to do his business. I actually wish that I had gotten a puppy pen before getting Sonny and using it for potty training in our backyard because I think it would have helped him know where we wanted him to go and made the process go a lot faster. FOr the first couple of weeks that we had him, I think it was confusing for him on whether we were going out to play or go potty. But I am proud to say that we have had him for 6 weeks now and he hasn't had an accident in the house for a week! (knock on wood) I'm anticipating regression at some point and I'm sure there will be many more accidents, but I am really happy with his progress!!!!

    Again I'm a very inexperienced puppy owner, but just thought I would share. Good Luck and Congratulations on your new puppy!!! So exciting. Can't wait to see pics!

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    ashleighelizabeth -- a puppy pen. That's BRILLIANT!!! I was planning to get one for the house anyway. I don't know why I didn't think of it. I will pick one up tomorrow afternoon. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

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    Puppy pen is a great idea! Just make sure you keep an eye on him so he can't escape as they are not aways the sturdiest great idea though while he gets used to a collar!

    Also, could you ask your breeder to put a puppy collar on your pup? They are the safe release kind that just pop off if pulled so they can't hurt themselves. Or maybe offer to bring her one to put on your pup?

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    I hope things are going well! Nalu rides in the car in a carrier, and feels safe in there. Her first ride home was four hours and I didn't hear a peep. She's comfortable riding in a car in a crate. I didn't make a big deal out of the leash and harness and she was so excited to check out her new surroundings. When we get to the door where I put on her accessories I sound very excited ("Oh we're going outside!") When it's time I tell her "go pee" or "go poo" so she knows what I expect. When she goes I say "good pee!!" It didn't take long to connect the dots and understand the words. She hates it when I carry her, and her trainer said it's best for her self-esteem not to be carried ( but I love to carry her!) She also prefers to choose where she goes and does a great job of picking the perimeter. They're smart. Keep in mind they pick up on your energy, so stay cool and be patient and try to have fun with all the stress.

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    Thanks everyone! Bailey has been doing great. The puppy pen has been working well, and now the fence is up so he can run around as he pleases -- which he loves! He's getting the hang of going outside too and we've had very few accidents in the last week. Thanks again for all your help -- I love how supportive everyone on this forum is!

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