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Advice for SOON-TO-BE Puppy Owner!

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Hi everyone,


I am 4 weeks away from getting my first puppy - a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback! I am a first time dog owner, but my husband has had 2 dogs in the past. 

I want to do a really good job at raising a well-balanced, social and obedient dog - am I asking too much?! Haha...

I am committed to spending the time and effort into training and have spent time on YouTube getting lots of tips & tricks.


I'm after any advice you have in regards to:

  • settling in/first few nights
  • night time settling
  • potty training
  • behavioural training/socialisation; (I've heard Ridegbacks can be a bit rambunctious with other dogs and not "play nice"?)
  • destruction around the home/destructive chewing/digging
  • crate training
  • what age to de-sex male puppy
  • anything else you think is important!


I am realistic in my expectations - I know we will have many accidents inside, I know he will cry at night for the first while, I know he will chew and dig - he is a dog after all. But any advice on ways to make it smoother for both of us would be appreciated. I thought it would be great to go into this with a bit of preparation so my husband and I have a game plan to stick to, instead of trying to make it up on the run! (Eg: a rule from Day 1 that we never respond to whining at night time). 


Basically - if you had your time over again, what would you do from Day 1 of puppy ownership?


Thanks in advance!



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Your breeder may have already started on house training so talk to them about it.  I'm a fan of crate training as I travel with my dogs and they settle really quickly once the crate is set up.  Also find a really good puppy school and recommendations for dog training.


And my last bit of advice is that training is for the life of the dog, it never stops.  Enjoy your puppy!

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Hi @griffiths  congratulations on your new puppy!    


First rule,  be flexible,  some advice will work well for you & pup,   some things you try with pup won't  suit your lifestyle,  be willing to let these ideas go 


I have found if puppy is in a crate beside your bed at night he will be comforted by your nearness, &  you can take him out for toileting quickly when he stirs,  maybe 1 or 2 times a night for about 4 - 8 weeks

I took my pup outside on a leash for potty time so I could control where she went

With destruction in your home,  all I can say is if you don't want puppy  to have access &  DESTROY  some things then put valuables out of reach or close doors  or  baby gate doorways

I hope this helps a little  be flexible,  if something is not working for you try a different way :)

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no need to have "many" accidents in the house. I always set the alarm for twice during the night to take the puppy to the toilet overnight. IE last wee break at 10 pm, then up again at 1, then 4 then normal rising time. And, rather quickly, start extending the times. 10 pm, then 2am, 5 am etc I use a crate at night in the same bedroom as me. If the pupwakes up before alarm time then they are taken out and alarm reset. By 12 weeks they are usually sleeping 8 hours at least a night. Much better then human babies!


Your breeder might have something in their contract about desexing but IMO not before 12 months and after 18 months would be better.


My house is basically puppy proof, clothes and shoes put away, food stuffs not left out, plenty of play time outside in the fresh air and in the crate when unsupervised.


Ask your breeder!


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Every puppy is different ... my dog was really easy to toilet train , she has been from 12 weeks old.

She has never been a digger, chewer or had any trouble sleeping through the night.

I think though that she has set me up for failure in my next puppy :laugh: 


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In addition to all the good advice already given  … try to think in terms of behaviours and routines you want the puppy to do, and concentrate on training and rewarding those.   If you see behaviours you don't want to see again, think whether there are ways you can manage things to prevent repeats … like confining the puppy to a safe and comfortable  place .. crate, or xpen, or baby gated safe room, when you can't be actively supervising.   Another way is to train (by heavily and consistently rewarding)  behaviours that are incompatible with the behaviour you don't want … so … sitting when meeting people (to avoid the jumping up).   Good luck with training the people not to encourage the jumping up :laugh:.


One thing I find really useful to train is a "wait for a release word"  - so for instance, going through a door,  I train a sit to wait in that instance ,, and work on pup holding that sit until I give the release word .. even if the door is open.    Helps with impulse control, applies in any situations,... door, gate, car, crate, xpen ….  and can be a life saver.


And when pup is little, it's really important to get pup out and about in the world …. safely .. in your arms for instance, but so pup can get used to seeing and hearing the sights and sounds of the society.  You want to make all these just neutral background "noise" for the pup.  If pup shows signs of fear or worry .. just calmly increase distance from the scary thing .. there's plenty of time, and pup needs to know that you can deal with all those things.  Turn and go is a really useful skill for you to learn.


When I get a new pup, I really like to take pup to my vet for a well puppy consult visit .. and I will usually take pup in my arms into the waiting room (when it's not busy) to make the appointment and start meeting the staff.   Not only is this a nice introduction for the pup, but for the staff, it can be a major stress reliever, especially if they've been having a bad day.

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If you have brought from a good breeder they will be your best resource on the breed itself ,they may also have good suggestions of trainers .

I applaud you on sounding very realistic & not mentioning "furbaby" so chances are you will be a great owner who wants to raise a wonderful dog .

Like already mentioned don't over think it & don't over research .
Ask your breeder about the traits the puppy has shown thus far .
Keep it simple & above all "common sense". Training is not hard but so many owners these days read too much & listen to too much & get confused ,as a result the dog ends up even more confused through no fault of its own .

For me with my large breed puppies i have to items that are not negotiable at this age .Charging through a door ,car,house,gate & pulling on a lead .
I have showdogs so lead training is important to me for the ring BUT very important for life .
As puppies they crave to learn when on the lead & we often start our pups before leaving leash manners .Dont fool into the trap of cute puppy if it pulls ,cute puppy grows very quickly to large puppy .
I will spend more fun time on the lead that teaching other commands & stand is a command at the end of the day & more useful than sit for vet visits,nail trimming & going over the dog checking for ticks,lumps & bumps .


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Best advice I got on here was to remember to work with what you have infront of you.


Don't compare to other dogs, etc. Don't be upset over mishaps. Just continue to be consistent and make sure to reward/reinforce the behaviours you want to see more of. 

Rewards can and do vary from situation to situation. From one dog to another. Your attention can be rewarding, barking can be rewarding, treats can be rewarding, going on leash, through a door, or anything that the dog wants is a potential reward. Patience is key, chose your moments wisely.


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