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Hello,
I thought I would share my experience as a first-time puppy owner and what I've seen are the most important aspects (and products) to have in mind when you are a first-time dog owner. I apologize in advance if many of these have been said previously on the forum. I just wished I found such a post when I brought my dog a home.

1. Do not let your dog sleep with you (or make sure you are going to do that for the rest of his life. It is difficult to un-train a dog.
There is plenty literature on the internet for the reasons not to do it, as well as for the benefits. Having a second dog who initially slept with us I saw how difficult was to teach her to sleep downstairs and how easy was for us to have the puppy (him) sleep from the beginning downstairs.

2. Buy a Gentle Leader. I wish I did that from day 1 with him. I tried everything to teach him not to pull...and nothing worked until I used this type of harnesses. It is God sent. If you realize you do not need it you wasted $15 (on Chewy.com).

3. In the first 2 weeks of our cohabitation, I did not want to leave him alone (with the old dog only) downstairs, so I brought a mattress in the living-room and I slept at the same floor. I did that to wake up each time I would hear him he wants to go out. It worked as he was housebroken in literary 3 weeks, at the most. He pooped in the house 5 times in his lifetime and he peed some inside but no more than maximum 3 weeks.

4. Make sure you are at home in his first month with you. It helps a lot to be there all the time, and to take him out every hour or so, so he does not develop a habit of peeing in the house.

5. Something that is rather difficult to change - but it helped me tremendously - are tiles in kitchen / hall way. Cleaning after his mess was a breeze and there was no spot that preserved the urine smell. Tiles help you a lot with not getting frustrated and yelling at your dog. I personally NEVER yelled at him when he soiled the house. Again, cleaning tiles or linoleum, is as easy as it can be.

6. Gate your formal rooms for a while at least. Gating my living-room helped me always be relaxed. I cannot stress out enough the benefits of gating the rooms. He had plenty room in the kitchen and hallway when I was not at home, and when I was at home he had free access to the dining-room as well. Plus a huge fenced back yard.

7. Stop waking up with him / for him after 2-3 weeks. When my vet saw me how tired I was, he told me that I will have a very un-trained dog and I am going to be a very tired person if I keep waking up with him. The vet said to let him sleep downstairs throughout the night and if he cries to buy a pair of earplugs. In less than 48 hours my dog was sleeping all night long and more importantly I was sleeping all night long as well.

8. Because of the tiles and gates, I did not need to crate my dog. Thank God, he does not like to chew much. So far, nothing had been chewed other than an ugly pair of plastic slippers. All my other shoes are in a shoe drawer ( BTW - excellent investments to keep your home clean and organized:)
If you decide to crate your dog, however, make sure you keep doing it. Not being consistent does not help you and the dog.

In conclusion:
doing all these I have never gotten frustrated with him and punished him because he ruined something. I did not give him many chances to do that. We work now on not jumping on people. The Gentle Leader solved the pulling problem (he is an English Cocker Spaniel) and these dudes tend to be very excitable.

I hope this helps. Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of gates (it prevents you from getting frustrated and punishing your dog hours after he did something wrong)

And of course, for me at least - the Gentle Leader was a miracle.
 

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This is all pretty good.

The only part I disagree with is the gentle leader. All that "stuff" including no pull harnesses etc. is never a replacement for training.

If you are training and your dog still pulls, then you need to up the ante on your training skills, NOT put a device on the dog that physically prevents them from doing a behavior (but does not teach them anything!).
 

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Not sure I agree with some of those.

Crate is a MUST IMO, for housebreaking. And you can teach the dog to sleep in a crate next to you at night too. But yes, at first having the crate downstairs is easier for housebreaking.

I also sleep with my dog because I like it, lol.

But yes, I second the gates - we still have one in the family room for our 16 month old dog. We still crate her when we leave though, but we have kids who leave stuff everywhere...
 

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I live in Australia where crates arent used/overused like they are in the US. In 27 years of having dogs i have never had to use a crate.

I can understand using them at night time for a pup placed next to the owners bed to help with toilet training, but that would be about as far as i would go. I would never, ever put my dogs in a crate during the day while i go out, no way!!
 

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For me, crates are a MUST. I don't want to come home to a puppy that chewed the sofa, table, bed, chairs, carpet, etc and, now has a blockage that requires an immediate trip to the vet for surgery. I refuse to spend all day following a puppy around, cleaning up after it everywhere in the house and, the dog isn't going to sleep in my bedroom, that's off limits to pets. Until they learn, a crate is easier on me an on them.
 

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I'm incredibly fortunate that I've never had a chewer or a house destroyer. Having said that, I've never left my dogs home alone for hours on end either, so obviously this has something to do with it.
On the days i do have to go out, i make sure they get exercised fully before i leave, so they're tired and not wound up and likely to get bored which is when they tend to get up to mischief.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I'm incredibly fortunate that I've never had a chewer or a house destroyer. Having said that, I've never left my dogs home alone for hours on end either, so obviously this has something to do with it.
On the days i do have to go out, i make sure they get exercised fully before i leave, so they're tired and not wound up and likely to get bored which is when they tend to get up to mischief.
I actually agree with crating if you do not have a confined area with little to none to chew - like it's my kitchen and hallway. I have seen many messy houses because of un-crated / un-confined dogs. It would be impossible to sleep with my dog, unless I give him a bath every night :) But, again those were my experiences. In the end, however, it is probably a mix of genes and environment. He is a pretty mellow and cooperative dog - given my lack of training abilities

For me, crates are a MUST. I don't want to come home to a puppy that chewed the sofa, table, bed, chairs, carpet, etc and, now has a blockage that requires an immediate trip to the vet for surgery. I refuse to spend all day following a puppy around, cleaning up after it everywhere in the house and, the dog isn't going to sleep in my bedroom, that's off limits to pets. Until they learn, a crate is easier on me an on them.

I completely agree with you
 

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I actually agree with crating if you do not have a confined area with little to none to chew - like it's my kitchen and hallway. I have seen many messy houses because of un-crated / un-confined dogs. It would be impossible to sleep with my dog, unless I give him a bath every night :) But, again those were my experiences. In the end, however, it is probably a mix of genes and environment. He is a pretty mellow and cooperative dog - given my lack of training abilities




I completely agree with you
Yes, well, with wolfdogs, even walls, baseboards and doors are subject to becoming chew toys so, a room doesn't work. I have never given them the chance as puppies to get that destructive but my granddaughter's father in law had a bit over 5,000 USD in replacing and repairing his home after leaving a 6 month old wolfdog home alone for two hours, locked in the bathroom. The dog clawed and chewed her way out of the bathroom, destroying the door, then took after the carpet in the living room, the sofa and, the hall baseboards. Two hours and three rooms destroyed. With a wolfdog, house broken has nothing to do with where they go potty if you leave them home alone and bored indoors. You crate them or, leave them in their outdoor, escape proof pen.
 

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Good advice.

While it would be nice to take a month off when you get a puppy, that's not really feasible/realistic for most people. We had almost two weeks off when we got our first puppy (because it was over the Christmas break). That was enough. With our second puppy I think we only had 3 days over a long weekend.

Crating is definitely a must.

One more piece of advice - expect your life and routine to change - because it will.
 

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Totally agree with the use of a crate. Especially if you have a high energy working dog and you leave the house. Chewing and blockages are one concern. Another is chewing an electrical cord or appliance and (at the least) killing the dog and (at the worst) burning the house down.
 
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