New Christmas Puppy? Read this!….

Were you surprised during Christmas with a new little furball?  Maybe you’ve been waiting for the latest “doodle” or “poo” puppy?  I get asked at least twice a week how to prepare for a puppy, but usually it’s, “Cindy, HELP!  My puppy is out of control and if you don’t help then my husband/wife/dad/mom says I have to get rid of it!”

Well friends, help has arrived! I’ve put together a must-have list to help ease the stress of this wonderful (and crazy) time!

Picking a Crate

First thing we are going to need is a wire crate.  It’s important the crate be wire like this one because our puppy needs to be able to see us, smell us, and feel the air move around him.  These crates break down in a jiffy and are a snap to take with us.  Check out Chewy (Here) for the best prices out there.  Avoid getting the plastic travel crates because they feel more like a dungeon to the puppy and you are apt to get a lot more whining and crying when they can’t see you except for the little slits in the side.

Let’s talk about what size to get. If you have a labrador puppy, for example, you don’t want to buy a small crate that fits the puppy perfectly because it will outgrow it within a month! Instead, be sure and get one as big as your puppy will be when e/she is a full-grown adult. Be sure that it comes with a wire divider, which can be adjusted as the puppy grows. The area inside the crate (where the puppy will be) needs to be big enough that they can stand up, stretch, turn around, and lie back down. There are comfortable mats that fit inside the crate but you can also use some old towels or blanket as well.

A puppy will NEVER potty where it sleeps, unless: 1) the crate is too big and they can scoot away and pee or poop in the corner, or, 2) we leave the puppy too long and they can’t hold it.

So, how long can a puppy hold his bladder while in a crate? The rule of thumb is 1 hour plus their age (in months). For example, an 8-week (2-month-old) puppy can hold their bladder for about 3 hours, a 3-month-old would be 4 hours, and so on.


Now we need a playpen. The reason for this is if we are working all day, we can’t expect a little puppy to be able to hold it all day, plus we want them to be able to move around in a safe environment where they won’t get into trouble and where you won’t be coming home to any surprises.

I like the one’s like the illustration (right) that has an opening. You can open the door of the crate and butt it up against the outside of the playpen so the puppy has a nice area to play in. Some clients prefer to have the crate inside the playpen, which is fine too. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are plastic ones and wire ones. You can get 24″ tall or 36″ for bigger puppies. The panels are typically 2′ and you can purchase additional panels, if necessary.

Setting Up

Now we need to decide where to set up the puppy’s area.  We want a happy and well-adjusted puppy and in order to have that, we need to keep the playpen and crate in an area where WE hang out.  Kitchens or dining rooms are good places because we typically have tile, vinyl, or hardwood floors, which can be easily cleaned when there are accidents.  Please DON’T put your puppy’s playpen and crate in the basement, laundry room, or empty bedroom where they will be alone.  You’re bound to have a puppy who will grow up to have severe separation anxiety.  It’s important that he/she be socialized with people coming and going from your home.  They need to see you leave and come home <u>often</u> so they learn that you always come back and, therefore, they can sleep, play, and hang out until you do.

Potty Training

If you are gone all day, the playpen needs to have a place for the puppy to potty. I was never a fan of piddle pads because my puppies just tore them up. Some clients are successful with the pads as long as they have a pad holder (on the right). With my labradoodle, Ollie, I discovered “wee wee patches” (left) that have artificial grass with a pan underneath to catch the urine. It’s helpful for potty training when you get home and take the puppy outside because they’ve already been using “grass”.


Lastly, you’ll want a water dish. The mountable water dish (shown) is a MUST unless you want to come home with a puppy pad half in and half out of the water dish and water splashed everywhere! Been there, done that! 🙂

Word of Caution: Stay away from anything “rawhide”, i.e., sticks/rolls/bones when you aren’t there because many a puppy has choked on them.  They are fine if you are there to supervise and puppies LOVE them.  Nylabones (below) are a safe option. When you purchase rawhide chews, it’s a good idea to pay a little more for the ones “Made in the US”.  Otherwise the rawhide is very thin and comes from rendering plants in China and Brazil where they have been treated with chemicals.

Here are some options: The Kong (far right) is great because you can buy filling that squirts inside or stuff it with peanut butter and freeze it for hours of entertainment!  Make sure the peanut butter doesn’t have Xylitol, which is a sweetener, in it because it can be deadly.  Most peanut butter doesn’t have it though.  I always use Jiffy.

So, my friends, there you have it.  (If Santa is bringing a puppy then NOW is the time to prepare!)  This setup will keep your puppy safe and happy while you are away.  Mostly, you won’t come home to find the puppy has peed/pooped all over the house and chewed on furniture and plants and whatever else it can reach.  This way you come home to the house the way you left it and a sweet little puppy who’s missed you terribly.

Until next time….~Cindy

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