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Settling in Period

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

In general, when a puppy comes home, he or she (he) will quite naturally accommodate himself to his new environment. He will observe the tempo of the new home, its pace, energy level, noise level, activity level as well as routine, in eating, exercise, play, etc and find a rhythm that will match.

This is not always the case though and it is not always an immediate adjustment. It can in fact take three weeks for a new puppy to settle in. While this may seem like a very long and trying period for you as your cute little puppy makes messes on the floor, tears through a prized shoe or has trouble settling himself in the crate, the payoff for your patience is years of healthy relationship.

While this is a challenge, the time and patience extended to your little pup during this period is well worth it - he needs to be given a little rope until he has figured out how to blend with his new pack. Resist the urge to discipline him at this stage, simply ignore him when he is misbehaving, which serves as deterrent enough because attention is what most puppies want most. When he messes, quietly and quickly clean it up, remove it from the house and take your puppy out to where he should be going - even though you know he can't or won't because he has just relieved himself and then go about your business.

There are things that you can do for your puppy at this stage. You can show your puppy what kind of energy you expect in the house by rewarding it. This can come in the form of small training sessions. Manding is the first training we did with your puppy and as he is in a new home, a refresher will serve to give continuity, will help the puppy calm, and will give him some mental stimulation as he works to please you. Manding is nothing more than holding something your puppy BADLY wants, and quietly waiting for him to place himself in front of you, to sit his little behind down and to look up and wait for you to reward this excellent self calming activity. I have made a short video of how we mand with young puppies from 4 weeks on. This is easy to do and takes only minutes of time. You will enjoy seeing how your puppy can learn and communicate with you.

Another extremely important item to be thinking carefully about is to set your puppy up for success. This means that before your puppy meets new people, dogs or animals during this critical period, you want to know the new person or dog beforehand and have planned for the encounter. Spend a moment briefing your human guest as to what you need from him/her, provide them with some treats and explain what manding is and how to ask for it. Have them approach in a low energy state, calmly so as not to excite your puppy. When it comes to new dogs, it is even more important that you know the dog. Not all dogs are made equal and because the lagotto is gentle, a larger, more rambunctious dog can scare a lagotto pup, even if the new dog is wonderful and asking to play. This results in your pup acting out of fear. Find calm, older dogs who are ideally known for their maternalistic nature and can allow your pup to approach at their pace. The puppy needs to be in control of the encounter. This will include an object or area that the puppy can retreat to if the energy level is uncomfortable - a small chair, a table, etc. The puppy has to be in charge. To this end, be sure that you do not feel that the puppy HAS to interact with the new dog - it may take several meetings or sessions before the puppy decides that he trusts this newcomer and wants to get to know him - that is ok. The key during this time is POSITIVE experiences over quantity. A few good encounters is far more valuable than dozens of questionable ones at the local dog park.

Your puppy is losing his puppy teeth and so needs to work his gums. That said, your puppy never needs to do so on your skin. Most puppies will come to accept that you are off limits when it comes to biting. Some will accept alternatives when offered. For those who find that their puppy bites, it can be a result of allowing the puppy to become overamped. A puppy that has played with you in a high energy manner for an extended period of time (an hour of rough housing, or allowing the kids to run crazy loops around the house with the puppy), can bring the puppy to a state where he is responding out of instinctual need rather than using his higher brain. This can come in the form of rapid biting, pawing, and other frenetic behaviors. This is best dealt with by not allowing this state to be reached in the first place. Puppies need to have down time just as much as young children after an afternoon outside on the playground. Be thoughtful in planning your schedule so that after a walk or an extended play period, (20 min.) you give your puppy a chew toy or bully stick and place him in his pen so that he can calm himself and take a rest, whether that is a nap or just a quiet time.

If your puppy has a tendency to bite at all times, there are two related actions you can take to help teach your puppy more appropriate behaviour. First you can withhold your attention when he bites. That may mean that when your enjoyable quiet time on the sofa turns to biting, you can remove the puppy and place him in his pen for quiet time - thus ending and withholding the attention he was enjoying. Alternatively, you can simply get up and leave - removing yourself. Second, you can start a short training session on the spot. With a clicker and treat in hand, you can train him in any new skill you wish to teach. That can be from a chair or it can be a walk - even if only in the yard. The message the puppy gets is that he gets treats when he is not chewing on you.

This will not cover all the challenges you will face in the first few weeks as you and your puppy settle in and get used to one another, but it should help you with the most significant and potentially troublesome.

As always, I remain here for you, ready and willing to help you overcome the challenges you face,

DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:bib3eIn general when a new puppy comes home, he or she (he) will quite naturally accommodate himself to his new environment. He will observe the tempo of the new home, its pace, energy level, noise level, activity level as well as routine, in eating, exercise, play, etc and find a rhythm that will match.

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