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Sometime in the not-too-distant future, I'll be getting a new (probably Boxer) puppy to add to the family. Until then I'll be continuing to read everything I can on here to be as prepared as possible... but it's no secret that real life is often different than a book.

So for those of you that have done your homework and also put it to use successfully with a puppy, please give me an idea of what to expect. Or if things just went way different than you expected and you have some great/funny stories to share please feel free.

From the things I've already read here like the stickied article from Dr Ian Dunbar I plan to:
1. Be home with the dog so it will never be alone during the day.
2. Spend a significant part of the day outside on walks or in our fenced in back yard with the kids and puppy.
3. Crate train. (if done properly do dogs prefer to sleep in the crate rather than in your bedroom on the floor... dog will never be allowed in the actual bed?)
4. Set up a gated play area with crate, water bowl, kong toys stuffed with kibble etc (probably in kitchen)
5. Spend a lot of time clicking and reinforcing.

Anyway, what i find strange is that I have all of these "goals" in mind for myself, but I still can't really picture how a typical day actually plays out. Do you spend most of your time outside with him teathered to your belt just having a good time loving each other while trying to reinforce as much good behavior as possible? Do you confine the puppy to the play area for most of the day as Dr. Dunbar suggests to help time out potty training attempts?

Hopefully it's not like going into battle where all of the tactics and strategy go out the window when the shooting (peeing) starts. If that's the case you'll be treated to one funny picture thread! :)
 

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Like you, I read a ton of material before bringing our puppy, Katie, home: several general dog and breed-specific forums, Good Owners, Great Dog by Kilcommons (not my favorite), The Dog Whisperer and The Puppy Whisperer by Owens (absolutely fabulous!!!), How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves by Yin (very good), and a little of Before and After You Get Your Puppy by Dunbar (left me feeling incredibly overwhelmed and anxious). Katie was 5 1/2 months old when we brought her home, so she had been crate and house trained, and was past the tiny puppy / chew monster phase. I was still completely unprepared for the amount of time required to properly care for her (and I still worry that I'm not doing enough). I'm not sure I can give advice, but I have learned a few things in the past four months.

Celebrate every achievement - even the smallest thing is a huge deal! Don't beat yourself up over setbacks - they'll happen. Learn from them and move on.

Don't compare yourself or your dog to anyone else. I keep reading about folks who've taught their dogs a dozen cues in a week and my dog has only reliably learned three in a month. The fact that she still doesn't know "go to your mat" or how to play fetch makes me feel like a horrible caretaker. But dogs don't behave like the rats and pigeons in my undergrad textbooks or the dogs in training books or like any other dog here. She's unique - she has her own background (essentially free play for 5 1/2 months, with very little training) and personality (very much "what's in it for me") - and will respond and learn at her own pace. We enrolled in a training class. Even though we both understand learning theory, it was a huge help to have some guidance with Katie specifically. Having her interact with other dogs was great, too.

Plan for everything to take more time that you expect. I honestly thought I could spend at least a half hour every morning training - I can't. The "extra time" I had in the morning is spent on potty trips, some running in the yard, and returning her to her crate to wait for my husband to get up. With our evening walk and/or yard play, both our dinners, and some training, there's little time for much else in the evening. Right now we don't spend a ton of time outside - even though it's been a mild winter (I'm outside Philadelphia), it's still cold to me.

Even though she was older, we kept her confined for the first few weeks, gradually allowing her more freedom. We've gotten tons of use from a pair of baby gates and we don't have kids.

Katie's crate is in our bedroom and she slept in it until just recently (right around her 9 month b-day). She willingly goes into her crate when we're in the bedroom (day or night), but we've recently starting giving her more freedom, so she's free-range (in the bedroom only) at night. She spends most of the night curled up next to me - on the bed. My only concerns are the dirt - eek! - and the safety of her jumping off the bed. I wouldn't expect her to sleep on the floor - she has a foam mat in her crate and we'll get her a proper dog bed once we move the crate out of the bedroom. (maybe you didn't mean directly on the floor?)

Someone else can give better advice, but I do wonder about not leaving the puppy alone and spending a significant part of you time with him. I agree that he shouldn't be uncrated and unsupervised, but I wonder if it would be good to gradually start allowing him time to entertain himself and be alone in the house. That way if (when) he needs to be alone (crated until he's older), it won't be a huge shock. Same thing with allowing him to entertain himself; everyone - you, your family, and your puppy - needs some downtime. Maybe I'm reading your comment wrong.

Kongs and other food-dispensing toys are fabulous! They keep your pup occupied allowing you to get stuff done and, if you have a dog that tends to gobble his food, they moderate eating pace. Katie has a regular kong, a kong bone, a bob-a-lot and a hollow stick style toy that she loves; she's not thrilled with her tug-a-jug.

Our daily schedule

4:30/5 - 6:30 : I'm up, potty break, shower & dressing for work, breakfast
~7/8 - ~9:30/10 : husband up, long walk, he gets ready for work
10 - 4/4:30 : we're at work, Katie is plotting to take over the world (or sleeping in her crate) - she has a kong chew and nylabone, plus water in her crate
4/4:30 - 8 : I'm home, potty break, shorter walk and/or running in yard, dinner for both of us, training, several more potty breaks
8 - 10 : cuddle time, final potty break

Hope that helps! Good luck with your search for the perfect pup!
 

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No matter how much you read, how many things you buy, and how much research you do, you are never truly prepared.

Owning a puppy is the most exhausting thing EVER. Your first few weeks will have you walking around like a zombie. Nothing ever seems to go right, and the minute you think you've made progress, the dog goes and does something you never thought was possible - and it usually means something was destroyed in the process.

The energy a puppy has is unending. Don't plan on showering, going out, or doing much of anything. Your house will be a mess with crates and pens, and poop and pee. You will cry. You will be depressed. You will wonder why the hell you subjected yourself to any of this.

If you can get through all that, then it really DOES get better.
 

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The first 3 weeks were much harder than the first 7 months! Come on here, get support, stick to your plan.

I used to think training was something dogs didn't want to do, but had to because it was required. I've actually found that training time is looked forward to by both me and my pups. It really is a bonding time and quite pleasurable for all concerned.
 

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From the things I've already read here like the stickied article from Dr Ian Dunbar I plan to:
1. Be home with the dog so it will never be alone during the day.
Disagree. I start the puppy on pretty much the schedule they are going to be expected to be on from the get-go. I think you can run into major issues if you NEVER leave the puppy home alone. You have to teach the puppy that being alone is not scary. You're setting yourself up for separation anxiety or something similar if you stay with the puppy 24/7. That's not realistic, the dog is going to need to be left alone some times.

2. Spend a significant part of the day outside on walks or in our fenced in back yard with the kids and puppy.
Good but don't overdo it. Pups need plenty of downtime as well. See #1, you can inadvertently create a monster that never settles at all. Also be careful with forced exercise on a growing puppy. You shouldn't do any hard running for miles on pavement or anything like that till the dog's growth plates are closed.

3. Crate train. (if done properly do dogs prefer to sleep in the crate rather than in your bedroom on the floor... dog will never be allowed in the actual bed?)
Crate training is good. My dogs sleep on my bed at night.

4. Set up a gated play area with crate, water bowl, kong toys stuffed with kibble etc (probably in kitchen)
Good idea, I still do this with my adult dogs.

5. Spend a lot of time clicking and reinforcing.
Good. Reward behavior you like, redirect where needs be.

Anyway, what i find strange is that I have all of these "goals" in mind for myself, but I still can't really picture how a typical day actually plays out. Do you spend most of your time outside with him teathered to your belt just having a good time loving each other while trying to reinforce as much good behavior as possible? Do you confine the puppy to the play area for most of the day as Dr. Dunbar suggests to help time out potty training attempts?
You play by ear. Everything depends on the individual puppy. I find keeping relaxed and just having fun is the easiest way to raise a puppy. Reinforce behavior you want and redirect behavior you don't. Socialize, socialize socialize! Some puppies I've had have been dreams that never chewed anything and just fit right in. Some are harder.

Mia was a hard puppy that never quit moving, screamed when she was left alone, resource guarded, peed on anything in the floor, screamed when you put the leash on her, and tore up anything she could get in her mouth (glasses, couch, cables, the carpeting, paper, trash, etc etc). She's grown into a wonderful dog and all she's needed was some guidance. Mia did end up tethered to me a lot because of her potty training problems, but none of my other pups have had to be. Like I said, you're going to have to adapt to the pup most importantly.

I find puppy raising absolutely wonderful. It's so neat to see them start figuring things out and to experience things for the first time. Taking Mia for her first walk at my college campus was in particular just awesome. Everything was so exciting to her.

I think people sometimes get too involved in micromanaging things and they miss out on all the fun that having a puppy offers! And inadvertently you can obsess so much about things being perfect or when your puppy does something wrong that you create more undesirable behavior.
 

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Patience is something I do not possess and agree 100% withtitiaamor. Puppies like children seek guidance and need to socialize via training. Along with plenty of time outside to exercise and address the endless supply of pee (as they develop muscle control), my shepherd responded to being given tasks. And lots of chews to stimulate powerful jaws and use razor sharp teeth in a non-destructive manner. Crating him was important especially when I need to be away for a few hours.
 

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For what it's worth, I'll give you the benefit of my 5 & 1/2 weeks experience which does have the advantage of being fresh! I'll call the pup 'he', cos that's what mine is :)

First day/night: You will have your eyes on the pup constantly. Nevertheless, he will be exploring his new world and the very second he wanders two inches out of view behind the sofa, he'll pee. You'll rush him outside but his tiny bladder is already empty. That night the pup will cry when you go to bed, whether he's in your room or not. Advice: Make sure you already have the enzyme spray to clean up. Take him out more than you can believe is sane, and any time you might be zoning out of watching him - this will be a theme for several days at least! Get him used to sleeping in the crate from now, if he cries in the night take him out silently and straight back to bed after he finishes.

Days 2-5: He'll gradually have to go out less often and you'll start to be able to predict it. He'll still get away from you and puddle somewhere, and every time you'll kick yourself because you thought 2 minutes ago 'I should probably take him out now':doh:. Your days will go something like:

Hour 1: Get up, take him out, back inside, feed him, play, rest (either with you or in the crate, mix it up).
Hour 2: Take him out, back inside, play, rest, take him out, back inside, play, rest
Continue to lunch, then take him out, back inside, feed him, play, then see hour 2 until tea...etc, you get the picture!
He'll cry less each night, assuming you never pander to it.

I'm the most laid back bloke in the world and nothing gets to me. About day 4 I was sobbing on the bed telling my wife I didn't think I could cope with it and I wanted to give him up. Mentally exhausted doesn't even cover it, but if you've had kids I'm sure you have a good idea of what to expect! STICK WITH IT!

Sometime in week 2 you'll suddenly realise what a different dog he is and how you've adapted to understand his rhythms. How you can pop him in his crate while you go read on here about training ideas and he'll just settle down and sleep until you let him out.

Now Alfie has had his jabs and his toilet training our day has a different profile:
Up, out to toilet, in, breakfast, followed by some play time, or a 20-30 min walk, ideally past the local school as all the kids are arriving.
Home, make sure he has a filled Kong and some chew toys, hope he entertains himself for a bit. If not, pop him in the crate so I can work.
Wife gets up, lets him out (if in crate), toilet trip, they have a cuddle and a rest, then some training.
Lunch, toilet trip, some play time, top up the Kong and toys, settle down and rest time, or in the crate again if there's something specific needs doing.
Afternoon walk with recall training on the long lead, home, mental 10 minutes with the zoomies (95% hit rate on this :D), plus toilet trip.
Dinner, rest until bedtime excepting a few toilet trips and 5 minutes settling down time after coming back in.

The exceptions to this are we'll bin a walk if we have something else planned, such as puppy class, vets, or a pub visit
 

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Good grief, I'm wordy. Sorry.

One more thing, expect to significantly increase your talk of bodily functions. My husband and I have at least one conversation a day about the frequency, color, and/or consistency of dog poop. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow awesome responses so far, thanks everyone! So let's keep the dialog going...
I was still completely unprepared for the amount of time required
-The only reason I'm no so worried about this is that I've done this with two children fairly recently, so I'm just making assumptions that it will take a similar amount of time/effort/exhaustion :)
and we'll get her a proper dog bed once we move the crate out of the bedroom. (maybe you didn't mean directly on the floor?)
- No, I'd also be getting one of those soft dog beds... I just wondered if people crate train right in the bedroom or if they do it as far out of earshot as possible and then when they're comfortable in the crate eventually transition them into the bedroom. Also, thanks for the great book recommendations!


Disagree. I start the puppy on pretty much the schedule they are going to be expected to be on from the get-go. I think you can run into major issues if you NEVER leave the puppy home alone.
- Great point LL, but I think my wording was a bit confusing. I'll be at home for the next couple of years watching my kids and going to school at nights so it is in fact the schedule for the medium term future. You bring up a good point though that I will have to get my puppy accustomed to being alone sometimes to so when that schedule changes there aren't any problems... almost like another thing to "train." You and titiaamore have great advice about not treating the training process like a chore and instead enjoying for the great bonding time that it is. Mia is beautiful btw! :)


Bruce, thanks for the awesome first hand experience!
I'm the most laid back bloke in the world and nothing gets to me. About day 4 I was sobbing on the bed telling my wife I didn't think I could cope with it and I wanted to give him up. Mentally exhausted doesn't even cover it, but if you've had kids I'm sure you have a good idea of what to expect! STICK WITH IT!
- Again this sounds a lot like bringing home a newborn ;) which I'm quite familiar with so I feel extra prepared for the effort it takes to raise a puppy... and as massochistic as it sounds, I'm still really looking forward to it!


Also, I forgot to add that I plan to potty train directly outside from the beginning and skip the pee pads. I might do the Ian Dunbar trick and put a swath of turf inside a litter box for inside the play pen area so that all he/she is used to is going on grass/dirt. The outside time is really just so that the whole family is out getting fresh air and the potty training is less messy inside... no real crazy biking or running etc.
 

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As much in love with my puppy as I was, and still am, it was an exhausting first few months between watching her constantly and getting up throughout the night for potty breaks. For overnight potty breaks, definitely set yourself up with your robe & slippers (or coat & shoes) at the bedside & a flash light if your potty area isn't illuminated.

I liked Dr. Dunbar's puppy playroom idea very much but I didn't force a crate on my pup. She went in on her own but cried and cried if the door was closed. I could get her in when she was sleeping but as soon as she woke up, the crying started in. Maybe some might say I'm too soft but I just couldn't force her to stay somewhere she obviously hated so she sleeps in our bed now & I wouldn't have it any other way. It's never caused a problem & now almost fully grown, she's an absolute delight. My biggest piece of advice is don't feel you HAVE to crate. Many people think it's pretty much mandatory but it's not. I know crating works for many people and that's fine. It just wasn't something I wanted for my puppy. Since she's been fully potty trained, when we leave her at home, she's confined to two safe rooms & she's never, ever been destructive.

ETA: For potty training, I used a spreadsheet that I put on the fridge so I could chart when Molly had a potty break so I could get a sense of how often she needed to go. I would take her outside hourly and if she relieved herself it went on the chart, if not, that also went on the chart. A tiny description of the poop (hard, liquid, extra smelly) is also helpful so you know how pup is doing with her food. It was very helpful to see Molly's potty activities on a chart. I also set up an "Accident Free Days" board like at Home Depot so I could track MY progress with recognizing her signals.
 

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Do you spend most of your time outside with him tethered to your belt just having a good time loving each other while trying to reinforce as much good behavior as possible? Do you confine the puppy to the play area for most of the day as Dr. Dunbar suggests to help time out potty training attempts?
If my goal as a dog owner was to spend most of my time outdoors (or in the vehicle or around livestock or hunting or...) with my dog, then that is how I would spend my days with my puppy. My puppy has spent lots of time in her play area. By 10 weeks there were no accidents in her space. By 14 weeks we removed pee pads and now she waits to be taken outside. I did spend a lot of time from 6 to 14 weeks outside, but that was because I was going outside with her so I could reward her when she went in the right spot. We started by going out every hour and worked up to two hours. I do walk her on leash, too (up to five minutes per week of age), and take her to places where I know she can meet a wide range of people for socializing purposes (school ground, playground, church grounds, pet store). I do work full-time outside of the home. My husband and teenagers are in and out all day, so she's not totally alone, but I am glad that Sasha is ok being left alone for a few hours at a time.
 

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Laurelin nailed alot fo things. Key among them was to let the pup get used to being alone. Start with small amts of time alone and gradually increase it if you have to . Otherwise you could end up with one that barks and frets when you leave. Ask me how I know this...

Don't play all the time either, you could create a monster. Puppies need to learn how to settle down and chill. If only for a few minutes, then gradually longer periods of time.

For night time I keep a crate in my room. My breeder keeps a crate in the pups ex-pen so they are used to one. And their mom is happy in the crate. So the pup is used to a crate by the time I get them. I had my girl sleep in the crate every night until her spay surgery at 9 months. Then b/c of the e-collar she had to sleep outside of it. After that I'd leave the door open at night. Then at 12 months I let her up on the bed and she's stayed there ever since. SHe's almost 3 now and I occasionally I crate her at night in the bed room. She's not thrilled to give up the tempurpedic so I often toss a cookie in to get her to go in happily. She doesn't complain once she's in. But then again I keep a crate in her dog room (crate door always open) and on her own free will she spends most of her time in it curled up napping.... even when we are home.

I also have a supportive spouse so we set our alarm clocks to go off at intervals during the night. IE a 3 mo pup can hold it for 3 hours so I go to bed at 11pm, set alarm for 2am. take pup out to potty. Then hubby's alarm will go off at 5am and he'll take the pup out. Then We are up at 7am.

I got my dog Aug or Sept of 2009. We are hoping to get a puppy from a Jan 24th litter. So we won't know til March if we have one or not. And then in April we'll be going through all the new puppy in the house stuff as well. Stock up on sleep while you can, lol!
 

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Do you have carpets? Another good idea, did anyone mention it already? Go buy and small portable steam cleaner for the carpet. A pet version. I wished I'd gotten mine BEFORE the puppy, but I got it shorty after. Comes in handy for kid spills as well.
 
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