Thoughts on Getting a New Puppy

January 30, 2014


Well, friends, we’ve had Miss Pippa for a little over a month and a half, so I figured it was high time to put a post together on thoughts about getting a second dog. This was the first puppy Joe and I have trained (we got Nutmeg from my parents as a perfectly behaved 3-year-old dog) so we were a little nervous to say the least. The fact that both of us have full-time jobs that require us to be gone much of the day added another layer of complexity.

Going into this experience I anticipated puppy training to be a lot of work, and it was, but at the same time, it was much easier than I thought. We got Pippa from a responsible and reputable breeder who happened to live close to our house and only breeds Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. We got plenty of time to meet and interact with Pippa prior to taking her home with us at 12 weeks and had time to observe her with her litter mates before picking which puppy we wanted to be a part of our family.

Puppy_Bath_1{Little Miss Pippa getting her first bath at our house. Ha!}

We fell in love with Pippa’s calm demeanor and thoughtful personality right away. You could tell from the beginning that she was a thoughtful puppy, always pausing to think about things before acting. It’s proven to be an asset for us, since she was easy to potty train, bell train and learn commands like sit and down. However, it’s also proven difficult because she is smart enough to willfully disobey us or use things to her advantage.

A few things we did to get her off to a good start with training and obedience:

1. Potty Training: We focused on potty training first and foremost for obvious reasons. We made a point to always let Pippa out of the same door for consistency, and since it was snowy, Joe shoveled an area that looks like an arena in our yard for her to go potty in every time. The first week or two we really had to watch her and catch her before she went potty on the floor. As she got a few weeks older, she started to go to the door to tell us she had to go potty. The first week we were waking up in the middle of the night to let her go to the bathroom, but after about a week she was sleeping straight through the night. Thank goodness!

2. Bell Training: This is something we added into the mix a couple weeks ago. As Pippa got a little older, we felt comfortable letting her roam the house a little more. However, we started to notice that she had a few accidents right next to the door. She was sitting at the door, trying to tell us she had to go out, and we didn’t see her, which would lead to the accidents. Now that we have a little bell at nose height next to the door (secured with a command hook) she can tell us she needs to go out. It’s fantastic! However, I’ve found her using it to her advantage a lot lately. She will go ring the bell every time she wants to play outside. We haven’t figured out a solution to that problem yet.

PIppa_LivingroomTOur_13. Crate Training: We implemented the crate training from the start and I’m so happy we did! The first couple weeks were rough since Pippa didn’t want to spend the whole night in her crate and would whine when we put her in there for any extended period of time. But seeing as that we work, there really was not other solution during the day and at night it was critical to all of us getting a good night of sleep. We started to keep her crate in the living room during the day (near Nutmeg) so she could see what was going on and even left her crate out in the living room with the door open when we were home so she could get familiar and comfortable with her crate. Giving her treats and even feeding your puppy in their crate for a while are all good ways to make them love their crate, and at night we cover her crate with a light blanket to signal it’s “bed time.”

4. Obedience Class: We’ve been going to puppy obedience classes with Pippa once a week for the last few weeks. It’s a four week program and a great way to socialize your dog and learn how to train them and reinforce positive behavior while curbing any behavior you don’t like. Right now Pippa does sit very well and down pretty well. She is still learning “no jumping” and is getting better with “no biting” but it’s still a work in progress.

5. During the Day: We were SO blessed to find someone in the area who is letting Pippa out during the day when we are at work. Seriously, I don’t know what we would do without her. We connected through a mutual friend and it worked out for her to come during the weekdays to let Pippa out to go potty and play with her for 10 to 15 minutes over lunchtime. I tried running home every day for about 1 week before I realized it was totally not going to work to do this long term, especially with the winter weather, snow and meeting schedules. Pippa_3
I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how Nutmeg is doing, and the short answer is that she is adjusting super well! I was so nervous she was going to hate Pippa or never adjust to being in a two dog family. The first few weeks she just avoided Pippa all together, but Pippa won her over, like she wins everyone over, and now Nutmeg is good buds with Pipp. A few weeks ago they even started playing together. I never thought I would see the day! That said, Nutmeg isn’t afraid to let Pippa know when she has had her fill of puppy love (mainly Pippa chewing on Nutmeg’s ears) and needs her space.

Whew! What a long post. I wanted to get it all written down before Pippa is no longer a puppy and I forget what worked and what didn’t work. It’s been so much fun having Pippa around. Two dogs is certainly more work and sometimes I call us the “Hofmeyer Circus” but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


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  • Reply Katie Hall January 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I can’t wait to see her again! Training a puppy can be such a bonding experience for you and your spouse! It sounds like you are doing a great job šŸ™‚

  • Reply Justine January 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    She just so precious! I’m glad to hear Nutmeg is coming around šŸ™‚ The same thing happened when my in-laws adopted a Cavalier; at first their Wheaton Terrier hated her, but now they’re inseparable.

    We also trained my family dog to ring a bell when she needed to go out (so helpful for our house in Iowa, where we had to go down to the basement to put her in the backyard). So happy you guys are all adjusting well!

  • Reply Emily January 30, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    She’s so cute and glad to hear she’s doing well with Nutmeg! We bell trained our dog for the same reasons (I felt so bad that he was sitting at the door and we didn’t notice!). He also loved playing with the bell seeking attention or to go outside and play (not potty). Sometimes, if I knew he didn’t really have to go out, I’d hang the bell up where he couldn’t reach, but for the most part I let him out when he rang so he knew we still took it seriously – a hard balance though! We moved a few months after that and didn’t hang up the bell at our new house. As he’s gotten older and has to go out less it’s been easier. Good luck!

  • Reply Cindy Germann January 30, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    I love all these photos so much! I love having smart dogs but they definitely out-smart me on occasion. And they’re also guilty of asking to go out (constantly!) just so they can play. The fence was a life saver for us, but our dogs also love to explore the neighborhood without it.

  • Reply Katherine Kelly January 31, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I’m so glad it’s gone well for you. I’m definitely going to refer back to this post when we buy a puppy, since some of your ideas sound fantastic. Also. Pippa is so dang cute, I might just save this so I can look at it on a rainy day. šŸ™‚ xoxo

  • Reply Yassine Labouch February 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Cute puppy, yes actualy puppy training needs a lot of work, and needs time either, and if you can get another puppy or dog, go for it

  • Reply dan trainer February 7, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Sooo cute! Can’t wait to see the 2nd one. They better be into puppy training to improve their skills and behavior.

  • Reply Rachel February 7, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    She is seriously so adorable! Training can be a lot of work, but it also just makes sense and isn’t as hard as some people make it to be. I think some people just assume, oh it is a cute puppy and they will listen and do everything correct the first time, and no, it takes work and repetition šŸ™‚ We got our mini austrailian shepherd from a breeder near by who is super knowledgeable and she was already crate trained when we were able to take her home.

    She was fast to learn how to go to the bathroom and we thought about doing the bell thing, but she learned that jumping up on our laps and licking our faces multiple times plus yipping (she only barks or makes noises when she needs something) did the trick to get her outside! But HAHAHA dogs are too smart sometimes for their own good, sounds like Pippa is very much enjoying being taken outside when she wants to go out šŸ˜‰

    Sounds like you guys have done a great job socializing and training her so far and yay that Nutmeg is adjusting! I am worried if we ever get another puppy that Emma will be very jealous!

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