There are two basic steps in successfully acclimating your puppy to their new home:
- Develop a Schedule
- Establish boundaries
Dogs are creatures of habit and pattern learners. That means by feeding them close to the same time every day, using a crate effectively and being consistent with your expectations and corrections you and your puppy will have a much greater chance of success. By developing a schedule for the puppy they will begin to adjust to your schedule, you will be able to more effectively handle crate training and also limit the opportunities for your dog to do the wrong thing; thus putting yourself in the best position possible.
Therefore, in the beginning you always want to put your puppy in the crate at night and when no one is home during the day. By doing this it encourages them not to use the bathroom while no one is around to let them outside. Most dogs like to keep their areas clean and will usually only go in their crate as a last resort, but if left unattended in a new home they are prone to use the bathroom inside and even begin marking their territory. Then, when you let them out of their crate they go straight outside to use the bathroom, if they use the bathroom then the dog is free to come and run around the house, if they do not use the bathroom, you should put them back in their crate.
Also, by putting them in the crate at times that no one is around to supervise, you are setting both you and your dog up for definite success and further acclimating them to your schedule. Because the dog is now on your schedule we can work on developing boundaries for your new puppy in their new home. For puppies under twelve weeks I recommend that they have a flat collar on and drag a line (usually some type of sturdy rope with a snap on the end) around on that flat collar. This way they begin associating positive activities with a collar and a leash. They will eat, play and receive love with the line on, thus the dog begins to see the line in a positive light.
Another positive of them dragging the line around is that they become easily accessible when you need to correct them for negative behaviors, which will significantly help in setting boundaries. Now because, your puppy is under twelve weeks old, I recommend that the correction be a pinch on the cheek, just below the ear (as shown in the picture below). This correction mimics the same correction that they would receive from their mother and is the one that speaks to your puppy the best. So, if they are chewing at your fingers, getting into the trash or jumping on company you want to grab the line and pinch their cheek, followed with a “No, bad dog. No jumping,” or chewing or whatever it is that they are doing wrong.
You want to make sure to let your dog know specifically what they are doing wrong. If all you ever say is “No” but do not tell them what they are doing that’s wrong, then they are not receiving the complete information and boundaries and not being set. Just by giving your puppy this simple correction and developing boundaries you are setting yourself up for success. Then, you already have a solid foundation once your puppy reaches twelve weeks old and you can begin formal training!