When you welcome a new puppy into your life, you also welcome in a measure of chaos, especially in the first few weeks. By preparing yourself, your children, and your home, you can minimize the chaos, but what precisely can you expect as the proud, new caretaker of a pup?
Here's an outline of a new puppy's needs so you plan your schedule.
How To Organize Your Schedule To Tend To Your New Puppy
Your day will start and end with taking your puppy outdoors for a bathroom walk. Make sure to praise your pup when she uses the bathroom outdoors, and reinforce her good behavior with a treat. She will need a bathroom break every 90 minutes to two hours. The more often you take her out, the more likely she is to have success, get a reward, and learn good behavior.
Another way to invite success is to offer her a drink of water about 15 minutes before you take her outside. As she matures, your puppy will be able to go longer between bathroom breaks, but in the beginning, you should give your pup a chance to go outdoors in the middle of the night.
Puppies should be fed three times a day to fuel their rapid growth and development. You can feed your pup breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch at noon, and dinner at 5 p.m. This schedule allows your puppy to digest his food in the evening and use the bathroom before going to bed for the night.
Give him a chance to go outside to use the bathroom 15 minutes after each feeding, as eating stimulates his digestive system to eliminate.
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Your puppy must have a bowl of fresh water available at all times. Make sure to wash out the bowl and freshen the water every day, or more often if needed.
These are the sweet moments of puppyhood that make all that hard work worthwhile. A puppy 8 to 12 weeks old will have half-hour bursts of activity and then will need to rest. Playtime is a time to bond and show your new pup that she is part of the pack.
It is also a great opportunity for family fun. Include the kids in a group walk with your pup before breakfast or take turns tossing a toy for her to fetch.
Your puppy is learning from the moment you meet him. At first, your training time centers around teaching your puppy to use the bathroom outdoors and to be comfortable in his crate. When he reaches 7 to 8 weeks of age, you can begin training sessions to teach him words like "sit", "stay", and "down". Keep the instruction time short at first and offer a lot of praise for his good efforts.
Your pup will need a lot of sleep, up to 18 to 22 hours of rest in every 24-hour period. He can nap in his crate after walks and playtime.
Here's a sample schedule for the first few weeks of puppy adjustment. You and your puppy will change the schedule to reflect what works for you both.
- 6:30 a.m - Bathroom break, walk and play time
- 7 a.m - Breakfast then playtime
- 7:30 a.m - Bathroom break, then return to crate for a nap
- 9:30 a.m - Bathroom break, then playtime and training time
- 10 a.m - Return to crate
- Noon - Bathroom break, lunch, bathroom break, playtime and training time
- 12:30 p.m - Return to crate
- 3 p.m - Bathroom break, training and playtime
- 3:30 p.m - Return to crate for nap
- 5 p.m - Bathroom break, dinner, bathroom break, training and playtime
- 5:45 p.m - Return to crate for nap
- 7 p.m - Bathroom break and playtime, then return to crate
- 9 p.m - Bathroom break and playtime, then return to crate
- 11 p.m - Bathroom break and return to crate
- 2 to 5 a.m - Bathroom breaks as needed
As the puppy gets older, he will be able to go for longer stretches between bathroom breaks. According to the Humane Society of the United States, "Puppies under six months of age shouldn't stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can't control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs being house trained. Physically, an older dog can hold it, but they don't know they're supposed to."
With this rigorous schedule of responsibilities, you may start to wonder when will you be able to leave the house. Plan for the first few days to be intense, and clear space in your schedule. Enlist the help of other family members or even a part-time puppy-sitter.
Remember that the time you invest now will pay off in a closer bond with your puppy and more opportunities to shape good behavior early on. Puppyhood is fleeting, and you'll want to allow yourself to get caught up in this sweet time in your dog's life!
You can read more about your dog's health here.