Why Plan A Puppy Set Up?
Before your puppy joins your household you’ll need to think about what you will need and where in the house you will situate your dedicated ‘puppy zones’. Having this set up beforehand will enable you to ‘hit the ground running’. So what’s the perfect puppy set up?
When your puppy comes home you need to be in control, as much as you can, from the very start. Supervising your puppy’s movements and behaviors will not only help you but will also help your puppy understands the rules of the alien environment it finds itself in.
Hopefully your breeder will have the puppy well socialized but everything, all interactions and experiences, act as an assault on the senses of your young puppy and will naturally raise anxiety and/or curiosity.
You’ll need to be wear many hats – guide, counselor and teacher (sometimes a stern one). It’s not an easy role and time and help will be required. That help may be in the form of human assistance but also in the form of the environment you create.
Short term the habitat, and management of it, will speed up puppy house training, sleeping through the night and the ability of your puppy to be left alone. It will also help in the adoption of a daily routine that will ultimately give you the confidence allow your puppy more freedom and room to investigate.
What Does The Perfect Puppy Set Up Contain?
Short Term Confinement Area
The best solution for short term confinement/management in your puppy set up is a crate. The crate will also double as your dog’s sleeping area in its early months.
You need a crate that is big enough for your dog to be able to get up and turn around in. There are many good options on the market but if you want to ‘future’ proof your purchase then a crate with a divider in is ideal. This will allow you to expand the size of the crate as your puppy grows – and that can be dramatic with some breeds!
The crate should include a bed or soft cushioning so your puppy can lie down comfortably.
You will need to crate train your puppy from day one. A key enabler to its success is the early introduction and familiarization of chew toys. If you can get your puppy hooked on these from an early age then it helps in your dog developing an ability to settle and accept being alone when required. After a puppy has settled and is mentally stimulated following the extraction of all the treats from its toy it will more than likely fall asleep – puppies sleep a lot.
Puppies should not be kept in their crate for too long during the day and should be let out periodically to do their business (is that an English saying? – you know what I mean).
The crate is also ideal for the very young puppy if you have to do something around the house such as cooking or taking a shower. It is amazing the number of times you will ‘almost’ step on your puppy and have to perform a jaunty jig to avoid squashing them as they follow you round. This is far from ideal if you have hot food or boiling water in your hands!
Play Pen/Longer Term Confinement Area
A play pen is the second weapon in your armory. This should be used for longer periods of confinement such as when you have to leave the house. This requires training in a very similar way to the Crate to familiarize your puppy. Clicker training is an ideal form of positive reinforcement training for this and many other commands and behaviors. Chew toy and crate training with your dog will help them acclimatize to a larger pen area.
As your puppy gets used to their surroundings the pen can replace the crate for an area where your dog can keep themselves occupied if you are up to something in your house where it would be safer or easier if your puppy wasn’t under your feet.
Remember every feed time with your puppy is an opportunity to train. I would suggest training with kibble at every opportunity in the first couple of months – put that bowl away.
The pen should again contain a bed – you could take this out of your crate, a water bowl and puppy pads or doggy toilet as far away from the bedding area as possible.
You should always provide water for your dog especially when you are away for any length of time. If you are fortunate enough to have enough space you can have strategic areas for both your pen and crate, alternatively if space is tight you could set up a play pen around your dogs crate when required – the crate acting as the sleeping area.
The puppy pads should be secured where possible – some have adhesive strips that you can peel back when applying to the floor. Your dog will pee and poo as their small bowels will not be capable of holding it in for any extended amount of time.
There are ‘swanky’ dog toilets that capture the number ones and twos, some attempt to replicate the feeling of ‘going’ on grass which is the feeling you ideally want to promote to your youngster whilst house training.
For the DIY experts amongst you – I am an IKEA wizard but I barely trust myself with a drill – you could look to create your own doggy WC. The video below gives an example. For inclusion in your puppy pen it can be much smaller than the example shown and doesn’t require castors (a small one could be lifted and moved) but concept is sound.
As your puppy matures you will be able to extend the ‘control’ zones within your house or apartment. This will depend on the configuration of your residence and space available. Tools such as folding pet gates can isolate areas.
The example below is indicative of how a management plan might evolve. It is normal that early puppy environments be in areas such as kitchens or rooms where there is a surface that can be easily cleaned – there will be inevitable accidents!
- Crate – Short Term confinement area
- Expand to larger pen, can also be used for longer periods of confinement (sleep in crate at night)
- When your puppy has behaved well in Crate and pen you may want to give them the run of the reception room in this example (You may remove pen and puppy will continue to sleep in crate). In this example a removable divider has been used to close up the passage between the reception room and Kitchen.
- Open up the Kitchen in addition to the reception room. A sliding gate has been added to one of the kitchen doors to allow easy access, allow light in and make the area feel less confined (see picture below)
If you have issues when ‘opening up’ a new area return to the last step.
This gradual progression will give you more confidence your dog is happy and well behaved in their environment and will give your dog confidence that they are safe and secure in their living areas and that you always return!
In time you can open up other rooms and give your well adjusted puppy the run of the house.