Puppy Kindergarten:


You too can survive the first few days

Hooray! You successfully brought home a new puppy, now what?

I've been in your shoes before. The day I was scheduled to pick my puppy, I woke with my heart pounding and mind racing. Though I've seen my parents raise puppies when I was younger, it's a different story when the responsibility is all on you.

I just couldn't contain my excitement on the way back, kept stealing glances at the cute passenger nested in the backseat carrier. When I turned the lock and set the golden-brown German shepherd puppy down, I just stood there admiring it, welcome to kindergarten: now what?

I'll let you in on everything I did before adopting a puppy and how I survived the first few days with my 8 weeks old puppy.

Your Puppy's first check-up

In all our previous "pre-puppy adoption" articles, we've always stressed the need to find a vet before you get the breeder's "come get your puppy" invitation. Your first stop with your puppy should be the vet's office. After your pet's vet is done examining your puppy to assess health status, he/she will offer diet recommendations, grooming and care, and will schedule series of vaccination shots over the next few months.

Provided your pets doesn't have an underlying congenital condition, its overall wellbeing may very well depend on how strictly you follow the vaccination schedule and vet's advice. 

Feed Him Well 

At 8 weeks plus, your puppy's system is already used to a specific brand of food and a feeding schedule introduced by the breeder. So, trust me. When your breeder recommends a brand and a feeding schedule, the smart thing to do is follow it.

If your vet's recommendation differs from your breeder's or maybe you already bought a different food brand, you need to introduce the new brand slowly. The magic formula is 3:1, that's three parts of the food it is used to and one part of the new brand.

Crate Training Guide 

 A den provides an animal like a dog a safe and secure place to hide from danger, raise young ones, and get a peaceful sleep. The idea behind a crate is to provide your domesticated dog a safe place it can adopt as a den, and because a dog will not want to soil their sleeping place, a crate-trained dog will learn to ease itself whenever it is let out of the crate. Here's how to get your puppy started:

Introducing a crate:

  • Make sure your dog's crate is very comfortable. A soft blanket, towel and some toys will do.
  • Some puppies will be curious and start exploring the crate right away, but if your dog picks no interest in the crate, you can bring them over with some treats.
  • Play around, placing food treats around the crate and encourage your dog to eat them.
  • Go slow. Place one at the crate's entrance and wait for your puppy to approach.
  • Gradually increase the distance, place food treats further into the crate. If they are nervous and refuse to go all the way in, do not force it. Remember, you want your dog to associate crating with a pleasant experience.

Feed your puppy in the crate:
  • Start feeding your puppy regular meals in the crate. If your puppy is already entering the crate without holding back, you can push the food bowl all the way to the back. Else exercise patience, place food bowl at the entrance or halfway into the crate.
  • Once your dog is inside, close the crate door until it is done eating. Increase the duration door stays close with each successive feeding.

Increase crating duration:

If your dog is now eating regular meals in the crate, congratulations you're halfway through. Now it's time to increase crate time gradually until your puppy can spend 30 minutes alone without feeling anxious or scared: Crate while you're at home, at night, when going on short errands.


Do not use the crate as a way to punish your dog, it will learn to associate the crate with something it has done. If your puppy whines when in the crate do not let it out until it stops whining else, it may use whining as a way to get out of the crate.

House Training 

Depending on the size of your dog, house training might be longer or shorter than expected, so patience and consistency are important. When you begin to house train your dog, follow these simple steps:

  • Establish a routine: What goes into the puppy on schedule comes out on schedule. Puppies can hold their bowl for an hour per month of age: two months old puppy can hold up for two hours max.
  • Dogs have a good sense of smell, taking the puppy to the same spot every time will help it remember where to do its business as time goes on.
  • Reward your puppy every time it eliminates waste outside the house
  • Take your puppy outside first thing in the morning, after every meal, the last thing at night and every 30-45 minutes in between.

If your dog starts to whine, sniff and circle, bark or scratch the door. Then you should take him to the potty location right away. Remember accidents happen, that's why we advised you shop for floor cleaning tools; here's the list that'll increase your chance of success

Bottom line 

By 8-12 weeks your puppy is growing and learning as fast as it can. It can seem like a blink of an eye before your puppy is all grown up, our advice? Take lots of pictures, your dog will be a "cute puppy" only once.

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Puppy Training and Socialisation
Homecoming: Bringing your puppy home.