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A New Puppy

Updated: Mar 31, 2018

Bringing a new puppy home can be both an exciting and trying time. My first schnauzer and I had a very unique experience as I got him the first day that I was home from being deployed to Iraq. It was just he and I living together so our bond was almost immediate. I was able to teach him and train him because I had a schedule that allowed me to spend a vast majority of time with him as a baby. He was potty trained by the time he was 12 weeks old and had little to no accidents in the house. My father retired from the Navy at the same time that I started Pharmacy school so he agreed to keep my puppy, King, while I was in school. They quickly bonded with each other and it became quite evident that I would not be getting him back from my mom and dad!

They quickly bonded with each other and it became quite evident that I would not be getting him back from my mom and dad!

Sir Conner Dietrich was added to the family to be my Emotional Support Animal (ESA) due to my diagnosis with MS and the mental struggle I was faced with after a very close family member loss their battle to breast cancer. I was finding it hard to overcome such a sad moment in my life and getting another puppy to provide me with company was exactly what I needed.

Conner was flown to us from Florida which proved to be a very traumatic time for him. His first few days in our home was both exciting and terrifying for him. We spent days just showering him with love and affection and held off on actually trying to train and discipline him--just yet. It was important, at this time, that he realized that my husband and I loved him more than he could ever know. We let him wander the house and get used to his new surroundings at his leisure.

After he had been with us about a week, we started to train him to use his potty pads in the house. I made the decision to train him this way, initially, for a number of reasons. If he was to be trained as my Emotional Support Dog, I knew that we would be traveling together quite often and I wanted him to be able to be comfortable going inside his playpen on his potty pads. Eventually, I will train him to go outside to potty; once he has had all his vaccinations. Also, being that I have MS, it is easier for me to let him go inside, instead of going up and down the stairs to take him outside; especially during the winter months, since cold temperatures tend to make my symptoms worse.

We kept him on the same food that his previous owner had him on, and decided to only change his food when he was more comfortable with being in a new place.

Changing too much with a new dog can have the same effects as making sudden changes with children.

It is important not to overwhelm them both physically and mentally during this sensitive transition. When we did change his food, we mixed his old food with the new food. We wanted to transition him instead of introducing it all at once. For instance, we mixed 75% of his old food with 25% new food and changed the proportions every day until he was consistently on the new formula. It worked really well for us and his eating habits didn’t change at all.

During his first visit to the vet, she informed me to try to figure out what makes him feel the most comfortable. Since it seemed like he associated his crate with his flight to Georgia, it proved to be very difficult to use the crate to train him. When I put him in there the first time, he had an accident; he was beyond terrified when he came out. I did not like him feeling that way and immediately sought help from the vet on how to proceed. We both agreed that crate training him would probably not be a good idea and decided to use another method.

I bought a puppy play pen and put his potty pads in there and to create a comfort area for him. It worked out great for us because we were able to put a bed in his playpen, as well as his food bowl. He now associates the pen as his safe place. We leave the flap open often so that he can go in and out as he pleases. It is also where I put him when I am unable to consistently keep an eye on him. This prevents him from getting into things while I’m cooking, showering, or if I have to leave home to run errands. He absolutely LOVES it in there. The accidents have decreased tremendously, in comparison to us training him on potty pads in a random area-- which did not work, by the way, because he would then go wherever he wanted to lol.

Where We Are Now

Now we are entering the phase of discipline and teaching him tricks using training treats. So far he knows how to “sit” when told and actually stays seated for longer periods of time every day. I accomplished this by giving him a treat every time he would sit when told, no matter how long he stayed seated. Then I slowly began to withhold the treat for longer periods of time until he learned to stay seated. I either gave him a treat or the command that he could get up.

Showing excessive amounts of praise when your puppy does something right – potty’s on the pad or sits – is very important to reinforce to them that they are doing a good job.

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