My first week with a Bernedoodle puppy is in the books, and wow, I had forgotten how hard life becomes with a young puppy. Let’s just say there was a lot of crying, and not just from the puppy, but a bit of smiling as well. So that’s progress.
This is not our first dog, we had a Newfypoo that we had to say goodbye to at the end of 2018, so you would think that I might have been fully prepared for the first week or two of having a puppy in the house.
But you would be wrong. Because I had forgotten how hard it was. And that is why I am writing it down this time around, so that next time I start thinking of how relatively easy it was to train my puppy, I can remind myself of exactly what took place with this cute little Bernedoodle.
Day 1 – When it came time to pick up my puppy, I had a tough choice to make. I could pick him up on a Thursday, which would mean that both my college age children would be home through the weekend, along with a visiting aunt. Or, I could wait until the following Monday and bring our Bernedoodle home to a much emptier house with just my wife and myself home.
I chose to pick him up on Thursday. Looking back, maybe not the best choice as far as a smooth transition goes. But then again, I sure made a few people really happy as they got to meet Auggie for at least a few days before heading out.
I arrived at the Bernedoodle breeder’s house around noon and prepared myself for the three hour drive back home to Houston, fully aware that I was bound to hear quite a bit of whining and howling.
And I did, but after about 30-45 minutes of whimpering he settled down a bit and just hung out. After two hours in the car, I decide to take a quick potty break, to give him a chance to relieve himself as I really really wanted to avoid having an accident in my car. Good call on my part. We found an empty gas station where we could run around a little bit, and pee on the ground. Him, not me.
Once we got back home, I passed him around, let everyone say hello, and tried to start getting him on our schedule, with dinner at 5:30 and bedtime at 9:00. But I did a poor job taking him outside frequently enough that first afternoon, with all of the excitement of a new home, and he peed in the house. Twice.
So not a great start, that’s on me, I should have been taking him out more often. And then bedtime came… oof. Tough night, no way around it. I started out in my bedroom with his crate next to the bed, so that he could hear and see me to try and settle him down. No dice. Crying. And Howling. A lot.
Since my wife had to work in the morning, I decided to take my little Bernedoodle puppy downstairs, along with his crate and sleep on a floor with no bedrooms to give everyone else the best possible chance of sleeping. Me? Not so much. Auggie and I were up most of the night.
Every time I took him out to pee during the night, he would just lay down on the grass and look at me, with zero understanding of what he was expected to do. Which meant that I had to take him out really often, to make sure he didn’t pee in his crate overnight. And he didn’t. Let’s count that as a victory. Please.
Day 2 – I’d say I woke up optimistic and ready for a great day with our puppy, but without having really slept, there wasn’t much waking up to do. But I was still optimistic and ready to go. First up was an early appointment with our vet to get Auggie checked out and maybe even receive some vaccinations to get him up to date.
The appointment was uneventful and routine, our little Bernedoodle was in good health and got good grades from the doctor. 17 pounds, nice.
We got back home and I walked him around our courtyard, since we aren’t allowed out in the wild neighborhood until he has all of his shots, and gave him time to pee and poo. He peed, and since he had already pooped that morning, which I took to the vet’s office as a gift, I figured he was in good shape to be crated for about an hour while my daughter and I ran a few errands.
Wrong. Ugh. Auggie pooped in his crate. Again, my fault, obviously, he’s a dog, I’m the owner, it’s always my fault, by definition.
I hadn’t taken into consideration the excitement and stress of a new home, leaving mom and siblings and then an hour long vet examination. My guess is all of that was just too much and his digestive system was not on any kind of real schedule yet, and well… yeah, he pooped in the crate.
So Auggie got his first bath on Day 2!
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, outside of the puppy routine of watching him nap frequently, taking him outside frequently and trying to get him on a normal feeding schedule.
And then bedtime came. Scary times, no idea what’s in store for us. We decide to pick up his whole crate, and place it up on our bed, so that we could sooth him as best we could during the night.
Better. Not great, just better. He did a lot of flopping around and moaning and groaning. He definitely wasn’t happy, but not as loud and grumpy as the night before, so heading in the right direction.
Day 3 – I think this is when I finally started to get my legs under me and really get into puppy mode so that I could meet our little guy where he was and help him get used to life in our house.
We have a courtyard in front of our house that I’m fairly sure has not been spoiled by sick or unvaccinated dogs, so theoretically should be safe for us, and we started to spend just a little bit more time running and chasing each other, to help tire him out, which in turn would help him settle down inside.
I also got very strict with myself and every time I took our Bernedoodle out of his crate, we went outside for a potty break. And every time, before going back into the crate, we went outside for a potty break. Tedious? Yes. Worthwhile? Yes.
I decided to wait until our house emptied out before starting to really work on learning general manners, such as sit and down, and instead focus on getting settled on an eating schedule, and ideally an elimination and sleeping schedule as well.
The third night was pretty similar to the previous night, in that we got a little bit of sleep, surrounded by a lot of whining and flopping around, with the puppy and crate up on our bed. Not ideal, I know, but with guests in the house, we were trying our best to let other people get as much sleep as possible,
We also knew that the following night, my wife and I would have the house to ourselves, and our Bernedoodle, and we could really buckle down and try to help Auggie learn how to sleep through the night. In a crate.
Days 4-7 – Woohoo, the turning point! Over the weekend, my wife had commented that the travel crate we had been using seemed to small for our puppy, even though it was rated for a much heavier dog than we had in our possession.
So we decide to try him out in a wire crate, significantly larger than the plastic enclosed travel crate he had been sleeping in.
The first night we put him to bed in that new crate he slept so well, that I had to wake him up to take him out my pre-determined times of 1:00 am and 4:00 am.
By the next night, we decided to try and lengthen it out a bit and see if we couldn’t get away with taking him out to pee only once a night, going to bed around 9:00 or 9:30, getting up at 2:00 am to pee and then up for the day at 6:30. And it worked!
Every night since then we have followed the same pattern. Now our big question is when do we try to push him back one more hour on our way to sleeping through the night? He hasn’t whined to get out in the middle of the night yet, with our new sleeping arrangement, so it seems that maybe he’s ready to stretch it a bit longer. Fingers crossed.
Also in the second half of our bernedoodle’s puppy first week home we decided to start training him on some of the standard behaviors. I’m not ready to say that he is a super smart pup or that he is totally trained, but it does look like he has the beginnings of a pretty decent “sit”, the beginnings of “down”, an inconsistent “stay” and a pretty good “come”, as long as I have some tasty treats in hand!
Not that everything is coming up roses or that we are out of the woods, we still have lots and lots of work ahead of us. Twice this week, somewhere around Days 4 or 5, my wife and I each had an incident where we weren’t as watchful with our bernedoodle as we should have been… and he peed!
It takes very little time, it’s almost impressive, if it wasn’t so dispiriting.
So overall, I have to give Auggie pretty good marks as far as being a cute puppy goes. I’ll give myself a C or D in remembering how tough the first week is, but maybe an A or B in rebounding and getting back on track. Probably a B, I did slip up those couple of times and let him out of my sight when I should have know better.
I’ll do better next week.
Much better, but still much harder than I had remembered. Sleep is pretty inconsistent at this point, going out for last potty call at 9:00 or a little before and then potty call around 2:00 and hoping for a morning wake up at 6:30. Roughly. Very roughly.
Feeding is very solid at a light cup of food three times a day, 7:00, noon and 5:00 pm. Still no pooping inside the house, outside of that first accident on Day #2, but a whole lot of peeing, mostly outside, but he still snuck a few inside accidents in through this second week.
New strategy is everytime he comes out of the crate, outside for potty break. After every nap, outside for potty break. Before every crate session, outside for potty break. Before any visitors come by, outside for potty break. Seems to be working pretty well so far.
This week started off with a trip to the Vet’s for a few more vaccinations and a weigh-in – 22 pounds, he gained 5 pounds in his first two weeks with us, wow!
Potty situation has remained steady, which means when I am diligent and take him out frequently, he doesn’t have any accidents. When I become careless or lazy and try to give him a little freedom, the possibility of an accident becomes very high, as in twice this week. Bummer.
Feeding is still solid, he likes to eat. He goes through his cup of food very quickly with each and every opportunity, so I have started making him play games or solve puzzles to get his food. Both to slow him down and to work his brain a bit.
Training is really starting to progress well. He is old enough now that he is enrolled in a puppy class, and he is very social and loves to work for food, a great combination. He sits quite well, waits on command and is working a reliable down. He’s doing well for a puppy, I am not saying he is almost fully trained.