1. Crate Training: Even if you are home all the time, crate training is a skill your puppy needs to learn. They can nap in their crate, sleep in there at night, even go there for time outs when needed (it won't make them hate their crate!).
2. Naps: All puppies need to have 3-4 scheduled naps each day. Those naps should be in their crate to insure good sleep. Just like little kids, they may not WANT to take that (crate) nap, but they NEED it! Letting puppies "cat nap" wherever they lie down does not promote or encourage good sleeping patterns.
3. Potty Training: Puppies should be taken to a designated bathroom area every 30-45 minutes when they are awake and encouraged to go to the bathroom. Once you figure out your puppy's toileting schedule, you can alter this. Remember, however, that puppies need to toilet after eating or drinking, if they've been startled, after play, and when they wake up from naps.
4. Never leave your puppy unattended: Your puppy should be on leash with you or where you can see them at all times. Don't give them free run of your home or you'll have lots of toileting accidents to contend with. If you can't watch your puppy, they should be in their crate or x-pen resting or with something to keep them occupied there like a kong or chew toy.
5. Rotate your puppy's toys: Daily toy rotation insures that your puppy is always interested in the toys you offer them as they seem new and exciting. Make sure the toys offered challenge different modalities, meaning one toy is soft and crunchy, one is cuddly, and one is hard and good for chewing, for example. By having those three options each day, your puppy can choose based on their needs. Rotating which toys meet those needs daily keeps their brains challenged and saves your furniture from puppy teeth!
6. Control mouthing: All puppies mouth their owners. You want them to put their mouths on you so that they can learn how much pressure is too much. If you feel the pressure of puppy teeth, squawk loudly and move away from your puppy. Wait a moment and then offer a toy to play with so that they learn how to use their mouths constructively.
7. Daily Training: Incorporate basic training into your everyday activities. Have your puppy sit and wait before being fed, for example. Keep your training sessions short and frequent. Puppies will learn a lot more from ten, 2 minute sessions than they will in one 20 minute session. For best results, spread your training exercises throughout the day and among all family members.
8. Walks are important: Even if your puppy isn't fully vaccinated, you still need to take them for short walks to leash train them. Do the walks around inside your house or in your own yard. When you do start walking them in public, keep your walks short and fun; even if you only manage to walk one block in 10 minutes, that might be perfect for your puppy! Let them sniff, explore and watch the world around them. Don't force them to walk at a certain pace, go a certain distance, or for a certain length of time. Walks are about quality and quality to a dog of any age is about sniffing and exploring.
9. Zoomies: Zoomies are about excitement and excitement can be good or bad. If your puppy is racing around following something stressful like a trip to the vet, this is your puppy running off their anxiety about that experience. If they do it following a bath, they are trying to rid themselves of the water and that smelly shampoo you used! And if they do it in the evening, that's often about being over-tired and having missed one (or more) of their daily naps. Remember, too, if you laugh and encourage the zoomies, your pups will offer them to keep you entertained! That's reinforcement!
10. Handling exercises are important too: Handle your puppies every single day. Look in their mouths, in their ears, between their toes. Begin grooming your puppies early whether that's using a gentle brush or a grooming mitt. Introduce a puppy toothbrush and dog toothpaste and start cleaning their teeth as you handle their mouths. Introduce all grooming tools early (including nail trimmers and/or a nail dremmel) so that your puppy doesn't find them stressful or scary.
Obviously this list isn't comprehensive, it's just a few of the things I see many of my new puppy clients neglecting with their pandemic puppies. As always, if you need help with your pet (pandemic puppy, or otherwise!), you know where to find me.
Some of you may remember Freddie. He was a sweet Goldendoodle puppy who lived with us for a week to get his training back on track. Here he is learning how to do sit/stays with the big dogs. He was an excellent observational learner and the collies were great teachers!