I'm Jess, and I found this board while seeking some information about my new puppy, Hershey, an 8 week old Chocolate Lab. Thanks, in advance for reading this, and for any advice you may have.
Let me tell you a little about us:
I'm a stay at home mom with 2 boys [8 and 10], and 3 cats. We just bought our first home [with a fenced yard!] and are moving in about 3 weeks. He's been started on his shots, is registered to begin "puppy preschool" in September, will be neutered shortly, and is being crate trained. I think we are pretty good pet parents, if I do say so myself My cats don't mind him so much - they are even starting to play with him a little bit.
The crate training doesn't seem to be going very well. He will go inside easily only if he is VERY tired, but for the most part, he seems to hate it. His potty training doesn't seem to be going very well, either. Accidents are few and far between, but only because I'm on it before he shows signs of needing to go. He whines to get out of his crate when he needs to go, which makes sense, but he has no problem with peeing on the carpet - he will whine to go outside if he has to poo.
It seems as though his crate training / housebreaking issues are linked, but I'm really not sure how to fix either. I'm worried about leaving him in the crate too long, but want him to learn to accept his crate as his space. Any advice?
Also, a few other questions:
How often should a puppy of this age be eating? How much? How often should he be eliminating?
You have a BABY ... please don't expect too much.* The best way to potty train is exactly what you are doing -- take him out often and then praise the heck out of him when he goes (and give him a treat if you like).* *Are you using "cue" words like "go potty"?* That will help so much later on, because by using them now, you will teach your dog to go on command.* A great trick!*
We got Sami at 8 1/2 weeks -- by 10 weeks she was going to the door.* BUT, just like a kid, she still had an occasional accident for a few more weeks.* However, from what I've read here, that's not exactly the norm and many puppies take a lot longer.* I do highly recommend bell training ... it makes life so much easier.* You can probably do a search and find more about it ... or I can come back later and explain it*
Reinforce the crate with great things ... we did this by having certain treats that Sami only got when she was in her crate.* She's a highly food motivated dog so that made it easy.* To this day, she only gets a frozen kong in her crate, and if I give her one, she'll run with it and jump in her crate.* Just stick with it ...* Oh, and how long is he in the crate?* At this age, it should be a max of 3 hours.* The rule of thumb is 1 hour per month of age plus 1 hour.
Regarding food -- you should be feeding three times a day.* Sami at 8 weeks was eating 3/4 cups of food, 3x a day.* However, assuming you got your puppy from a breeder, you should follow their advice.
Some general things I'd advise are: (1) don't allow your puppy to do anything now that you are not going to want a 70 lb. dog to do and (2) be very consistent in everything you do.* I'm constantly amazed at how much they learn just through routine.*
Funny you used the word "baby" - I feel exactly like I did when my boys were newborns: tired, sleeping when I can, and at the mercy of a wee little one.
I am using cue words, and upon the arrival of my newly purchased clicker, will be learning about cues and clicker training. I'm also reinforncing with treats, and he only gets them after doing his business.
Please enlighten me about Frozen Kongs - I've heard many puppy parents speak of them, and I'm all over them if they encourage Hershey to learn good things =)
Hershey is in the crate, at the longest +-3 hours. I'm home with him all day, so he's never left unattended, save for small trips to the store or whereever. His daily naps are in the crate, except for his afternoon nap, which is taken with me. [Our favorite time of the day]. He goes to bed around 10-11, and is up around 3 for a potty break, then again at 6.
Actually, I didn't get him from a breeder - just someone who had two labs. He gave me no instructions or information, so I've been actively seeking it out for myself.
The last bit is VERY good advice. I'm committed to doing EVERYTHING I can to ensure Hershey is a well-trained, well-behaved dog, for his safety, and for that of my kids and thier friends. We'd like to be able to include him in most of our family activities, and nobody invites a poorly behaved dog over for a bbq
I'll upload some pictures soon.
By the way, this board is great! I've been reading through threads for the last hour or so, and it's very helpful. So glad I found it!
Frozen Kongs ... You can find Kong toys most anywhere -- from pet stores to Target. They come in a variety of shapes. Most of us probably use these: http://www.dog.com/itemdy00.asp?T1=311406+2S&Cat= However, I know that Walmart sells a different type that is cheaper ;D and is shaped liked a fire hydrant. You take the beehive shaped kongs and fill the inside w/ kibble, maybe some banana or canned food and then close the hole w/ a little dab of peanut butter, or just canned food. Then you freeze and it will take your little furbaby a good 30 minutes or more to de-stuff it. Because it will be a new concept, I'd probably start with it unfrozen and then work up to giving them frozen. Sami has 5 -- 3 of the medium and 2 of the large. I keep a tub with them frozen all the time. Whenever I leave her in her crate (which honestly is rare since I have the same job as you ) I give her one.
Hope you did your homework on labs -- they can be challenging in the early months but they are SOOOO worth it. There are tons of posts here to help you through, too.
By the way, what are you feeding the little guy? Oh, and please accept my apologies for not giving you a proper WELCOME. It's been an exhausting weekend, but welcome to the board!
Thank you! Already, I'm so glad I found this board - a wealth of information and nice people =)
Oh yes, the Kongs. I've seen those - just wasn't familiar with the name. A pinata of sorts for puppies - he'll love it!
I did, in fact, do my research on labs. Out of all the "big dog" breeds, the traits intrinsic to labs seemed to fit right in with our family and its lifestyle. I also did a LOT of reading up on puppies in general, and the training of them from housebreaking to nipping to crate training.
I have a feeling, after reading some posts, I'm not feeding him the right food: Purina Puppy Chow, which is what his parent's owners were feeding him. He's also been dipping into the cat food, as I free feed my cats [I have 3, and getting them onto the same schedule was IMPOSSIBLE] - but I try to monitor that as much as possible. His stools have gotten somewhat mushy [not runny] today and I haven't gotten the fecal sample done yet [that gets done next week], so I'm not quite sure what's going on re: that.
Overall, he's a great-tempered puppy with a sassy little mouth to him. He seems to be "telling me off" when I tell him no, but he listens VERY well. He's already begun to understand "sit", "lay down" and "treat" - he's great with my cats, walks on a leash very well, and gets excited to explore new things. I'm horribly in love with him already, and can't wait to watch him grow and learn =)
You probably won't hear a lot of positives about puppy chow here, but there are a lot of threads about the different brands of food. I've fed my pup Nutro and we're gradually switching to California Natural. If you do switch foods, make it a gradual change, mix the two foods together at first (75% old, 25% new) and then increase the ratio until you wean the pup off the old food.
Were the stools mushy when you brought him home or more recently? The mushy could be the cat food or treats. Try to keep him away from the cat food and just use his regular kibble as a treat for a day or two and see if the stools improve. Usually you can pick up a stool sample container from the vet prior to an appointment and they can run a quick test for you.
Congrats on the new puppy and welcome. Sounds like you have gotten off to a good start. Another trick with the crate. Feed all his meals in the crate. That way, he associates the crate with good things. Potty training, that just takes vigilance which you are already doing. You are so right about investing the time and energy now when they are small so they don't grow into obnoxious big dogs later. You don't want to have to shut him in a separate room every time people come visit. It's a big initial investment but the payoff is big. They are such joys.
Welcome to the board.
First what's his name?
Second in general I've found it takes boys a little longer to housebreak than girls.
If he has an accident after you clean it he can still smell it so you need to finish the job with a product such as Natures Miracle.
When you clean it up make sure he can't see you do it because you don't want him to think that's your job.
In General puppies have to go to the bathroom at three times and you can pretty much control all three.
When he first wakes up.
Right after he eats.
During active play.
If you take him out right after the first two and right before the third you should limit the problems.
At this stage always take him outside through the same door.
Hang a bell on a shoestring so it is to the level of his nose.
When you take him out have him touch his nose to the bell to make a noise. When he goes to the bathroom give him lots of praise, like you've won the lottery, because you have.
Start to watch for signals that he has to go out. If he is sniffing around on the floor and circling he is looking for a spot to squat.
NEVER EVER RUB HIS NOSE IN IT!!!
Take away his water dish at 8pm and this will lessen his need to go out in the middle of the night.
If he does have an accident, and he will, blame yourself not him for not paying attention to his signals.
As far as the crate goes at this stage if you don't have time to watch exactly what he is doing I would keep him in there. If he is whining and crying and he isn't hurt or needs to go to the bathroom don't answer it. If you do, even if it's one time he will get it into his head "that works" and it will be even harder to break him of this bad habit. Eventually he will except the crate as a place of security, his home. Last month I dog sat a friends 2 year old toy dog and he cried like he was on fire while he was in the crate. After three days of being ignored he stopped and got to come out for some fun.
The kids should never be allowed into his crate.
Another great thing for the kong is unsweetened natural applesauce. Plain yogurt (not flavored) is usually a favorite too. What I do is fill the kong w/ a few pieces of kibble first ~ as that tends to plug the small hole ~ and then put the other goodies in. I usually close w/ canned food, but w/ bananas that's not even necessary. Of course, Hershey is young so you don't want to introduce too many new foods at once ... but thought I'd let you know of some other healthy Kong possiblities.
Glad to hear that he's starting to view his crate as a place where great things happen.