Socialize your puppy, it could save their life

The title of this post is not an exaggeration. The vast majority of dogs that end up in shelters are adolescent dogs, whose behaviors were manageable as a puppy, but became major issues as the dog got bigger and harder to handle. Many fearful or nervous dogs were likely not properly socialized as young puppies. They can sometimes be rehabilitated, but it is a long and difficult process.

The socialization window is much smaller than people realize. A puppy’s window to experience new things and absorb and deal with them closes by about 16 weeks. That’s 4 months, which means you have about 2 months to expose your puppy to anything and everything. Note, proper socialization means that you avoid stressful or overwhelming situations. Interactive experiences with humans should be positive, mild and gentle. Let the puppy explore new things at their own pace.

You should socialize every day, but don’t overdo it. Case in point, I had to take Bane back to the vet a couple of days ago because he was having some diarrhea. He also needed a bath, which the vet’s office was going to provide. He ended up being there most of the day, and then we went immediately to have a play date with a 4-month old flat coated retriever. He was definitely overwhelmed, in part from the exuberance of the flattie’s play style, but more so because he had already had a vet examination, a bath, and was likely exposed to quite a few staff members at the vet’s office, who all wanted to cuddle with him. In sum, I made the wrong choice. I should have rescheduled the play session for another day to make sure it would be a positive experience for him. In the end, he still had a good time, but there’s no reason to unnecessarily overdo it.

The link below will provide you with a wonderful checklist that I highly recommend that you use. It categorizes new experiences such as sounds, unfamiliar people, and handling. I will be working my way through it and provide an update on Bane’s progress in a couple of weeks.


Management is your best friend

We dog trainers like to say that behavior modification is always a combination of training and management. This rings especially true when training a puppy. It’s simply not realistic to be in training mode all the time. Right now our daily training includes: crate training, being calm in the ex-pen, name game, sit, touch, and leave it. We break our training sessions into 3-5 minute mini-sessions.

So what do we do when we aren’t training? He is still in the early stages of learning all the appropriate behaviors to be a well-rounded puppy. This is where management comes in. You need to have your eye on the puppy at all times, or he needs to be confined. The only way to realistically keep your eye on them is to have them attached to you. I mean literally attached to you by a leash. It takes about 2 seconds for them to scamper off and eat something they aren’t supposed to or eliminate on the floor. Case in point, I let Bane out of his ex-pen to run around the kitchen while I ran to the bathroom, and of course he took that opportunity to also go to the bathroom inside.

The moral of this story is management works, but only if you actually use it 100% of the time. Any less, and you will have some hiccups.

Potty Training, Oh Vey

This one has been a tremendous challenge for me. I know exactly how to house train a puppy (I even have a chart to track eliminations and puppy events), but we are not making the fastest progress. Let me first say that a puppy can hold its bladder his number of months in age plus one; meaning a 2 month old puppy can hold his bladder a maximum of 3 hours. Let me reiterate that this is a MAXIMUM. Bane goes much more often than that in part due to puppy events.

What are puppy events? Puppy events include feeding, drinking water, playing, and waking up from sleep. Unless your puppy is sleeping 3 hours at a stretch – there is no way you can actually go 3 hours in between eliminations. It’s best if you can get them out within 20 minutes of a puppy event (except waking up from an extended nap, then you need to get him outside immediately).

As I mentioned, the first couple of days were pretty rough when it came to accidents inside the house. I’m anthropomorphizing a bit, but I was getting the distinct impression that if Bane had thumbs, he would have been thumbing his nose at me while he was peeing on my floor. Of course, that may have just been the hallucinations caused by sleep deprivation. At one point I was actually typing a blog entry and saw he was waking up. I thought to myself – just finish typing the next sentence and then take him out. Yep, he completely eliminated his bladder in the course of typing a sentence. That was my bad. Getting them outside sooner rather than later will save you some clean up!

I consider a puppy pretty much house trained if they can go 14 days without an accident inside. Caveat – say your puppy has gone 11 days without an accident, but then has one, you subtract 3 days. So instead of being on Day 11, you are back on Day 8. Well, almost a week into this escapade, and we are still on Day 1. It didn’t help that he had a touch of diarrhea today.

As a side note, if there is an accident in the house be sure to clean it up with an enzymatic cleaner. This is an absolute must. A dog’s sense of smell is leaps and bounds beyond anything we humans could even contemplate detecting. And dogs like to revisit places that they’ve eliminated before, so it is worth investing in a few bottles of Nature’s Miracle or any other enzymatic cleaner.

The First Vet Visit

You will want to take your puppy to the vet as soon as possible – both for the necessary vaccinations as well as to make sure your puppy is in overall good health. Many owners make the mistake of only taking their puppies to the vet for those early vaccinations. When this happens, puppies soon learn that the vet = getting a shot. Not the most fun place to visit, right? You should absolutely stop by the vet regularly, when you don’t have appointments to create a positive association. Have the receptionist and vet techs (and the vet if they have a free second) give the puppy a treat. You can also take this opportunity to weigh them and monitor their growth progress. Trust me – it will be so worth it in the long run to invest the time now in these frequent stop-in visits.

We took Bane to the vet the day after I brought him home. I took a treat bag filled with goodies like meatballs and started feeding them to him the second we walked in the door. As the vet examined him, the vet tech continued feeding him wonderful treats. He seemed pretty comfortable overall, and he didn’t even notice his shot because he was being so loved on by the staff. This is the kind of first visit every new dog owner should strive for.

On another note, if you have to wait in the waiting room, make sure and keep your distance from the other animals. You never know what sort of illness they may have or if they have a sketchy disposition. The other dog owners may want to bring their dogs over, but you have to be your puppy’s advocate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “I’m sorry, but today’s not the best day for our dogs to greet. Maybe next time.”

The First Night

I had two options for Bane the first night. The first being a kennel in my room and the second being his ex-pen. I thought I would play it by ear to see which he was more comfortable in. We started off in the kennel, which I placed on my bed. He cried for a very long time; it broke my heart. I knew it was a little scary for him to be in a confined space without his litter mates and all of the other animals from the farm. I placed a couple of chew toys inside with a few treats. I highly recommend doing all of this, even though in my case, I still only got an hour or two of sleep that first night. It’s a transition period for both pup and owner, and to a certain degree, you just have to roll with it and know it’s not going to be very pleasant.

After he had finally settled, and we both got about a bit of sleep, he started whimpering again, so I took him for a potty. He did go to the bathroom, and I thought we could settle down again. No such luck. I then opted to put him in the ex-pen for a while and tried to sleep on the couch. We both maybe got another hour of sleep. Like I said, it was a rough night, but it’s a lot easier if you go into knowing there’s a solid chance there won’t be much sleep.

Until tomorrow!

Bringing home puppy

Are you thinking about bringing home a puppy or rescue dog? There are many things you need to consider in selecting a new pet for your home, and I plan to write more on that later. This post will focus more on what you need to have the day you pick up your dog. Take into consideration the distance you will be traveling and plan accordingly for food and water. I had about a 3 hour drive home, so that meant at least one potty break for Bane. My kit included: leash, harness, poop bags, 3 types of toys (plush, rope, and rubber). I opted for a laundry basket over a crate for him to ride in. He actually did quite well in the laundry basket and alternated between sleeping and playing with his toys.

When we stopped about midway for the potty break, I realized two things. First, I should have fitted him in the harness before I even started driving home – you don’t want to do that on the fly when a puppy needs to eliminate. Second, puppies. chew. everything. Now, as a dog trainer I know this, but some how didn’t think it would apply to my little guy when it came to the harness and leash. My absolute recommendation to all clients from now on will be a chain leash, which is less fun to chew on. Luckily, I had one in my training bag at home, so we have been using that every since we stepped through the front door.

Next, make sure you have everything set up at home before you leave to pick up your puppy. Where is he going to go after you walk in the front door? Where will he sleep? Where will he eat and drink? Where do you want him to eliminate? Even if you have a plan in place, be prepared to adapt once you’ve gotten home and realize things may not be going as planned. Upon arriving at home, I took Bane straight into the back yard to eliminate again before heading into the house. I had an ex-pen set up with a puppy patch (artificial turf) and some additional toys to play with. He went inside that while I got his food and water prepared.

Having just left a litter of 8 as well as many other dogs and cats on the property, this was a pretty good jolt to his system, and there was a bit of crying. It didn’t help that my 6 yo female Newfie, Uka, had immediately decided she was not his biggest fan. She opted not interact with him, and I needed to respect that (much more on that later). So once I had his food and water ready, I placed it in the ex-pen with him. Next lesson learned – Bane likes the water bowl. A lot. Not so much to drink out of, but more to put his paws in and spill. See what I mean by adapting on the fly? New rule immediately instituted, use as small of a water bowl as possible and monitor him while it’s out. That means a lot of picking up and putting back down, but it is definitely worth it for the time being.

Thus concludes my first hour at home with Bane. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on how he did his first night, his potty training, my initial training sessions with him, and his first vet visit.


Jamie Eaton

Owner, Lewis and Clark Canine Coaching

#RaisingBaneBaneexpen Banelaundry

Welcome to my blog!


Thank you for stopping by to read this blog. I am a positive reinforcement dog trainer, and much of my life revolves around dogs. I plan to share with you the ups and downs of raising my own puppy. In the 3 days since I brought home my newfie puppy Bane, I have done some things well, but there are certainly things I could have done better. Stay tuned for updates on potty training, crate training, integrating a puppy into a home with another dog, and many other topics.

Jamie Eaton

Owner, Lewis and Clark Canine Coaching