Implementing a structured routine will teach your puppy to respect you and will prep them with a strong foundation for life in their new pack/family. He who controls the ritual, controls the environment; and this will bring comfort to your puppy. Feeding time should have a start and end time. We like to feed in the crate for several reasons. A general rule for time in the crate is the puppy's age in months plus one hour (3 month old puppy=4 hours in a crate). Essentially, whenever your puppy is out of the crate or appropriate confined space, this is your time to FOCUS on, INTERACT with, and SUPERVISE your puppy. Purpose driven activity can include: playtime, leash walking, off- leash walking, tethering, affection-time, rest-time with human interaction such as reading, exercise, place or obedience training. Make a bedtime ritual with your puppy and include a stress relieving chew (like a bully stick or antler shed). A tip that works well is to lock the chew in the crate before bedtime to entice puppy to want to get into the crate and turn in for bedtime. Structure will help puppy to know what to expect, feel confident, and adjust to your home and family easily. Puppies can adapt to the schedule you set, even if it is different than this example. Set a routine and in 2-3 weeks, puppy should be well adjusted. Here is a look at the day in the life of a young puppy and a reasonable schedule for success with your puppy.
7:00 Wake-up/Outside for Potty
7:30 Feed Breakfast in Crate
8:00-11:00 Morning Activities
11:00-1:30 Time in Crate, Feed Lunch at 12pm in crate
1:30 Wake-up/Outside for Potty
2:00-4:30 Afternoon Activities
4:30-6:30 Crate Time, Feed Dinner in crate 5pm
6:30 Wake-up/Outside for Potty
7:00-7:30 Evening Activities
7:30-9:00 Bedtime Ritual, 8:00 Pick-up Water for the evening
9:00 Outside for Potty
*Play should be both inside and outside and include body and mind games.
*Training should last only 5-10 minutes and should be followed by rest or time in crate for young puppy's brain to imprint the learning.
*For 8-week old puppies, take puppy outside for potty again at midnight. Through the next week, move the time back by 15 minutes as you have success. Only move the time when successful without accidents.
**The first day home should be a light day. Feed, Potty, Leash-walk, and Rest. This is NOT the time for a welcome home party with the neighborhood coming over.
Alyson Rodges is a well-known trainer, friend, known as the Doodle Whisperer, and author of her book, Pillars of Pack Leadership, which includes the above 'Schedule of Success'
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