The First Week Home
Three words are the key to making it through the first week with your pup — and the rest of your dog's life: Schedule, schedule, schedule. Just as you did the first day, you need to stay focused and keep your pup on the schedule you established to the very best of your ability. Will there be distractions and will you stray? Of course. Recognize these digressions as errors and get back on track as soon as you can.
Be sure you take your pup on many trips outside to a designated potty spot so he can learn that this is where you want him to go, and that you can be counted on to take him outside when he needs to go.
Because you want your puppy to settle into a routine in your house-hold, this should involve her being able to cope with you or your family's absence. This doesn't mean you can all leave for school and the office and keep your puppy confined alone to a crate or the kitchen for eight hours or more. Would you do this with a human baby? Certainly not. So why would you consider doing it to your puppy?
Fortunately for you, a puppy is not a baby, and you have a lot more leeway. You could consider doing half days at work the first week. Leaving your pup alone for about four hours at a stretch is reasonable. Not longer than that, and only once you have made sure that her environment is safe and that she has an appropriate chew toy with which to occupy herself.
If all you have to give to your new pup is a weekend before you have to get back to work, then you must get help. You need to hire someone trustworthy and reliable to come in and check on your puppy several times a day for the first few weeks and then, as she gets older, at least once a day.
Your veterinarian or breeder can probably recommend a dog-walking service. You can also research local services yourself, though it's always better to have a recommendation. Meet in advance with the person you select to care for your pup so you're comfortable with each other. Exchange all the necessary emergency contact information, including your veterinarian's phone number. Ask the person to visit when you bring home the puppy so they can meet and you can review the schedule together. You want to limit surprises all around.
Don't allow bedtime to be pushed later and later for your pup. Don't get off the feeding regimen. Make sure to get your puppy out often and reinforce proper housetraining (see Chapter 10). And be sure your pup gets enough sleep during the day.
If you're the one staying home, begin preparing your pup for what lies ahead when you do return to your normal schedule. Use this week to find a dog walker, since you will definitely need one if your pup is to spend any long hours at home. Start expanding the range of your walks. Take your pup for the first veterinary visit. Do some very basic training of Sit. Consider getting a crate and training your girl to use and enjoy it. And most important — stick to your schedule!