We picked up our gorgeous puppy Working Cocker Spaniel, Rocket, from Devon last week. We were very excited and had already had all our equipment set up at home for a week or so to get our other dog Pixel ready for the big change.
On the day, these are some of the things we took with us:
- Crate for Rocket
- Vet bed, blanket
- Extra blankets incase of accidents
- Puppy wipes
- Puppy pen
- Non-slip water bowl
- Large puppy pads for puppy toilet breaks
- Large cardboard to go underneath
The Journey Back
It took 4 hours and we stopped twice, luckily Rocket had been crate trained by the breeder so he’s already happy in his crate which made our lives so much easier for the journey back.
Rocket was only just over 8 weeks old, and not yet vaccinated. We did not want to risk putting him on the ground at the motorway services, so we prepared a toilet break in the boot of our car! We set up the cardboard, puppy pad and the pen to keep him safe – after a bit of food and nibble, he did it, yay!
Home Sweet Home
As soon as we arrived home, it was straight out to the garden for a toilet break – as we don’t have a collar yet we have a couple of puppy pens put together to make a secure area for Rocket to toilet in and not get distracted by all the other things in our garden. It’s important to restrict access and not overwhelm with too many distractions.
Building a Positive Relationship
Our main focus this week was on Relationship. Building trust, confidence and learning to love us 😃 . This means we make it real easy for Rocket to win, and there are no rules – he just keeps winning and keeps getting happier and more confident #NoRulesTraining
Ditch The Bowl
Ditching the bowl is one of the first thing we teach in puppy class – using their daily food allowance for training. It’s #DitchTheBowl from day one – All his food allowance from now on will be used for games and building even more value for his pens, crates and boundaries. We focused on playing some fairly calming games such as “food follow“, “boundary games” and giving him plenty of Kongs and toys to chew. He’s a busy little Cocker Spaniel, the more calm we can keep him, the better he will be able to settle and sleep.
Getting to Know Our Little Boy & No Rules Training
We do not need to teach him to wait for his food, or offer any kind of self control, at this stage we are building relationships and confidence. I had planned to do some harness shaping, but I didn’t want to add too much too soon as he had become a little timid, shy and aware of new things since coming home as well as a poorly tummy so we can be flexible and work on this next week. Because he had a poorly tummy our first priority was to speak with the vets, we felt that it was most likely the stress of being away from mum, litter mates and familiar surroundings, but the vet also suggested we only use the kibble he was on before and feed small amounts regularly.
Ditch The Routine
Where possible we try to ditch the routine, so sometimes he will sleep downstairs, sometimes in the kitchen or even switching between a pen and crate. We will take him on short car journeys and straight back home again so it become a ‘non-event’ and nothing to be worried or over excited about.
The Annoying Little Brother
Pixel is having a hard time adjusting to the fact that there is another dog around 24/7, she mostly tries to avoid him. We will not rush their greetings, we have plenty of time to get them used to each other so will continue to use pens to separate them. Pixel also has access to the whole house and our bedroom she has all to herself.
Life Carries On – Planning Ahead
If I have things to be getting on with, I will need to plan ahead and make sure he will settle, so I will take him out for toilet break, play a few games in the kitchen, spending about 30 – 45 mins up and awake with a toilet break in the middle (yes so many toilet breaks, even then we still have accidents). Then another toilet break and settle him in his pen or crate. I sit by him helping to settle, giving him a kong or scatter feed. Once settled I will go off and do my chores, I am not trying to stay quiet at this point as I want him to be able to sleep through me moving about. If I pop out, it will be for no more than an hour.
We are now both exhausted and have been setting alarms every 3 hours at night time, we are determined to put in the hard work now to really help with toilet training. But accidents will still happen, no escaping them, we just stay calm, take him outside incase he has another wee then pop him in the other pen or crate or kitchen while I clean it up with special pet cleaner.
The key to successful puppy toilet training is planning ahead, consistency and staying positive!
Positive + Stress-Free Upbringing
I have taken time off as much as possible to be there for him as much as I can, this will help to grow his independence and ability to settle on his own a bit more naturally rather than trying to force it too soon. We also spent those first few nights with him so he wasn’t alone at night to help him settle. He has already been through so much, I want to make him feel comfortable and happy.
One thing we are keeping in mind throughout this whole process is:
the absence of a bad experience is far better than 100 good experiences and one bad.
We are growing Rocket’s optimism and resilience so he will become a super happy confident dog.
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