Meet Sprocket – the newest member of our family. He’s a 7 month old Terrier cross (We’re not sure what’s in the mix!) adopted puppy from Melbourne’s The Lost Dogs’ Home. Follow along as I share his and my story as a new dog owner learning how to raise a healthy and happy little dog. I’ll also be doing regular updates on JOY 94.9’s Pets-A-Loud about my experiences and what I learn along the way.
The moment one of the staff at The Lost Dogs’ Home introduced me to and handed me Sprocket’s lead the cheeky little boy rolled straight onto his back for a scratch and a belly rub.
It didn’t take long to decide that he was the puppy for us. Of course Kevin and I already live with Cynder – so she came along with us to the home to meet him too and see how they got along. It was quite a nervous moment wondering if these two would get along, but after a bit of hesitation it didn’t take too long for Cynder and Sprocket to become friendly. In fact…a little too friendly with Sprocket taking a particular liking to putting his nose right into Cynder’s “underside”.
After sorting out paperwork and logistics with the home and getting some supplies Sprocket was in the car with Cynder ready to come home.
Sprocket settled into home pretty well, but getting started we had a few priorities to sort out:
Bed time – Cynder sleeps in the laundry so our first priority was to get Sprocket used to his new shared sleeping quarters. For the first few nights he barked for about 10-15 minutes after being put to bed, but thankfully this didn’t last too long and he settled into his new routine.
Toilet training – There’s no way of knowing Sprocket’s previous training so figuring this out was a case of trial and error. I learned that with toilet training it is absolutely vital to catch the puppy in the act or otherwise they will have no idea what they’ve done wrong and to reward them when they display the right behaviour (going to the toilet outside). This meant keeping a VERY close eye on Sprocket whilst in the house. Despite a few accidents here and there he picked up toilet training fairly quickly (it’s possible he had already been trained before he found himself on the streets) and we’ve made sure to give him regular toilet breaks and time outside.
Food – When he got home Sprocket was very timid with his food and for the first few days would only eat from our hands. Over time we managed to teach him to get over this dependency and eat food independently from his bowl. This involved a lot of encouragement and positive reinforcement, but now he can’t wait for dinner time! (An even tries to sneak food from Cynder’s bowl!)
Manners – Sprocket is a VERY cheeky little boy and an intelligent little dog. This has made some basic manners training fairly easy so far, but he certainly has a personality! So far training has included teaching him the boundaries of play (a puppy-like squeal and disruption/halt to play time whenever he bites or gets too rough – bite inhibition), teaching him to sit and the early stages of teaching eye contact and attentiveness. This has been done with a mix of treats and a dog training clicker.
The next steps
Sprocket has just received his latest vaccination which means soon we’ll be able to start taking him for walks, socialising him with other dogs and starting formal training classes. I’m looking forward to learning these skills and helping Sprocket to become a healthy, happy and well trained puppy. He’s got a wonderful personality and has fitted into our household so well. I’m particularly looking forward to taking him on his first trip to the beach and teaching him some cool tricks!
Have you raised dogs? What are your tips for getting a new puppy/dog settled in? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments or at @JB_AU on Twitter.