A 2-month-old puppy is ready to learn. You can teach this puppy to be a monster or an angel. The breeder will have started out by choosing the pedigree and doing early socialization, but now the fun starts.
Early am – Alarm goes off, puppy pops up, bouncing in her crate, Gotta PEE. Mom shoves her feet into shoes, grabs the leash snapped to the crate door, opens the crate door, scoops up puppy, and heads for the door. She did this a couple of times last night without really waking up. Sets puppy down outside and puppy squats, Ah, relief! When puppy stands up, finished, mom clucks with her tongue (forgot the clicker next to the bed) and rubs puppy’s head in praise (forgot the treats next to the clicker) and hooks up the leash to the collar (forgot to do that as well). She starts off down the yard and puppy bows up a little at the tug on the collar, but Mom bends down to her level, murmurs happily to her and wiggles her fingers. Puppy steps towards the fingers, which earns her a tongue-click and a rub under her chin. More tongue clicks because the clicker is sitting on the table next to the bed. And Mom backs up, so Puppy is now following, more tongue clicks, rubbing puppy’s chin, and a Good, Puppy! just because. Mom eases around until she is is right on her heels, clingy because the safety zone is real tight the first few days away from home. There is a leaf to pounce on and a shadow to stare at, and Mom encourages her with soft praise and Mom bends over a lot for rubs under puppy’s chin.
If the leash gets tight, mom stops still and says OOPS! When the leash goes loose, mom says, YES! then takes the next step. Loose leash = GOOD PUPPY. Tight leash = OOPS. At this age, it’s a lot easier to back up for a tight leash. or go 180 degrees the other direction when the leash get tight.
Then they are back to the door. Mom says, Puppy Sit! And because she forgot the treats, she gently lifts the chin, and gently eases the rear down. GOOD, Puppy! Puppy wiggles all over and Mom smiles at her before opening the door. Puppy follows on her heels to the kitchen, leashed, but already knows where food is in the kitchen.
Mom hooks the leash over her wrist and picks up the already-filled puppy bowl from the counter. Puppy Screeches and jumps on the cabinet door. Mom eases a knee over and nudges puppy off the counter, Puppy Sit! she says happily, holding one kibble on puppy’s nose, and easing it back towards the tail, so puppy’s nose goes up, her butt goes down, and as mom hands her the kibble, the bowl hits the floor at puppy’s feet. Puppy dives into the bowl and mom bend over and wiggles her fingers in the bowl, rubs puppy’s muzzle while she eats, and tells her what a good girl she is. Mom takes her hand away from the bowl, grabs a liver treat from the counter, and puts her hand back in the bowl with the liver treat in the middle of her fist. When puppy grabs at her hand with teeth, mom says, Naaahhhhh! and keeps her fist closed. Puppy licks her fist and mom opens her fist so puppy can get the super treat! Mom scoops up puppy and plops her in her crate in the kitchen, not the one she slept in in the bedroom.
And Mom starts to get ready for the day. Puppy screeches to wake the dead and mom comes back and walks by the crate, ignoring her caterwauling. Half an hour later, mom is dressed and she comes back for puppy who immediately starts scrambling and pawing at the crate door. Mom says, Naaahhhh! and pulls her hand away. This goes on two or three times until puppy figures it out and sits back in frustration. GOOD PUPPY! mom says and pops open the crate, scoops up puppy, and heads outside.
They stay outside while puppy potties, twice, GOOD PUPPY! each time and then recall games where mom watches puppy and when puppy is done being distracted and investigating, she calls out, PUPPY COME, and runs the other direction. Puppy will follow because that’s where the fun happens, and mom turns around and bends over and rubs puppy all over, telling her how brilliant she is, how intelligent and wonderful she is. Puppy learns that coming when called is a wonderful thing.
They go back inside and mom hooks the leash over her wrist, loads her pocket with half a cup of kibble, and starts chores. Pup comes along for the ride, learning to watch mom’s body language for clues to when she’s going to stand up and walk away, which way she’s going, and when she’s going to stop. It’s a lot of work being that attentive, especially when mixed with 3-minute puppy drills of sit, down, stand, down, sit, spin left, spin right, paw left, paw right. Mom uses a piece of kibble as a treat since puppy has a new schedule and a new water source and a new environment and mom is trying to keep the new things down to a minimum. When pup gets grabby, she gets down on the level with the pup and teaches EASY by fisting the kibble and only opens her hand for licks and kisses, never for teeth. With a fist she can bop the pup on the nose for teeth, and open the fist as a reward for soft mouth.
Another trip outside, and it’s time for morning nap in the crate. Pup has empty bowels and is a little worn out from all the excitement of following on a leash and training. But not so much pup can’t holler from the crate, so mom sets up the 20″ box fan from the big box store a couple of feet in front of the crate. She knows this will drop the temps a few degrees and create white noise so hopefully pup will take a nap.
A while later pup wakes up and lets the whole block know. Time to go back out again. Another potty break. Another mini-training session outside. And at the backdoor. Then back inside for lunch. Another half hour in the crate, then a follow-up visit outside because mom knows that all pups are wired to potty after they sleep, after they eat, and after they play.
When pup is empty this time, they come back in and mom knows that new puppies must be in a crate, on a leash, or in a fence. So back in the house, still on a leash, and pup is never more than 6-feet away from mom, so she can keep an eye on pup for mistakes or accidents. After 15 minutes or so leashed while mom is sedentary, pup goes back in the crate for half an hour.
Then back outside for a mini-walk. Sometimes they get all the way to the mailbox, sometimes it’s just one step forward, tight leash, stop and say OOPS! If she does too many OOPS in a row, mom starts taking a step backwards while calling the puppy, and if that doesn’t get the idea through, then turning and walking the other direction might work. Eventually it gets through the puppy brain and she starts watching mom instead of this great big world and they make it all the way to the mailbox. YAY!
Back to the house and now it’s dinner time. Sit for a meal, fed in the crate, wait half an hour, open crate with no pawing, scoop pup and hurry outside for a potty break. Potty twice, scoop the yard, mini-training session in the yard and at the back door. Back inside for 15 minutes on a leash while mom fixes people-dinner and pup watches her every move.
Crate the puppy while people eat and do dishes. Quick trip outside then leashed while mom catches some TV, pup is content, now is the time to put pup on her back on mom’s lap and work on slow, relaxed belly rubs and toe/nose/eyes/ear inspections.
Last call outside, then upstairs to the bedroom crate. Night-night puppy. Please sleep at least 6 hours. And mom finds the clicker beside the bed and vows to remember it tomorrow.
After am potty visit to the yard, clean up, breakfast, and follow-up potty break, mom gets ready to take puppy to the local pet-friendly feed store. She packs her clicker, her kibble treats, and makes sure pup has on her ID collar and her leash-collar — the best dressed puppies wear two collars so if the leash collar breaks, the pup still has on her ID tags.
They go out to the car and pup wigs out, the big scary car might get her. So mom scoops her up and decides pup will have a few meals in the crate in the car next week. They head out. Pup is safe in her crate, mom is wearing her seatbelt, away they go.
Pup is excited now and paws her crate, but mom knows not to let her do that and to wait her out. Pulling her hand back if she hasn’t unlatched the crate door yet or banging the door if it’s already unlatched. Puppy is a princess, but she is not a pouty princess brat and will not be allowed to act like one.
The double automatic doors are a little alarming but with treats and encouragement and patience, they manage to over come the monster. And directly inside is the cash register with the friendly clerk who has a treat and a pat for puppy. This isn’t so bad. Mom scoops up puppy and sets her in a buggy cart. She keeps an eye out for sniffling puppies or goopy-eyed puppies or posturing adults and they make their way back to the kibble aisle, then the gerbil aisle, the treat aisle, and finally the toy aisle. That looks like a smart toy for the puppy, it squeaks, it’s fluffy, and it won’t break the bank. Best of all, pup grabs the toy and hunkers over it, squeaking away happily. Good job, mom
Saturday evening, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday morning puppy got her kibbles in the car crate so now she leads the way, a little tugging on the leash, but mom calls OOPS and pup slacks up on the leash. GOOD PUPPY! They get in the car crate, mom buckles up, and away they go. The glass door at the vet’s office isn’t automatic, so pup bumps her nose in it, backs up and bumps again. Mom shows her how to WAIT and then she opens the door and pup slinks in, this place is not nearly as much fun as the Gerbil store.
Pup wakes up when the alarm goes off. He sits and waits while mom opens the crate and he hops out and runs downstairs and sits at the back door for mom to catch up, open up, and release him. He walks through and immediately goes to his favorite spots in the yard. Go POTTY, mom calls, but he already knows that part. When he’s done, he hurries back, takes his treat and follows mom into the house. He follows her around as she gets ready, then when she goes to the kitchen, he hops into his crate and waits for breakfast. He chows down, then drinks from his bucket, then lies down and waits for her to come get him. She comes back with a leash and he perks up. Walkies? Mom grabs her purse. Better than walkies, RIDES!
He walks out on a loose leash straight to the car. She opens up and he hops into the crate, turns around and sits. GOOD DOG!
Pup saunters into the vet’s office, he’s been here for his 3-month shots, his 4-month shots, his 5-month weight/treat visit, his 6-month weight/treat visit, his 7-month weight/treat visit, his 8-month weight/treat visit, his 9-month weight/treat visit, and his 10-month weight/treat visit. He figured out a long time ago that visits to the vet are great, he gets attention, treats, stands on a scale and everyone tells him how handsome he is. So by this point, he thinks vet offices are where the treats happen.
He sits and waits while mom schedules the 1 year vet visit, which means treats, right? And then they stop off at the Feed Store for a bag of dog food and a visit to the little animated tennis balls behind glass.
When he gets home, he sits at the door so mom can take the leash off and hang it on a hook, then he wags through the house looking for his favorite toys, finds it under the couch cushion and zooms through his crate in case he missed a kibble, and decides to stay in there because it’s a happy place where good things happen and its his place. His other place, because his best place is his crate beside mom’s bed. But it’s a close second-best.