This has been the busiest for breeders and rescue organizations fielding inquiries with everyone looking for a puppy this year. Covid-19 could be the reason for the uptick or at least the nudge for those who were already planning to add this year to do it now. If you’re going to be home this is the most ideal time to train... Right?
In this blog episode I'd like to introduce you to Benson and his mom Taylor. Taylor recently got married (congrats) and Benson was a wedding gift to themselves. If that isn’t life changing pre-Covid 19 I don’t know what is :) New puppy , newlyweds, sheltering oh and I forgot to mention being essential workers! The anticipation of getting a fur baby is so exciting. I know the feeling of being so anxious to have him or her finally with you. You read all the helpful tips on what to expect when you bring a puppy home and when they get there all of it goes out the window. Now if that hasn’t happened to you let’s talk I’d love to have that as our next blog story :)
We thank Taylor for sharing her story on her puppy journey with Benson.
What type of doodle is Benson? How old is he? What state are you from?
Benson is our (almost) 17 week old miniature labradoodle. His birthday is 1-30-20. We live in Minnesota.
As a first time puppy parent what advice would you give someone preparing to get their pup?
Prepare not only your home and heart but also your relationship with your significant other. We are newlyweds, bringing a puppy into our lives as been the biggest blessing, but also a CHALLENGE. Just as you move objects from low spaces, move electrical cords and puppy distractions you also must prepare for your relationship to change as you work together to raise something that relies on you.
What’s your routine?
I'm asked this question frequently because we are both shift workers and Benson is a quarantine puppy. He knows nothing other than us being home more often. As shift workers, we have worked hard to develop flexible routines for Benson. Sometimes that means staying up until 3am, other times it might mean sleeping during the day, and sometimes it means sleepovers at his grandparents. Benson has been very adaptable, but we have wake up routines and bed time routines regardless of the time of day. Wake ups usually look like: immediately outside with mom or dad and their coffee, morning fetch and playtime, breakfast when we come in, and then Benson naps. We go on a minimum of 2 walks a day and we work on training about 1-2hrs a day. Bedtime looks like evening playtime/outside fetch, settling in on the couch for a while, then off to bed with dad usually as I (mom) work nights so am usually up late.
What would your present self tell your past self to be prepared for ?
The fact that you as a puppy parent also have to be adaptable, you're life WILL change. Your entire life changes. Doing laundry is a challenge as the puppy wants the socks, there's times where you will hold your urge to use the bathroom because the puppy is sleeping next to you and you simply can't wake him, and to be firm in developing expectations for your puppy.
What type of training are you doing? Do you have a special treat that he gets rewarded with?
Our hope is that Benson will be a therapy dog in the future. I am in school to be a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and would love for Benson to work beside me in the future in some capacity. He LOVES training sessions and picks up on cues and new commands very quickly. We are working on silent commands, this has innately taught Benson to frequently check in with us to see what we are expecting of him next. We are currently working on "hugs" and he has almost perfected his "default set" position which is to lay down by our feet when we take a seat. His "special treats" during training is simply a different kind of dog food than he is use to, and following sessions he is rewarded with a Kong, Bully Stick or Beef Tendon.
Since we are dealing with quarantine and we can’t really socialize our dogs. What have you been doing with Benson?
This has been extremely challenging and we have really prioritized exposing Benson to new people, new animals, new/unique sounds and environments because as a couple we don't sit still and Benson will be with us for a while and we want him to be comfortable wherever we take him. We picked Benson up the day Minnesota's Shelter in Place order was put into effect. While we spend more time at home due to quarantine in our "free time" as a nurse and distribution manager we are still going to work, in fact working A LOT. With this, we have been firm in social distancing practices to protect those around us. Benson goes to his grandparents house for a sleepover once every 1-2weeks and plays with "Uncle Ollie", a miniature Schnauzer a few times a week. Our friends have a mini goldendoodle that is 4 weeks younger than Benson who we have had socially distanced play dates with to help with socialization of both pups! Additionally, we knew it was important to expose Benson to small children as he will one day have human siblings, our neighbors have numerous children who Benson has been allowed to "watch" and "follow" but not touch or play with. This has been extremely good for not only socialization but working on impulse training. He will sit in our yard and watch the children running and playing 50 feet from him and will not run after then or bark.
Lastly, in terms of exposing Benson to new things and unknowns we prioritized this from DAY ONE! We are renovating our home so Benson is exposed to loud noises (hammers, drills, tools, doors slamming) and unique environments (our basement is a construction zone) with many areas that he needs to avoid on a daily basis. This has given us the opportunity to work on impulse, "leave it" and teaching him acceptable behavior in novel/unique environments. We also prioritized exposing him to hiking, water, boats, car rides, ect. very early on as these are all activities we frequently enjoy.
What type of sleep training are you doing? How hard was it :) (crate training?)
Sleep training Benson was challenging at first, we were dead set on crate training him. Benson spent the first 3-4 weeks sleeping in his crate at night but would only sleep 4-5 hrs at a time before waking us. He never LOVED going in his crate and would cry for a while despite his favorite treats/toys/heartbeat sound machine, ect. Benson proved to us around 12 weeks that we could trust him sleeping in our bed without any accidents and now, if allowed, he will sleep a full 12 hrs in our human bed.
Crate training has not gone well because we work opposite shifts and therefore Benson has never been left for more than 2 hrs at a time. I truly believe this was our biggest mistake/downfall as new puppy parents because he cannot be trusted outside of his crate home alone yet, but he has a lot of anxiety when he is in his crate.
My recommendations for successful crate training now that I have failed- stick to your guns, if you want your pup crate trained. Enforce crate time, EVERY DAY. Even if you're someone who stays at home, put them in there for nap time. Put the puppy in the crate when they're sleepy and put their favorite (safe) items in there with them.
Potty training tips?
Benson has been SUPER easy to potty train. I will say it's more about training yourself than it is the dog. Take the puppy out IMMEDIATELY when they wake up from a nap, come out of their crate, or start to settle down after playing. It's all about "getting lucky" with the puppy going outside at first. Keep them on a leash in the home so they are close to you and you can quickly encourage outside time if they start to sniff extra or show you cues that they may need to go.
Get yourself a bell and put it by the door for bell training. Most pups pick up on this super quickly!
Lastly, remove your favorite rugs/carpets for a little while if you can. Accidents WILL happen- don't scold your puppy- simply take them outside encouraging and remind "potty outside".
Puppy proofing your house? Did you have to do any remodeling to make it puppy safe :)
Bringing Benson into renovations was challenging but we made our main level his "safe space". We purchased gates and a puppy play pen. It sounds absolutely silly, but get down on the puppies level (your hands and knees) and look around- you'll be surprised by all the dangers there are in our homes. Electrical cords, trinkets/decorations on low shelves, SHOES!
What advice would you give puppy parents waiting for their puppy to come home?
Spend time with each other (if you're bringing a puppy home as a couple). Discuss your training goals, discipline practices, and each other's responsibilities. It's easy to get frustrated with one another after a couple sleepless nights, a few too many accidents, or a barking puppy that just won't stop.
Decide on your socialization goals, will you bring him/her to a large family event right away? Or will you slowly introduce the puppy?
Lastly, research, research, research! There's a million ways out there to do everything- find what, who, and how works for YOU! It's easy to think you're a bad puppy parent by comparing yourself to others.
What’s been the biggest surprise ? Challenges?
Biggest surprise/Challenge is the lack of time I now have to myself, he truly is like a newborn and needs attention almost constantly. It's easy to give it to him because he's so darn cute, but also implementing appropriate behaviors and patience has been key with Benson. I have been surprised by how fast he grows, they change before your eyes. As I stated above, we have also really struggled with crate training. For a pup who figured out "walk" "paw" "law down" (with silent commands) and loose leash walking within 1 week of being with us that has felt discouraging- but we are working with what we've got and continuing to celebrate the small successes!
If you can ask the community for a tip you would like help on and it’s been successful for them what would it be?
I would love the community to give me their best tips/tricks/recommendations for Doodle grooming. I would love to keep Benson's hair longer than the typical doodle cut!
*If anyone has helpful suggestions for grooming drop them in our forum to share with the rest of the community.* https://www.doodlesoftheworld.com/forum