Eek, its all getting very exciting now!
This is the final push to get our house and garden ready for our new little man but more importantly we are preparing our dogs for the change to their lives. Its right that we put a lot of thought into helping the new baby cope with the transition away from their birth family and home but too often we dont consider how much of an impact a strange little baby will be to our adult dogs. We just turn up with them and suddenly they find themselves sharing all of their stuff including our time and attention with this interloper.
Even for dogs who are used to new dogs staying in the home and like spending time with puppies its going to be an adjustment so part of our preparations are to smooth the way to help our adults make the best of this situation. We complete the changes to the house and garden a while before the baby is due to arrive, this gives our adults chance to negotiate around them and also we can tweak stuff that doesn’t work well for them. I dont go overboard on puppy proofing everything, there is nothing that is incredibly dangerous to dogs easily accessible in our house except stairs and cables but a few practical changes will make life easier.
The area of the living room which will be where puppy and I spend the first few nights (until the nightime wee trips are down to one or none) is sectioned off. This means that I have an enclosed puppy proofed area where I don’t need to worry that he will hurt himself and a place where one of the house hoomans can be comfy while keeping him company when the other is showering/cooking/etc. In time this is where we would like him to chill out when we are absent so building an association of calm relaxation to here will pay off. The adults can get in and out over the barrier and have an elevated bed just outside to help if they want to keep out of the puppys reach for a while but still be close to us. (there are multiple desirable resting areas around the house and garden but they will often prioritise the ones that are closest to wherever we are.) The top and bottom of the stairs will be barriered so our adults need to get used to that as although it will only be a tempory measure they are used to having free movement around the house. Using stairs both up and down puts an incredible strain on the puppys developing body and it really is best avoided for as long as possible.
We have picked one main exit that we will use for pup to get into the garden. Although both doors will be open most of the time its useful to have a planned route as the pee trips are so frequent in the first stage of becoming clean in the house. Puppies don’t have the muscle control necessary to prevent their waste from coming out so good management is the key to ensure the habit is formed by the time the muscle control comes on line. Puppy pads or a litter tray inside by the exit you have chosen creates an emergency target in case time runs out when you are still fumbling to get the door open or if you haven’t noticed the pup making their own way to try to get to outside until too late. Its worth considering how easy it is for the puppy to actually get outside, for example our garden is all different levels. The doors have a big sill then there are multiple steps onto the first level. Shortening the steps or using a ramp will make the journey easier particularly as our boy is a teeny pup with little legs. Ensure the fence line and any areas of standing water are secure, a small puppy can wriggle their way through remarkably tiny gaps particularly once they have settled in and begun to explore in ernest.
Our dogs have also already begun to ‘meet’ their new housemate. Cloths and soft items containing the others scent have been exchanged and we will do a final exchange the day before we collect him. Sadly, COVID has meant this process was less comprehensive than I would have normally chosen. I would have liked to also have several in person meetings before he came home with us but we are softening the shock as much as we can.
Along with all the changes we are doing lots of calm enjoyable activities with our adults, treat searches and sniffy walks. Adding a new member to our family is our decision so we have to make it as easy as possible for it to be a good thing for them too 😉