New Puppy 101
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
by Maura Hennelly
The day is finally here- you are bringing home your new Golden retriever puppy! We are so excited for you and your family. Here are a few tips from the Classic Heritage team that will help set your puppy up for success in their new home with you.
Utilize crate training. We begin introducing our puppies to wire and plastic crates starting at around four weeks old. By the time they go home at ten weeks, they are eating their meals and taking naps in crates daily. It may take some time to adjust at first, but your puppy will have the building blocks to come to see their crate as a safe space. Crate training is not only an excellent way to prevent separation anxiety and teach your pup to self-soothe, but it also ensures that they are not given the opportunity to learn destructive behaviors. Your puppy should be in their crate whenever they are not under direct supervision. We recommend tossing some training treats (like Stewart Freeze-dried Liver Treats) or a long-lasting chew in the crate as positive reinforcement. If you will be out of the house for more than a couple hours, try stuffing a Kong or Westpaw Toppl with some yogurt, pumpkin puree, or another creamy treat and popping it in the freezer for an hour or two to keep your pup occupied for a longer time. You will come home to a happy and well-rested puppy!
Anticipate potty time. Puppies are surprisingly predictable when it comes to bathroom breaks. Some key times to take them outside are when they wake from a nap, after eating a meal, after training sessions or playtime, and before bedtime. Accidents happen, but many of them are preventable. Pay close attention to your little one and keep stain remover on hand! At Classic Heritage, all of our puppies are trained to relieve themselves in a designated potty area on pine pellet animal bedding (never use cedar, as it contains oils that are harmful to a puppy's respiratory system). To give your puppy a leg up on house training, keep a kiddie pool or low-sided plastic bin with a layer of pine pellets near the back door for the first few weeks and gradually move it outside onto their potty area. We never recommend using pee pads, as puppies can chew and may swallow them (link: pee-pads eating). Our litters are scent trained to potty on aspen and pine bedding starting at around two weeks old, so they will naturally seek out those scents to relieve themselves by the time they go home at ten weeks. For the quickest results with the least amount of messes, this is our recommended house training protocol.
Puppy proof inside and out. It is no secret that Golden retrievers love to eat. Before you bring your puppy home, you should take great care to put away anything in the house and outside that your pup should not be eating. This includes but is not limited to toxic plants, loose socks or other clothing, rodent poison, and anything small enough to choke on. Make sure garbage cans have secure lids or are otherwise inaccessible. If you have fruit trees in your yard, be sure to keep the ground clear of rotting fruit. Offer your puppy a variety of safe toys and long-lasting chews, such as split antlers or bully sticks, so they have plenty of acceptable options when they need to chew. NEVER give rawhide to your puppy, as it is a major choking hazard.
Socialize early and often. The first six months of your puppy’s life is a critical learning period that will set the stage for their confidence, habits, and adult temperament. Socialization and exposure to new things should be a priority throughout this time. Meet with a friend or trainer with a trusted adult dog who is friendly and gentle, but will properly correct your pup if necessary. Your Classic Heritage puppy will have had interactions with well-behaved adult dogs throughout their puppyhood. Still, it is important to continue this socialization for several months to allow the puppy to learn body language, social cues, and polite greetings with other dogs. Be sure to expose your puppy to grooming tools, water, loud noises, large objects such as garbage bins, lots of people, and other animals. Always carry treats on hand and reward your puppy often to build positive associations with these new and potentially scary things. One of the best ways to socialize a young pup is to sit in a high-traffic area such as a shopping mall or park, and simply offer treats while your puppy observes their surroundings. Home Depot is a favorite place for us, as there are plenty of noises and distractions. Here is a list of stores that allow dogs (list). We never recommend taking puppies to dog parks, as they are uncontrolled environments that often contain aggressive or improperly socialized dogs. Try to make every new experience with your puppy a positive one!