Our Goldendoodle| Puppy’s First Day Home

Welcome to my first puppy blog! Five weeks ago today we brought home our 8 week old ‘medium’ goldendoodle, Henry. His expected weight as an adult is between 40 and 50 pounds. Before bringing Henry home I did months of research on puppies. I wanted to make sure I knew as much as possible. I grew-up with a shih-tzu and now my parents have a havenese. My parents used potty pads with both dogs and they were difficult to house train.

I researched different breeds, breeders and also considered adoption. However, most of my research was focused on crate and house training. I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle long-term puppy accidents, so I was determined to train him well! I am not a dog expert and have no education as a dog trainer, but I thought it would be helpful to share what has worked well for us. Here are a few tips that made Henry’s first night home a successful one.

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Tip #1

Setup your puppy’s area and puppy-proof your home before you pup comes home.

In our home, we have an office with its own door to the backyard. This room became our designated puppy room for two reasons: 1) It is small and was fairly easy to puppy-proof; 2) The door to outside would always be in his sight and help with house training. We setup Henry’s crate in this room with his toys and bells on the door to outside. A few days after bringing him home we bought a baby gate to put on the inside door. For about his first two weeks home he rarely left this room. Remember, giving your puppy too much space puts him further away from his “potty place,” which increases the likelihood he has an accident where he’s not supposed to. He has a tiny, weak bladder and is easily confused in his new home.

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Tip #2

When you arrive home, take your puppy directly to his “potty place,” before brining him inside.

Henry’s “potty place” is right outside the office, so he hasn’t been more than 5 feet outside the back of our home. This area is very close to ‘his room.’ From day one, we’ve taken him outside on a leash to do his business. Fortunately, he went potty right away on that first day. We gave him lots of verbal praise then took him inside. I believe his first memory {do dogs have memories like this?} of his new home is where he goes potty.

At the guidance of his breeder, we chose to not use “potty pads” to house train Henry. Each time he comes inside we wipe his paws with a wipe because he does not have all of his vaccine boosters. We’ve gone through a lot of wipes! I know there are some risks taking a new puppy outside before he’s fully vaccinated. I have spoke with a few veterinarians on this topic and suggest everyone do the same. Taking Henry outside to go potty was the right choice for us. We are very lucky that Henry picked up on house training pretty easily and didn’t have many accidents {more to come on house training in another blog}.

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Tip #3

Make his crate inviting and don’t force him in.

When Henry entered his room his crate was setup with the door open. Inside we had a crate pad and the towel he sat on in the car during his ride home. I was a bit nervous about the crate situation because neither of my family dogs took a liking to their crate. We let him explore his new room for a bit and before we knew it, he walked into his crate on his own to lay down. From that moment on, he loved his crate! I originally planned to move his crate into our bedroom next to my side of the bed. I read that this closeness helps the puppy to adjust during their scary first days/weeks in their new home. Since Henry easily went in and out of his crate on his first day home we decided not to move his crate. Our bedroom door is right next to the office door, so we are close enough to hear him at night.

A puppy’s crate is supposed to be his safe place and his natural instincts should prevent them from having accidents in it. I totally understand that this is not the case for every pup! When we took Henry home he was about 9lbs and he started with a 24 inch crate. As most sites suggest, he had enough room to turn around, but not enough room to play. Too much extra space in the crate may cause puppies to go potty on one side and sleep on the other. The crate should only be big enough for relaxing – not relaxing AND potty.

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Tip #4

Stick to a schedule. Day and night.

We brought Henry home on a Sunday afternoon and I was able to stay home the following two days. Starting on the first night we set alarms to wake up every two hours to take Henry outside. I know that some sites suggest not waking your puppy up, but this is the method that we chose and it worked very well for Henry. We chose this method because we wanted him to understand that night time is for sleeping and going potty – not playing. By waking him up we felt were inconveniencing him, not the other way around. For the most part, he was always sleeping when we took him out until he woke up for good around 5am.

We followed the 2 hour approach for about five days then increased to 3 hours. After about another five days we increased to 4 hours. Within three weeks, Henry was sleeping through the night {and so were we} with no accidents. He has never had an accident in his crate and can hold it for 8-9 hours at night. Henry eventually started sleeping later and now wakes up between 6 and 6:45am.

For the first two weeks, we also wrote down every time Henry ate, drank and went potty. This sounds crazy {and like we had a human baby} but it really helped us understand how long he could hold it. During the first two days, we peed 14 times before dinner. We constantly took him outside – whether we thought he had to go or not – to reinforce his “potty place.”

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Tip #5

Be patient.

Patience is not my strongest venture. My husband on the other hand, has the patience of a saint. Brining home a puppy is without a doubt stressful and exhausting. The first few weeks are especially tough, but hang in there! I promise it gets better. Your little guy was taken from his mama and siblings then placed in whole new world. It is going to take some time for him to learn, but he will learn. During the first two weeks Henry went nuts for food and water. I couldn’t imagine that he’d ever sit still or not jump. Here we are 5 weeks out and he plops his little butt down when we bring his food over. Don’t lose hope! The calmer you are, the calmer he will be too. Our next goal is to tackle puppy biting – check back soon!

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