Many times when our pups head to their new homes, we receive lots of questions about how to handle certain behaviors. You are not alone if you encounter some stressful situations!
Here is my reply to a recent question about potty training and crying!
Nice to hear from you—First let me say that all you are worrying about is normal and you are doing a GREAT job!!! Don’t worry, it’s going to all work out, it usually takes about a week for a puppy to settle in totally with the new life they have!
Potty Accidents and not Using the Litter Box So as for your concerns, as I had mentioned, lots of new changes tend to stress a puppy out, and they are easily confused and will regress. It’s only been a couple days, so it’s pretty typical for him to still be adjusting. Remember, he is a fish out of water, so it takes time to adjust, yes it’s frustrating, but he will get the hang of it all. Make sure his pen is small, if it’s too big, he will be confused. Even here, we have setbacks, so usually every week, I need to remind the pups for a day, by making the pen smaller so there is literally only room for the litter box and the bed, that helps reset their mindset. Send me a picture so I can suggest what to do. If the setup is even slightly different than what he is used to he will be confused. We use newspaper in the box or pine pellets, so be sure to use something familiar. He is not used to going outside or being locked in a crate, so that is why we recommend sticking to the same schedule we are doing (pen and litter box) for the first couple weeks at home, so they transition is easier. At this point in our setup, we had a crate with the door off. They can go in and out at will, but I do not close it on them. By rule of thumb, I tell everyone wait till 12 weeks to start the outdoor/crate training, as they are still babies and really don’t know what they are doing yet. Also, puppies don't really realize they are peeing, until they start going. They just have no control over this at this age. So much of this is age and maturity. One thing to keep in mind, when you start going outside, you have to stay out there till he actually goes potty. You will need to read my 2 week training program about this, because there are lots of things you can be doing that send mixed messages, and it will totally confuse a puppy. For one, when you take them to potty, you should not be mixing play and potty. (this is also mentioned in detail in my hand out in the back office) I recommend making potty and play totally separate, so they know there is a job to do, and what is expected of them. When I take them out, I do not even fiddle with my phone. I stand there and wait for them to go. They can confuse our body language and think they need that to be part of the routine. So if they happened to go potty and you were playing with your phone at the same time, they could mistake this for a queue and think that needs to be part of the routine. We don't want that. So we simplify!!! If after ten minutes or so they do not go, I carry them in, sit on my lap, and wait a few minutes and then carry them back out to go. keep doing it till they actually go! Then praise and treat, and back in the house. Take off the leash and then say “Let’s go play” leash back on and out for play. This compartmentalizes the activities, and THIS step is crucial for the puppy to understand there is POTTY time and PLAY time. If you go out and let them run and play, they forget to potty, and then end up coming back in the house and remember they have to potty, and on the floor they go. Also, if he is pottying in the crate, it is simply too soon to close the door. Many times when they go in the crate, it tells us that perhaps they are being scolded for accidents. Dogs will not understand being scolded for relieving themselves, and instead they think we are crazy people that are yelling at them for going potty. So instead of understanding you don’t want them to go where they are going (or whatever the cause for the scolding) they just simply learn to never potty in your presence and will go where they can do so unseen. (crate or corner). When we get reports of this happening, it's always a tell-tale sign that the dog has been scolded by the owner, :) All of this is why we like to transition slowly. I find that the age of 12 weeks is the magical age when they are matured mentally (and have received the second set of vaccinations) so they are ready for the big transition to outdoor potty!
Crying at Night or Separation Anxiety It’s normal for them to cry when you leave them. But like I said, you really need to ignore it--- put on some earplugs if needed :). One night of cold turkey is usually all it takes. I usually have one pup left behind from every litter, and a couple sleepless nights is to be expected. I’ve been doing it for so many years, and I've learned to just ignore it. They can be so loud but trust me, they all do this. How long it lasts depends in how well you are able to ignore this. Don’t stay by the crate, that will just enable him and encourage this behavior. You need to leave the room and walk away. You can walk in the room and calmly walk around, do not make eye contact. Let him see you are there, and he is safe. Walk away. Watch Doggy Dan’s video about this, as it really goes into detail about how to handle this behavior, and he will demonstrate this technique, as well. We had a family that picked up their puppy recently, and we conquered this in literally 10 minutes at the car. She had just finished a marathon viewing of Doggy Dan and she was ready to test it out! So she showed up with the pen in the back of her SUV, ready to go! We put in Hank, and he screamed bloody murder. She said let’s ignore the puppy. We did the Doggy Dan method of no eye contact and staying calm, letting Hank see us but not talking to him. The moment he stopped crying, we picked him up and treated him. Put him back. He screamed again, and we ignored him till he stopped. and again, that second, we picked the pup up. After about 5 times, he figured out that he was safe and all was well, AND that quiet behavior is how to get attention. This is NORMAL for puppies. In the wild, they scream to let mamma know where they are. So we are trying to essentially train them to do something that is not instinct. We are training them how to use their voice in an appropriate way, It’s called manding, which is to ask for something in a way that we want. I suggest using the clicker and treats. Make a session training out of it. Perhaps hide behind a corner, and every time he cries come out and say SHHHH. and go back behind the corner. The second he is quiet grab him. click and treat. I work with them for about three minute sessions at this age. A little session will make a big difference. But try to understand that he is a baby, and this is NORMAL. There is nothing wrong, he is safe, and he is just wanting to know you are there. It's a big change for a little one, so we just have to be patient and loving and they will be just fine!