Are you one of the many who added what is being called a Pandemic Puppy to your home in Marinette, Menominee or Peshtigo in 2020?  Why did you add a pup?  What did you do to prepare?  How is that puppy doing now that he’s older?  Are you just getting your puppy now because of a huge waitlist for your favorite breed?  Let’s dig into these questions and others that I have been getting over the last few months about Pandemic Puppies from my clients in Marinette, Menominee and Peshtigo!

What better time to get a new rescue dog or puppy than during a pandemic that has us all sheltering at home?  I got one!  My puppy wasn’t planned, in fact, she was supposed to be an older rescue.  Any of my friends would tell you that I repeated many times over the years that I just didn’t think I had another puppy ‘in me’, but one night in October, my husband showed me a cute picture of a Vizsla puppy and that was it!  I was like a dog with a bone! (pun intended of course)

Meet Olive, my Pandemic Puppy!

I believe the picture my husband showed me was a scam – sad but true.  Scam artists selling puppies that don’t exist to poor unsuspecting people is real!  Be careful!  After only a short search, I realized that if we wanted a female Vizsla pup, we could be waiting 6-12 months or longer!  The rush to get Pandemic puppies caused a shortage of breeder pups and a shortage of dogs at shelters!  I was hesitant to put down a deposit to get on a wait list – I’m more of an immediate gratification girl.  I had puppy on the brain, and I wanted my baby now!  By luck (or fate), I stumbled upon an 8-week-old pup who was still available.  The breeder had two other couples looking at her, but this breeder wasn’t going by first come, first serve.  SHE would choose the homes she wanted for her pups.  As luck (or fate) would have it, the breeder chose us and we were meeting our new puppy at the airport the next night!

Do you know how much work puppies are?

So, you got a Pandemic Puppy.  Are you crazy?  Do you know how much work puppies are?  Puppies are eyes on 100% of the time for their first 6 months or so.  That bears repeating; PUPPIES ARE EYES-ON 100% OF THE TIME FOR THEIR FIRST 6 MONTHS OR SO.  When your puppy is loose in the house, you must see what they are doing.  You need to let them know when they are doing something that pleases you, and you need to be right there to re-direct any unwanted behaviors.  There are tools that can help with this like a puppy playpen or a crate.  When the pup is contained, you can control what the puppy has access to.  Of course, these are not long-term solutions, but may help when you need to work, take a shower, sleep and run to the store for more puppy supplies!

What are you going to feed your new baby?

Do you have the supplies you need for your Pandemic Pup?  Olive came to us without much time to prepare.  We had the basics like a crate and bedding, but we didn’t have puppy appropriate toys or puppy food.  What are you going to feed your new baby?  THAT is the million-dollar question!  We went through a few foods before settling in on what worked best for Olive.  You will want to start off with what the breeder was feeding and then switch over to your brand slowly, over 7-10 days.  An abrupt switch could be very harsh for a pup’s (or dog’s) tummy.  One thing I learned in this process is that not all puppy foods are created equal.  Olive will be about 50 pounds when she is fully grown.  Did you know that it is recommended that dogs who will weigh 50 pounds or more when an adult should be fed Large Breed puppy food?   I did not!  I chose a high-quality puppy food that said it was good for any breed size and my vet recommended I switch.  My brand also had a large breed specific food, so we did switch, and Olive did well.  Not sure what to feed your pup or your rescue?  I always send clients to dogfoodadvisor.com.  Use their star rating to choose the very best food you can that also fits within your budget.  One thing to remember – it is advisable to choose a food that is made in the kitchen of the company selling it.  You do not want a brand that gives their recipe to a third party who sources the ingredients and manufactures the food.  Take a look at my blog on pet food.  Remember the 2007 pet food recalls?  I try to stay away from these brands.

Will you crate train your new pup?

What supplies will you need beyond food?  A crate is a great place to start.  I buy a crate in the size the adult dog will need, if not larger.  Many have a divider you can put inside to reduce the size of the crate for a pup.  As they grow, simply move the divider to give them more space until one day it is no longer needed.  Keeping the crate small enough for your pup will help with potty training.  By instinct, dogs do not like to potty where they live/sleep.  A crate too big for your pup will have them pottying in the back of the crate while they live in the front.  When a pup is properly acclimated and trained to use their crate, it can become a nice safe resting place for them.  Someplace they enjoy and will go on their own, for a nap.  There are many techniques to teaching a pup their crate is a good place.  First and foremost, a pup should never be forced into a crate.  Additionally, a crate should never be used as punishment.  Feeding a pup in their crate makes it a happy place to go, and always giving them a tasty treat when they go in their crate can have them running there when you ask.  I crate train all my dogs because it is a way to keep a puppy or dog safe when you can’t be with them.  Eventually, your puppy will become an adult and learn appropriate behavior and earn their spot on the sofa while you are out of the house.  If your puppy wears a collar or harness in the house, it is best to remove it while they’re crated.  You can google all sorts of horrible stories about collars and tags and things sitting on top of crates proving dangerous (even deadly) to pups.

No puppy (or dog for that matter) should ever be crated for long periods of time without access to water and bathroom breaks.  A good rule of thumb is a puppy can generally “hold-it” for 1 hour more than months they are old.  For example, a 12-week old pup (3-months old) might be able to go 4-hours between bathroom breaks while in the crate during the day.  It does not matter if your pup can go 9 hours at night, during the day is very different and you cannot expect the same of them.  If you think you can put your 3 month old puppy in a crate and leave for 12 hours you are mistaken.  Your puppy will learn to hate their crate, and sooner or later the love they have for you will fade too.

Puppies are busy – give them something to do!

Toys –   Puppies like to chew.  If they are chewing on your shoes, should you yell at them?  NO!  Your puppies’ mischievous ways are your fault.  YOU left your shoes within reach (replace “shoes” with remote, purse, jeans, socks, pillow etc.)  What can you do when you see them with your shoe?  Re-direct!  Give them their chew toy in trade for your shoe, praise them for taking it – and then pick up your shoes!  What kind of toys are best?  There are a LOT!  Some pups like to chase a ball, other’s like to snuggle with soft plush toys.  Olive’s favorite is her Kong binky.  Kongs are tough, not easily chewed-up and can be filled with treats or kibble so puppy has something to work on and keep them busy (and out of trouble).  A good rule of thumb: never leave a puppy or a dog unattended with a new toy.  If they destroy a toy, it can become a choke hazard.  Safety first!

Your puppy needs a wellness check!

Now that you have nutritious puppy food and training treats, your puppy training bible – The Puppy Primer by Patricia B. McConnell Ph.D. and Brenda Scidmore, a crate, some bedding, toys and a harness and leash, you’re ready to bring that puppy home, right?  What about a Veterinarian?  Have you chosen one?  Did you make your first appointment?  One mistake I see all the time is waiting to take your new puppy or rescue dog to the Vet until they need their next round of vaccines in a few weeks or a month.  Do not wait!  It is best to take your puppy to the vet as soon as you bring them home.  You want a puppy wellness check ASAP!  Are all the parts there?  Are all the parts working correctly?  Have a fecal done (check their poo).  Just because they have been wormed does not mean that don’t have worms!  We are fortunate to have three wonderful Veterinary Clinics in the area who can see your Pandemic Puppy in Marinette, Menominee and Peshtigo.  Your vet will help you keep track of your puppy’s vaccinations; they are super important!  In case you weren’t aware – most of those vaccinations are annual so you will need to get them EVERY year.  You may consider splitting the annual vaccines in 3 or even 4 different vet visits each year so your poor pup isn’t getting multiple vaccinations in the same visit.  It can be really harsh on their system – especially if your dog is smaller.  I take my pups once a quarter.  They get a wellness check and a vaccine each time we go.  Bloodwork is done annually as is testing for heartworms.  Heartworm preventative and flea and tick prevention should come from your vet – not Walmart or the pet supply store where you buy your food.  Trying to save money or taking shortcuts with your pet’s health can be VERY costly.  Do not learn that lesson the hard way!

Who will teach your puppy manners?

OK, so your pup is healthy, has some swag, what’s next?  T.R.A.I.N.I.N.G.  No one wants an unruly pup.  Pups also need a little socialization around people and other pets and a training class is a good way to get it.  Think your Pandemic Pup is too young for school?  Think again.  Positive social interactions are especially important for your pup’s development between the age of 3 to 14 weeks and 5-9 months.  Pups require ongoing socialization throughout their lifetime, but those early months are critical in setting the foundation for a well-rounded dog.  I have been through literally years of obedience classes with all of the dogs I have had (about 30 years worth).  Each class is different, each instructor uses different methods, and there are new training techniques coming out all the time.  That is why Olive and I started school when she was about 13 weeks old (private classes as not all vaccines had yet been given).  Group classes began when she was just over 5 months, and we will be continuing with them again soon, at 8 months.  I know all the ins and outs for trainers of Pandemic puppies in Marinette, Menominee and Peshtigo so email me and I will be happy to point you in the right direction!

Easy ‘house training’ tips for your puppy!

Probably the first training you will do with your puppy is potty training and that is a subject all its own.  Some pups are simple, some take a bit longer – just like kids.  If you haven’t had a puppy in a while and you think taking your little bundle of joy out every hour or two will do the trick – uh no!  There are days or times of day where you will be whisking that puppy out the door every 20 minutes!  Here’s what I do…  Every time something changes for your pup, go outside.  When your puppy wakes in the morning, go potty.  Immediately after eating, go potty.  Immediately after getting a drink, go potty.  If your puppy is playing and stops, go potty.  If your puppy is resting in your lap and gets up, go potty.  If your puppy is on the floor playing and walks away, go potty, if you need to put your puppy in his crate, go outside potty first, when you let your puppy out of the crate (even if it’s just 30 minutes later), go potty.  If you puppy is sniffing the floor, go outside potty.  This is where eyes on 100% of the time is important.  Puppy potties on the floor – nope – not his fault.  My bet is you weren’t watching!  When you do go out – start teaching the words you want your puppy to learn.  When I open the door, I say “outside”.  When puppy tinkles, I say “good potty” or “good pee-pee”, when puppy goes poop, I say “good poops!”  When Olive was done going, I’d clap my hands (think applause) and say “good girl” and then “come”.  From there, it was a celebration and love fest EACH AND EVERY TIME because consistency is key!  It wasn’t long before Olive was potty trained AND had an excellent recall.

A couple of thoughts off the top of my head…  You have your adorable puppy, a sweet looking harness and leash and you can’t wait to take that puppy for a spin around the neighborhood.  Please discuss that with your Veterinarian first!  Puppies are best kept to their own yards and away from other animals until they are fully vaccinated.  There are some really awful canine diseases that can make your puppy very sick or even kill them.

One other thing to speak with your Vet about is when to spay or neuter your pup.  There are as many answers to this question as there are people to ask.  Your breeder may say wait until your pup is a year or two.  If your pup is coming from a shelter, they may insist on doing it as early as 10-12 weeks, before you even get your pup (this is SUPER early), and your vet may say 6 months or so.  In the end, ask WHY.  WHY should I wait until my dog is 2 years old?  WHY should I spay my pup before her first heat?  Then, the decision is yours.  Breeds are different, puppies are different, vets are different.  You will need to choose what you feel is best for you and your puppy.  What you DON’T want is that litter of unwanted puppies so be responsible and spay/neuter your Pandemic puppy!