The below is an index of units intended to provide new Barrett puppy owners with a daily drill-down of information and recommended best practices in raising a Barrett puppy. Podcasts, where linked, are all episodes we’ve listened to and can personally vouch for. As always, please feel free to contact us directly with any questions, anytime. – Kim and Stacy
In this first week with your puppy (Week 8 in his life), we’ll cover socialization, check-ins, puppy poops, naming, training, and crating.
UNIT 8.1: Introduction. Congratulations on your new Weimaraner puppy!!! Keep in mind that your home is a big change for your little one. While passive training happens the moment you bring him home (and will continue for the rest of your dog’s life), use the first few days to get to know one another and don’t overdo it with training and/or expectations. Observe your puppy and follow his natural routine. Use moments he’s just waking from a nap to teach him about pottying outside. Let him explore the yard (under supervision) and pick one room in the house where he will be (usually the living room or kitchen). Snuggle with him if he wants to, but don’t hold onto him against his will. When he’s tired, put him into a crate and pet him until he falls asleep. Feed him what he’s been getting at our house, but don’t introduce other treats just yet, as puppies have sensitive digestive tracts and introducing new ingredients when he’s acclimating to a new routine could upset his tummy and loosen his stools. Keep our cell phone numbers handy and feel free to text us ANYTIME (Kim/CA litters is at 949-278-2981, and Stacy/AZ litters is at 480-202-0600). And gather some strength because the next four months will be intense, but worth it.
Today’s Goal: Successfully potty your puppy outside at least once.
UNIT 8.2: Enrichment, Exposure, and Socialization. Puppies grow and develop exponentially in their first four months of life. To that end, proper enrichment, exposure, and socialization will be CRITICAL for a puppy to mature into a well-adjusted adult. It’s so important that we have a 10-page checklist dedicated to it. If you haven’t already, please print it out and get started on checking off the list. In the weeks to follow, we’ll go back to the topic of socialization to make sure everyone is on the right track.
Today’s Goal: Knock off five (5) things on the socialization checklist.
UNIT 8.3: Check-In. It’s been a couple of days now… How’s it going?! What’s going well? What’s NOT going well? If you haven’t already, please download WhatsApp to your Android or iPhone so you can post questions to the Puppy Group. (Kim lives in a remote area and standard texts and photos don’t always work from home.) Please feel free to ask any question, anytime, through this App. There is no such thing as a stupid question and answers will be shared to the whole group so everyone benefits from the Q&A. You may opt out of this group at any time by simply exiting the group chat.
Today’s Goal: Download WhatsApp and be on the lookout for an invitation to join the Puppy Group.
UNIT 8.4: Loose Stools. Now that you’re a few days in, you may be noticing that your puppy is gifting you with loose stools. This is typically due to a change in environment (like going to a new home or being acclimated into a new routine) and actually quite common in puppies. If his appetite is still good, the easiest fix is to buy a can of 100% pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) and mix about two (2) teaspoons in with every meal for the next 3-5 days. You can find this at the local supermarket in the baking aisle. The stools will start to firm up, with a little bit of an orange hue to it. That’s normal. If this doesn’t resolve in the next week or so, we’ll troubleshoot using different methods. Oh, and while you’re at it, keep a can or two in the pantry on standby at all times. You’ll need to use it a few times over the course of your dog’s life. Keep the unused portions covered and refrigerated. We keep ours in a Tupperware container in the fridge.
Today’s Goal: Pickup a couple of cans of pure pumpkin and have it on standby in the pantry for when you need it.
UNIT 8.5: Naming Your Puppy. So, what’s it gonna be?! Don’t worry if you haven’t come up with one, yet. (It has taken me up to a puppy’s 12-week milestone for me to come up with a name.) For those who need a little guidance, here’s an article from AKC about teaching your dog his name. Bonus points if the dog’s name does NOT rhyme with the word “no.” For those of you with performance dogs, here’s an article about giving your dog a registered name. If you haven’t already, let us know what your puppy’s call name is, so we can submit the AKC paperwork.
Today’s Goal: Get your puppy to come to you when you call his name at least ten (10) times throughout the day.
UNIT 8.6: Training. Like socialization, this will be another vital and ongoing subject in the weeks and months to follow. In addition to giving your puppy a name, you’ll want to teach him a few commands that will be useful in your everyday relationship for the next 12-15 years. Start with the basics: come, sit, watch, down, stay, and wait. Don’t feel like you need to spend hours and hours training your puppy. Nobody’s got time for that!!! This week, training should be short little spurts, only 3-5 minutes a session, about 3-4 times a day. That’s it. Work on the recall (come), sit, and stay. Then expand your repertoire to the next few things you’ll want your puppy to learn. Treat using your dog’s existing kibble or dry food to prevent upset tummies.
Today’s Goal: Get your puppy to sit on command three (3) times throughout the day.
UNIT 8.7: Crating. Crating is an invaluable skillset and we swear by it for our own crew. And fun fact, your puppy has been sleeping in one since he was six weeks old. Over the years, we’ve used them all. Plastic ones, wire ones, fabric ones. These days, our plastic crates are all manufactured by Ruffland Kennels and our wire crates are typically from Midwest. We love them both for different reasons. Hopefully, you’re already familiar with the concept of crate training and you’re already implementing it for your puppy. For the uninitiated, here are a few articles on the subject. Get to it!
- The Value of Crate Training
- Seven Reasons to Crate Train Your Weimaraner
- A Beginner’s Guide to Crate Training Part I
- (We’ll get around to writing Part II someday)
Today’s Goal: Get your puppy to nap in his crate during the day with the door closed.
You’ve made it through the first week together!! Hopefully, everyone’s able to sleep overnight and potty accidents are minimal. How’s it going so far? What’s working and what’s not working? In this second week with your new puppy, we’ll go over some tips to help your new routine together.
UNIT 9.1: Check-In. If you haven’t already, let me know what your puppy’s name is. This will help me determine what the registered name is going to be so I can get the AKC paperwork submitted. Please also send me a quick message to let me know how things are going. If there are any questions you have about training or troubleshooting, or anything else, give me a call!
Today’s Goal: Email Kim with a quick puppy update.
UNIT 9.2: Housebreaking. Puppies don’t come out of the box understanding where it’s appropriate to potty and where it’s not. It will be your job as his new owner to provide that understanding. So how have the last few days been going?! If you’re successful with potty training, great! If you’re not, it’s likely you’re not giving your puppy enough opportunities to go outside. Remember to lead your puppy immediately outside after every nap and set a timer to go off every 20 minutes that your puppy is awake. If you’re successful at 20 minutes, bump it up to 25 minutes, then to 30 minutes, and so on.
Today’s Goal: Aim for an accident-free streak of 24 hours.
UNIT 9.3: Flea, Tick and Heartworm Prevention. Barrett Weimaraners are not treated with flea, tick or heartworm preventative medication before they go home. Please check with your veterinarian if you are unsure whether or not fleas, ticks, and heartworm are prevalent in your area and preventatively treat as needed. Seresto Collars are great for flea and tick prevention, and Heartgard (available with a prescription from your veterinarian) works well for heartworm prevention. Please do not use Comfortis or Trifexis (spinosad) or Bravecto, Nexgard, Credelio (lotilaner), or Simparica (isoxazoline) as a flea and tick preventative as that has been linked to neurological disorders (including tremors and seizures) in dogs related to Barrett Weimaraners. This can be purchased in-store at Petsmart, Petco, Target, Walmart, or Tractor Supply, or online at any dog supply retailer (Chewy, Amazon, etc.).
Today’s Goal: Check your puppy over for fleas and treat as needed.
UNIT 9.4: Socialization. At Week 9, puppies are little sponges and ready to soak in new experiences. You still have a handful of weekends left before the current development stage ends and the next one begins. Please get your puppy out into safe situations (NOT a dog park) to log some “good experiences.” Positive encounters with strangers, both people (adults and kids) and dogs (big and small), will make a long-lasting impression on your puppy, so do as much of this as time allows. Things we like to do at this age is: put the puppy on a blanket in a shopping cart and roll her around Home Depot, Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other garden/nurseries. Even putting your puppy on the ground and getting some leash training in at the garden center at Lowe’s or Home Depot is a great idea, because they water plants there a few times a day so the cement floor is constantly getting hosed off. It’s a low-risk area.
Today’s Goal: Schedule a 30-minute trip to the Lowe’s or Home Depot Garden Center sometime this week.
UNIT 9.5: Alone Time. With the excitement of bringing a new puppy home, many families will take a few days off of work to help their puppy acclimate. That’s great! But it’s not realistic to be with your puppy 24 hours a day. I, for example, work outside of the home. I like going out to dinner with my husband. I have to get grocery shopping done at least twice a week. I’ll bet that many of you do, too! So, please be sure to weave alone time into your puppy’s day. Just a few minutes here and there. Go get the mail. Weed your garden. Tinker in the garage. Intentionally come in and out of the house without making a fuss or acknowledge your puppy so she realizes that this is just part of the routine.
Today’s Goal: Sneak away from where your puppy is for three (3) minutes.
UNIT 9.6: Routine. One of the best ways to succeed with puppy training is to set a routine. At minimum, this should start with a (supervised) morning potty as soon as your puppy wakes up for the day. In other words, follow your puppy outside and lead her to where you want her to potty. Tell her what a good girl she is for pottying outside. Then, come back in to start your day together. At some point, do a short training session with your puppy. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you’re doing something together. Then feed her. Give her some play time. Get her good and tired. Then put her up in a crate for a nap. Repeat this routine a few times so that throughout the day, your puppy gets multiple cycles of potty, training, play, exercise, and nap. And remember, a tired puppy is a good puppy.
Today’s Goal: Set up a routine for tomorrow and think ahead about what training commands you want to work on, and what you’ll do together for mental and physical exercise (e.g. learning a new trick, fetch, leash walking, etc.).
UNIT 9.7: Pet Insurance. Submission of AKC paperwork starts a temporary (30-day pet insurance policy). During this time, think about getting your puppy covered under Trupanion, Healthy Paws, or some other provider. We have policies with both Trupanion and Healthy Paws and would recommend both. Some Barrett puppy owners have also reported success with Nationwide. Note: Healthy Paws requires a 15 day waiting period before coverage goes into effect, so if you’re thinking about getting a plan, please commit soon.
Today’s Goal: Do some research on pet insurance and decide now if that’s something you’ll want to consider. The longer you wait, the higher the premiums get.
UNIT 10.1: Nipping and Biting. Got a puppy who keeps trying to mouth and bite you?! Welcome to the pack. Puppies spend the first two months of their lives playing with their littermates. Normal play behavior includes biting, mouthing, pulling skin, and football-style tackling. When the play gets a little out of hand, puppies correct each other with a loud yip, and then walk away. The offending puppy learns real fast that if he goes too far, play time ends. And because puppies don’t like it when fun things end, they’ll remember to cool it the next time they find someone to play with.
Now that your puppy is part of your pack, he’s treating you the only way he knows how. It’s not mean or spiteful. Just teach him other ways to use his mouth. There are lots of training articles on how to stop a puppy from biting. You may also redirect his behavior by teaching him how to target the palm of your hand with his nose so the next time he’s thinking about coming at you to nibble you, he instead noses you for a reward. Please reach out if you have a specific nipping or mouthing concern you need help with.
Today’s Goal: Redirect a mouthing behavior with a toy or chewy stick three (3) times, or teach your puppy how to target with his nose.
UNIT 10.3: Vaccinations and Socialization. If you’ve been doing some Google sleuthing about socialization, you’ll see that on one extreme folks will tell you to keep your puppy LOCKED DOWN AT THE HOUSE until after you get through the second rounds of shots and on the other extreme you’ll read about breeders telling their puppy people to get out there and see the world as soon as you can. So what’s our take?
Get your puppies out there and see the world as soon as you can. We encourage this because at 10 weeks, your puppy now has a very narrow window of how much longer he’ll be able to soak-in new experiences and accept them as positive experiences before he moves on to another development phase in his life where he’s suspicious of new things (and in this phase, it’s not wise to socialize a puppy).As long as you’re staying out of high-traffic dog areas (like dog parks), there’s a very low probability that your puppy would be infected with Canine distemper or Parvo. The drawback to keeping your puppy at home is that when he grows up, there will more work required to fix some behaviors that might develop (due to lack of exposure to these elements when he was younger), including but not inclusive to leash pulling, being reactive with other dogs while on and/or off leash, barking at people who walk by, and not adjusting well to new people and new environments. Take a look at your socialization checklist and step it up a notch if you haven’t found the time to take your puppy out of the house very much.
Today’s Goal: Plan to bring your puppy with you somewhere off your property in the next three (3) days.
UNIT 10.5: Loose Leash Walking. This is the age where your puppy has very strong natural following instincts. Use this to your advantage by teaching him how to appropriately walk on a leash. This will make the next few weeks of intense socialization and exposure much easier to navigate. Click here to read about how to introduce your Weimaraner puppy to loose leash walking.
Today’s Goal: Walk your puppy on a leash for at least 20 feet without pulling.
UNIT 11.1: Put Your Things Away. One of the greatest traits about puppies is that they’re inquisitive about life. Always searching, always exploring, and always experimenting. Without human intervention, they haven’t a clue what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate. So – Whose fault is it when your puppy chews up the dress shoe, houseplant, or reading glasses?
The answer is… yours. If you’ve discovered in the last week or two that your puppy has been stealing and destroying your personal belongings, think again about how the circumstance came to be, and if it’s an issue (I still cry when I think about the time that a puppy ate my Prada wedding shoes, and that was almost 10 years ago), figure out ways to eliminate the occurrence from happening again.
- Are the personal items in reach? Easy fix! Put them out of reach. 🙂
- Is the puppy climbing furniture to get to things he shouldn’t have access to? Another easy fix. He shouldn’t have access to that room while you’re not in there with him. [See also: puppies need constant supervision.] Put a baby gate or exercise pen up to minimize your puppy’s “areas of free access” and make sure there’s nothing ‘of value’ in those spaces.
If you catch your puppy stealing your item, this is where a strongly reinforced leave it command becomes valuable. Give your puppy the command, and then give him something he’s supposed to have, like a stuffy or a chew toy. NEVER yank the item out of your puppy’s mouth and verbally scold him for what he just did.
Didn’t catch him in the act? Take it as a lesson learned for yourself and be more diligent about putting things away. NEVER scold him after the fact because he will have no idea what you’re upset about.
Today’s Goal: Make it 24 hours in a row without having to tell your puppy to “drop something” he’s not supposed to have, from his mouth. Extra credit: Teach him the command drop it.
UNIT 11.4: Designated Potty Areas. Many people ask us about how to teach a puppy to potty in a designated area. This is indeed possible, but there is unfortunately no “quick and easy” way to do it. If this is something that’s important to you (so your dog doesn’t pee and poop all over your lawn), start by putting the puppy on a leash and leading her to where she’s supposed to go. Make sure that every time she pees, it’s in that spot. As the area becomes inundated with her scent, she’ll be conditioned to keep using the same spot. You may also leave a poop sample or two in that location so your puppy understands this is an appropriate place to potty. For bonus points, pair this with a verbal cue, like “go potty.” And reward her for doing the right thing. Speaking from experience, we can tell you that teaching a dog to potty on command is an insanely valuable tool.
UNIT 8.6: Poops. Puppies poop. A lot. Like a lot A LOT, as Ruth and Darryl learned this year with their Ruby puppy. 🙂 It’s normal because puppies are eating a lot of food relative to size. There’s so much of it that most people scratch their heads as to where it could be coming from. Seriously, how is it possible that so much poop can come out of a puppy that’s so dang little?! But don’t worry – As puppies grow older, they won’t need to poop as often. Speaking of poops…
PUPPY TO PUPPY SOCIALIZATION. It is imperative that your puppy’s experiences with other dogs are positive and not negative. Start with a 1:1 meeting. Best ways to do this is to introduce two similar aged and similar sized puppies in an enclosed area (like a backyard) and encourage them to play, wrestle, chase, etc. Bonus points for a dog that looks similar to yours (GSP, Vizsla, Dane, Doberman, etc.). Over time, add new experiences, like dogs of different sizes, dogs with different coat types, dogs of various ages.