Callie here with another confession: it has been a very long time since I have lived with a puppy. Earlier this month I got to spend a week with a 5 month old Australian shepherd puppy who quickly reminded me that puppies are no walk in the park. I now have a new found empathy for all of my puppy parents and I wanted to share some things that I learned.
Potty Training In An Apartment
Is exhausting. There is no just letting puppy out the back door when they have to pee. I have never walked up and down the stairs so many times in one day. At 5 months old, puppy’s bladder is a bit stronger so we really only needed to go out about once an hour. However, I often found myself losing track of time, missing signals, or simply not getting her out the door fast enough. We went through a lot of paper towels that week.
When in doubt, take them out. If they don’t potty when you take them out, go back inside, crate them, and then take them out again a few minutes later. Often the outside world is super distracting for puppies, especially if you live in a busy place. I found walking in the same spots to be helpful because they aren’t bombarded with new stuff every time they go outside. When they do go outside, throw them a party with lots of praise and a cookie!
The good thing about potty training in an apartment is that you can probably ditch your gym membership!
Nap Time Is Your Friend
Forge and puppy are the best of friends. They have very similar play styles so it was a non-stop party in the living room. I quickly learned that enforced nap times were essential. Sleep is so important for dogs, especially puppies. They need that time to help them grow and to recuperate both mentally and physically.
After about 15-30 minutes of play, we would have a potty break and crate time with a chew for both dogs. While Forge typically isn’t crated much during the day when I am home, he definitely needed it when puppy was here. Making the crate a cozy and happy space for your dog will help you a lot when you just need them to settle down.
Puppies should sleep about 18-20 hours each day. Adult dogs should sleep somewhere around 12-14 hours a day, with larger breeds needing closer to 18 hours. We often find that many “problem” behaviors in puppies and some adult dogs occur when they are over tired. Quality sleep can definitely make a huge difference in your pups behavior!
Exposure Makes A Difference
This little Aussie puppy is pretty fearless. She has been exposed to a lot of different sights, sounds, smells, textures, etc. in her 5 short months of life. Forge is quite the opposite. While I don’t know much about his upbringing, it does not appear that he was exposed to very much.
Watching the two of them together, I saw so many differences in the way they handle new things. For example: we got a piece of doggie exercise equipment that same week and I placed it in the living room. Puppy immediately explored it, jumped right up and sat on it. Forge sniffed it from afar, circled it, and did not touch it until I encouraged him with some food.
Socializing and exposing your puppy can make a big difference in the adult dog they become. Positive experiences with all of the weird things life with humans brings can help your dog become a confident adult.
While working with a blank slate is definitely easier, exposure and socialization for adult dogs is not impossible! Forge is getting braver every day as we work on having positive experiences with all of the scary things. It’s a big world out there for our dogs and it’s our job as dog parents to help them feel safe and secure in any environment.
The final lesson I learned from all of this is…if you give a dog trainer a puppy, it may not be returned. I am very excited to introduce Pele to The Freckled Paw family!