The 1st Week at Home


The world is a big place, and it’s even bigger to a new puppy who is discovering the new sights and smells of their new surroundings. With so many new things to see, smell and leaving their mom and siblings behind, it can create puppy anxiety which can result in loud crying and barking for a few days to a week or more depending on the pup.

To help Mia adjust to her new home and her first crate, I brought home a stuffed toy from the breeders with her litter mates scent and bought a big stuffed animal to give her a “body” type item to cuddle up with at night, along with a fleece blanket and a training pad to absorb any accidents she will have.

With these simple items, it didn’t take Mia long to adjust, after night 4 at home, she calmed down and was able to sleep through the night without crying or barking. Once I noticed Mia’s body language start to relax in her new home, outside surroundings and her big sister Ali, I started to work with her knowing her name. So how do you get an 8-9-week-old puppy to know her name? Plain Cheerios! Yes, the kind you eat for breakfast. I use Cheerios because in early training you will go through a lot of treats, and Cheerios are a healthy way to reward your pup for doing the command your teaching correctly.

Before I begin training, whether I am working with Ali my 6-month-old Boxer Mix, or Mia my 9-week-old English Lab, I always take them outside for a nice potty break. Now I am ready to get started with teaching Mia her name while establishing eye contact. I take a few Cheerios in one hand and just start walking around my house, once she isn’t looking or paying attention to me, I say her name “Mia” if she looks at me I reward with a Cheerio and repeat this pattern for about 10 minutes, for a puppy’s attention span isn’t very long at this stage in their lives.

In between commands, I take Mia outside for another potty break. By doing a potty break in between sessions, it provides an opportunity to go potty outside, while giving her a think break before we head back inside to work on another command.

The next command I started Mia on already is the “sit command with hand signal.” I again take a Cheerio, place it between my thumb and middle finger with my pointing finger sticking out. With Mia standing in front of me, I bring up the Cheerio about 9 inches from her face and lift it between her eyes and up over her forehead, making her naturally go into the sit position, once her butt touches the floor I quickly reward with the cheerio and praise. Eventually she will recognize the finger on both left and right hand as the sit command without using a Cheerio as the sit command. Again, I do this for about 10 minutes at a time for that is all she can handle at this stage of her life.

On average, I usually do these little 10-minute sessions about 4-5 times a day, and they will increase to longer sessions as Mia shows me she is ready for more. I believe in letting the dog tell you when they are ready for more by noticing the positive body language they show.

What is coming next for us…

As we continue to work on her name, eye contact and sitting. I will also start to introduce her to a leash along with learning the down command (lay down).

Puppy Tip: This stage of a puppy’s life is very important for their devolvement with you as their owner. Laying a foundation of love and positive relationship with your pup is just as important as learning basic obedience commands.

Also, start researching what kind of training classes are available for you and your pup, for they will need socialization and you as an owner will benefit from it as well, with learning about dog behavior, health tips and training commands. If you’re in the Grand Rapids area I highly recommend Debby Morris, the owner or Paws Unlimited. She has many year of experience and will be able to help you and your pup along the way!

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