When our beautiful Shepherd Jackson passed last spring we were devastated. He left a huge loss in out heart and home.
After the grip of intense mourning had loosened, it came time to choose our next companion. We have always believed in rescuing adult dogs, there are so many positives to having an adult, yet at the same time, we wanted to try raising a GSD pup just once.
So we researched and met with breeders, an involved process, but well worth it. When picking a breeder, research, ask questions, get references. Go on site and meet the breeder and their dogs. Meet the parents, meet the grandparents, meet the whole family! Take your time, the right pup will come along.
We selected our breeder and agreed to take a pup from the next litter.
On September 6th Koa came into our lives....and all the aspects of puppyhood I thought I knew flew out the window!!!
Part 1....The Arrival. (Blissful ignorance)
Oh my. On the ride home he was adorable. He slept the whole way....and then slept some more.....and then slept again. I had no idea puppies slept so much!! Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely to have this new addition rest, but I seriously thought there was something wrong with him!! Guess what, It’s perfectly normal! Enjoy it, it doesn’t last forever.
Did you know new puppies hiccup a lot? And they can be very loud. Panic set in until Dr. Pat explained that puppies often hiccup due to an immature digestive system. Phew.
After quietly adoring his sleeping form for the first few hours we had to start the real work. House training. A phrase that strikes fear into the heart of a new puppy owner. If I could give one piece of advice that would help puppies and their owners get through this stage it would be beg, borrow or steal a crate. A crate combined with my husband’s almost tyrannical adherence to a schedule helped Koa pick up the associations needed to sail through potty training. Our mantra was food and drink go in..pup goes out. Rinse and repeat when coming out of crate. No exceptions!
An easy 2-3 word phrase can help your pup make the association to go potty when he or she is out. We used the term "get busy" to help Koa understand it was time to eliminate. If I had a dollar for every dark morning I was cheerfully whispering "get busy", I'd be a millionaire. And when they go...praise to the skies!! I mean PRAISE baby. Don' t be stingy. Act like they've just conquered Everest or found the cure for the common cold or brokered world peace. This encouragement will help them pick up the whole process much quicker.
Also, make sure potty times are just that. They go out, do their business and then come back in. We found separating potty from playtime helpful to Koa in understanding when to go.
If you find it difficult creating a schedule, try an app! When we started, we used the Puddles and Poo app. (Yes, that's the actual name.) Sounds silly, but it works. You input eating and drinking times, and it alerts you with a bark when puppy should go out. Ain't technology grand???
By now you are probably thinking how easy it is......we did too! And then came the dark times.
To be continued.....