Raising puppies from 8 weeks old

In this section, we will give you a range of hints and tips to help you train your pup from the minute you get it home. 

These notes will complement the training course, which your pup can start as soon as your vet says it is safe to have your pup in the company of other dogs, usually 11 to 13 weeks old. 

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The first day

  • Pick up the pup as early in the day as you can so it can have time to settle and explore before bedtime

  • Make sure you have all the equipment you need in advance

  • Decide on where the dog is going to sleep at night and locate the bed in this location from the first moment. 

  • Do not worry if the pup has no appetite, do not offer delicious extras to get the pup to eat. 

  • Take the pup into the garden once an hour and praise and reward if it defecates or urinates

  • Keep an eye on the pup at all times, any tail up and nose down sniffing, especially with circling, should indicate it is time to go to the toilet. 

  • Do not fuss the pup a lot, just be around. Let it get used to you on its own terms, some pups will rush at you and jump all over you but others will take a few hours to be settled with you. 

  • Put a few treats in the bed area so it explores this area on its own before bed. 

The First Night

  • What happens on the first night will depend upon the work done by the breeder. They may have crate trained the pup or trained it to sleep on its own. Some pups will come straight from sleeping with siblings (and maybe even mum) straight to your home and have no coping mechanisms yet to cope with being on their own. 

  • You have already set up the sleeping arrangements and introduced the dog to them during the day. Next ensure the pup has a full tummy and has gone to the toilet, so the pup is ready to settle. It is best to switch the light off and sleep near the pup on the first night. Most people will do this in the living room, person on the settee and the pup in a crate. It can also be done in a bedroom. Over the next few nights, the pup should settle and sleep. If the pup wakes up, and cries for the toilet, take it out but say nothing and pop the pup back to bed as quickly as possible without speaking. Some pups can wake up due to hunger, so it is useful to have a small volume of kibble in the cage so the pup can have a feed and fall back asleep. After a few nights, you should be able to pop the pup away and then leave the room after it settles. 

  • Try to get up early the next day so the pup does not cry you awake, ask the breeder what time the pups normally get up and set the alarm for half an hour before this. 

Day Two Onwards. 

  • Register with a vet, organise the health check and vaccination. It is important the health check is done quickly, as the breeder will have set a time frame in the contract in which you can return the dog if there are any major health concerns and get your money back. It is difficult to return a sick pup to a breeder but it is also difficult and expensive to raise a sickly pup as all insurance companies will exclude many conditions from the policy. 

  • Introduce family and friends. Take the pup to meet friends or ask friends and family to call round. You can take the pup to other people's homes, as long as they either have no dogs or have fully vaccinated dogs and a secure garden. Keep to one or two families per day until the pup has met the whole circle of friends and family. 

  • Let the pup meet the sights, sounds and smells of the world from the safety of your arms. Take the pup out every day, several times a day to get used to the world in which it will be living. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. This early exposure to the world, before the pup develops any fear allows it to accept the strange noises and sights so they never become an issue. There are many socialisation programmes out there that you can follow at this point with checklists so that you do not forget to introduce the pup to anything. 

  • Introduce the pup to friendly well mannered dogs. If any family or friends have nice natured, vaccinated dogs then allow the pup to have play dates with them, either at your home or theirs. but ensure the land is not accessible to other dogs so that the pup is safe from disease. This will allow the pup to build social skills. 

  • Get into a feeding pattern, spread the meals out evenly and each meal should be sufficiently filling that the pup then wants to sleep for an hour or more. Pups should, eat and then play for a while, then sleep. I see many pups who show poor behaviour because they do not have this cycle. They are usually free-fed (food bowl down all the time) and never eat enough at one time to feel really sleepy so they become overtired during the day and become badly behaved because of it. 

  • Time to themselves, from day two it is essential that the pup learns that being on their own is not a bad thing. Go out for 10 minutes and leave the pup. Feel free to leave a stuffed kong or similar with the pup but do not make a big deal of it. Slowly increase the time away until you are happy the dog could be left long enough to suit your life. I suggest a minimum of 2 hours, as you never know what life will throw at you. This will help avoid separation anxiety. 

  • For further information follow the link to this very useful Booklet