- Driving your Dachshund home
- Delivering the grand tour
- Getting through the first night
- Establishing your new routine the next day
- Finding a vet for your Dachsie
You have the den. You have the food. You have the chew toys. And now, much to your joy, you have the Dachshund. Yikes! Suddenly, the responsibility hits you: You have a dog. Now you get to take him home and begin your new life — your Dachshund-full life. And you feel like you aren’t even sure how to make it home with that tiny, dependent puppy in your vehicle. Don’t worry. This chapter talks you through your first day with your Dachsie, step by step. In a few short days, you’ll be feeling like a pro.
The first few weeks with a new puppy can be pretty challenging, and you may sometimes wish you hadn’t signed on for this job! But keep your eye on the prize. When you and your Dachshund finally work out the rules and understand each other, life will suddenly become sweet. You’ll wonder what you ever worried about. “I have such a good dog,” you’ll tell your friends. But first, you have to get through the first day. The chapters of Part III dig deep into the topic of training, so head there after you get through the first day!
Taking the First Ride Home
Of course you want to cuddle your new puppy all the way home, but try to refrain. First of all, cute as he is and as much as you want to hold and cuddle him, he needs to be restrained safely in your car. You’d restrain your infant when bringing him home from the hospital, wouldn’t you? Besides, in some states, the law says that you must.
Most states, however, don’t require your dog to be restrained just yet. You can make it a family rule, though, and everyone will be safer if you do.
The two main types of pet restraints are harness seatbelts that attach to the car’s seatbelts — with or without tethers that attach to the harness — and pet carriers with slots so car seatbelts can hold them securely in place. Pet carriers probably are best for brand-new puppies, because they may feel more secure to a nervous Dachshund. But either type is safe. (Pet carriers also are good for older Dachshunds that tend to chew destructively. Don’t think they aren’t capable of chewing up the seats while you’re concentrating on the road!)
If you get in a traffic accident, you probably won’t be able to hold on to your dog. He can be thrown around inside the vehicle, injuring or killing himself or other passengers. Plus, your dog can serve as a major distraction, possibly causing you to get in a traffic accident.
Nobody thinks they’ll get into an accident, of course. Unfortunately, many people do. Knowing that, I can’t think of a single argument not to buckle up your Dachsie — especially because dog seatbelts and pet carriers are so widely available and inexpensive.
According to a 2004 American Animal Hospital Association pet owner survey, 67 percent of pet owners say they travel with their pets, and 37 percent sometimes bring their pets to work with them. Buckle up, everyone!
Welcoming Your Dachshund Home
When you arrive safely at home, a real welcome is in order! Life has just changed dramatically for both your family and that little dog in your arms, so go ahead and make a bit of a fuss. You don’t want to overwhelm your new dog, of course, but you do want to show him around, acquaint him with his new turf, and do what you can to let him know that he’s in a loving and safe environment with your family. The following sections help you pull out the welcome wagon.
Puppies, like babies, are relatively simple creatures. They need sleep, food, water, love, and guidance. As long as you provide these five things on the first day (and for the rest of your puppy’s life, although later his needs will expand), you’re on the right track.
Giving the grand tour
First on your welcome-home list is the grand tour. This event is for you and your new pet, helping you to realize and acknowledge the changing nature of your family. Take your Dachshund from room to room and show him what is his. Your new Dachshund will want to see the Dachsie dining area, the sleeping quarters, the toys, the . . . hold on a minute! Aren’t you forgetting something? That little guy probably has to piddle. Make your selected bathroom place your first stop.
First stop: Elimination station
Dogs like to eliminate in the same place all the time, if they can. If you provide your puppy with a spot in the yard just for this purpose and take him there as soon as you get home — even before you go inside the house — you’ll set the groundwork for housetraining success.
Pick a spot in the yard, put your Dachsie down, and let him sniff around and explore (keep that leash on if your yard isn’t fenced). He may pick a different spot; unless it’s the middle of your flower garden or some other objectionable place, let him choose. If he eliminates, praise him. If he doesn’t, give it a few minutes. If he still doesn’t eliminate, take him inside but don’t put him down on the floor. Bring him back out 10 or 15 minutes later and try again. Keep this up until he does his duty. If you can keep him from having an accident indoors the first day, you’ve made great progress.
I explain crate training, or the method of using his den to teach your puppy how to control his bladder, in more detail in Chapter Teaching Your Dachshund the House Rules. For now, take your puppy outside to his elimination station frequently for the first few days — approximately every two hours — especially on day one. Soon, he’ll learn what that special spot in the yard is for.
Some people prefer to paper-train their Dachshunds — take the dog to the newspaper or puppy-training pad indoors, rather than outside, when it’s potty time. That’s fine. On the first day, just pick a spot, spread out a newspaper, and take your Dachshund there first thing — and about every two hours after that. A scented puppy-training pad (see Chapter Purchasing Your Dachshund Essentials) may encourage elimination. Put it over the newspaper for added protection.
Your breeder may have used newspapers for the puppies to eliminate on, so even if you aren’t paper-training your Dachshund in the house, don’t line his den with newspapers. They may signal to your Dachshund that the den is his elimination station, and that’s not what you want. Choose a comfy blanket or cushion for the crate.
Second stop: The Dachshund dining room
Next up is the dining area. Kitchens and bathrooms are good for puppy food and water bowls because, frankly, puppies aren’t the neatest eaters. Set up a big water bowl before you pup gets home (though not too big — your puppy shouldn’t have to strain to get a drink) and keep it full of clean water at all times.
After your puppy has eliminated in the yard, bring him in and feed him. When you get home, after the initial shock, your puppy will probably be hungry. Puppies need to eat more often than adult dogs, so if you have a puppy, feed him at least three times a day. (Make sure that you don’t feed more than the daily amount recommended by your vet, including treats; see Chapter Purchasing Your Dachshund Essentials.)
A new dog has a lot on his plate, so to speak, so he may not be very hungry the first day. However, puppies, especially Minis, can’t afford to go for a day or two without food. If your puppy refuses to eat for more than 12 hours or acts listless, tired, or very shy or scared, call your vet immediately. He could be sick and may require treatment.
Third stop: The rest of the home
After a nice meal, your Dachsie is probably ready to explore the rest of the house. You’ll show him his sleeping quarters later, but for now, take him into all the rooms in which he’ll be allowed. If he’s a young puppy, you may want to limit him, initially, to just a room or two. Keep him on a leash if he seems nervous, and let him explore without interruptions from curious kids or other pets. Show him all the Dachshund-safe areas of the house, and don’t forget to give him another bathroom break, about 15 or 20 minutes after his meal.
By now, your Dachshund may have figured out that there are some other interesting creatures around. Time for introductions!
Meeting the family
After your dog gets the lay of the land, it’s time for him to meet the inhabitants. Introduce the members of your family one by one. Your Dachshund can become overwhelmed if everyone crowds around at once, so let each family member (especially kids) approach slowly and gently, speaking in quiet, soothing voices.
Some puppies are fine with a little chaos, but introducing your new member to the family one at a time gives him a chance to sniff each person’s hand, check out each person’s face, and enjoy a stroke or two. This approach may help your puppy learn who’s who with a little more ease.
Don’t pass your puppy around just yet. Let him sniff from the safety of your arms or the floor. Children, especially, should never hold a Dachshund while standing up because of the risk that they may drop him. Keep introductions on the down-low (in other words, with kids sitting on the floor).
Approaching the other pets
If you have another dog or cat or two, don’t throw all your pets together right away. Confine your other pets before bringing your new Dachshund into the house. Put them in a room with something that has your new dog’s smell on it — a blanket or mat from his den, maybe. Let your new Dachshund sniff around your house for at least an hour or so while the other pets are confined. After they’ve detected each other by scent, you can bring them face to face. Hold each pet for a while first to keep the situation controlled.
You may also let each pet have a turn inside a crate while the other sniffs the surroundings to see what’s going on. Just don’t let your hands off your new puppy during introductions.
Introducing new pets to resident pets can be tricky. Sometimes things go off without a hitch, but if somebody gets testy, you need to be there, immediately ready to separate the two.
Don’t let a tense situation escalate. If either pet seems anxious, fearful, or aggressive, separate the two and continue to let them interact for very short sessions (just a few minutes) every few hours, with both pets firmly under the control of a responsible adult. Don’t leave them together unsupervised until you’re sure they’re friendly toward each other.
What if my new Dachshund is an adult?
Adult Dachshunds entering new homes experience the same stress as new puppies. They may or may not be better trained than puppies. They don’t know where they are or with whom they’re about to share a life. They don’t know where to eliminate, where to eat, or where to sleep. And they probably need to get used to a brand-new den. Follow the same instructions for a new Dachshund of any age; your new Dachshund will soon be a happy and well-adjusted member of your family, assuming that he was happy and well-adjusted before. (If not, you may have other issues to deal with; see Chapter Teaching Your Dachshund the House Rules.)
Don’t forget to respect your original pet’s space. Your dog or cat needs reassurance that the new puppy is an addition, not a replacement. Give your resident pet plenty of love, too!
Allowing for nap time
After the first potty break, the initial tour, snack, and introductions, your new Dachshund is probably exhausted. Time for a nap. This is your first opportunity to get your Dachshund used to his den. Put the den where you plan to keep it and let your puppy sniff around. Throw a few pieces of kibble inside and let him go in after them. Don’t slam the door behind him; let him come in and out for a few minutes. If it’s been awhile, take him outside to his special bathroom spot for another chance to eliminate. When you return, be sure the den is lined with a soft blanket, cushion, or mat and insert your Dachshund. Gently close the door.
You may hear whining. You may hear crying. You may hear frantic barking. Reassure your puppy in a gentle voice that everything is okay but that it’s time for a nap. You can stay nearby for a bit if you don’t make a fuss and you can ignore the whining. When you leave the room, be strong. Let him whine. He may not know he needs a break, but he does. Leave him there for at least 20 minutes — longer if he falls asleep.
When your Dachshund is inside his den, let him be inside. Don’t talk to him or otherwise disturb him. Because a dog can’t properly interact with you while in his den, talking to him can cause him anxiety, especially as he’s getting used to his new situation.
When he wakes up, let him out immediately so he doesn’t associate the den with too much unpleasantness at first. Take him directly outside to his special spot for a potty break and then come back in again for more fun and exploration.
Now you can play or try your first training session — something very simple, such as raising a piece of kibble above your puppy’s head to make him sit as you say “Sit.” (Chapter Putting Your Dachshund through Basic Training has more on basic commands, including Sit.)
Surviving the First Night
The first night with a new Dachshund puppy, or any new dog, carries its share of burdens and joys. You go to bed, you get up, you take the puppy out, you go back to bed, you get up, you take the puppy out, you go back to bed, you get up . . . in between, who can sleep with that whining and crying? And who can get mad at puppies that don’t seem to need sleep (see Figure 9-1)?
People with new babies don’t sleep much either; fortunately, your puppy will probably learn to sleep through the night much sooner than a human infant. And if your Dachshund is older, he’ll learn even more quickly because he’s simply getting used to a new situation.
Figure 9-1: Sleep? We don’t need no stinking sleep! (Photo courtesy of Judy Rosensteel.)
You may spend the first night pulling out your hair, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. But don’t call the breeder just yet to beg for her to take your puppy back. Approach the first night with optimism and a sense of duty, and you’ll do right by your Dachshund. Taking your puppy out a couple of times during the first night is a labor of love and well worth the payoff in the end.
A few strategies can help you sail through that first night, and the nights to come, with ease. The following sections present these strategies.
The crying game
One of the hardest parts for dog lovers to endure is the whining. Your Dachshund will cry, moan, howl, plead, and beg on the first night. He wants to sleep with you. How can you resist? He sounds so pitiful, so pathetic, so lonely. If you were in that kennel, you’d want someone to take you out and cuddle you, too.
But you aren’t in that kennel, and your Dachshund isn’t a human. Dogs prefer to sleep in enclosed, den-like places. Yours simply hasn’t grown accustomed to his den yet, and he won’t if you don’t give him the chance.
If the crying keeps you awake, you can always move your Dachshund to another room, although he’ll probably be happier in the room with you. If the whining gets frantic, get up and take your puppy to his special spot in the yard or on the newspaper. Stay calm and reassuring, but don’t make a big fuss; this will just reward your Dachshund for his whining.
Don’t ever wake him up to take him out. He needs to learn to sleep through the night, so let sleeping dogs lie (as they say).
After your Dachshund is trained to sleep through the night without needing to go out, you have my permission to let him sleep under the covers with you, unless you really object to the idea. Truth is, under the covers is where most Dachshunds sleep — whether their humans originally intended things that way or not.
That doesn’t mean you won’t still use the den. Housetraining, naps during the day, confinement when you can’t have your dog in the way, and trips to the vet all make the crate an invaluable resource. But at night, Dachshunds want to be near their humans and they love being underneath things, so when yours is sleeping through the night, you may just decide that the bed is okay. Besides, Dachshunds are insistent. They’re persistent. They very likely will break you. And when winter comes, you’ll be glad because there are few things in life cozier than a warm, snuggly Dachshund next to your cold feet on a frigid January morning.
But that day hasn’t arrived yet. On the first night, you’re still in the training stages. When enduring the whining, remember that you aren’t being cruel; you’re being kind. It just doesn’t feel like it. And if you do give in and let him sleep with you because you just can’t stand it, don’t kick yourself. You aren’t the first Dachshund puppy owner to cave!
In and out, in and out
In general, your puppy needs to go out every two to three hours during the night if he’s about 8 weeks old — less often if he’s older. That doesn’t mean he won’t ask to go out more often, however. He’s lonely and scared, and he doesn’t like being shut in that unfamiliar place. If whining can get you out of bed and him out of his crate, he’ll keep doing it!
Maybe you’ll get lucky. Some puppies sleep straight through the night or need to go out only once. If yours is more demanding, don’t despair. Your puppy will soon learn, and in a few days, you’ll be able to stretch the times between outings to four, six, and, hallelujah, eight hours. Most puppies learn in a week or two. Standards probably will sleep through the night before Minis, just because they have bigger bladders (see Chapter The Long and Short of Dachshund Varieties for more differences).
Adult dogs need to eliminate approximately four times per day, although some get by with fewer trips to the elimination station. Young puppies need to go more often, but almost always eliminate sometime within an hour after eating.
Good habits to get into
You can do a few things to help your Dachshund sleep through the night without the need to eliminate every hour:
– Unless your puppy seems unusually thirsty, limit water consumption after 7 p.m.
– Take your puppy outside to eliminate right before you put him down for the night.
– Take your puppy out first thing in the morning, at the same time every day. You can always go back to sleep on the weekends, but your puppy may not be able to hold it if you decide to sleep in.
– Check your puppy’s bedding frequently in the early days. If he gets used to sleeping on wet bedding, he’ll be more inclined to continue having accidents in his crate.
Keep reminding yourself that you’re teaching your puppy to control his bladder and establish good habits. Then, after he’s learned, you can relax the reins a bit. In fact, you may even be convinced to let your Dachshund sleep with you!
The Morning After: Starting a Routine
It’s morning . . . already! The sun is up, and you’ve made it through the first night. Today is your first full day with your new friend. It’s also the day for setting up the routine you’ll live with most of the time.
Don’t wait to incorporate your Dachsie into your routine. You don’t have to make the first few weeks special for your Dachshund. If you can take time to be home more often, that’s perfect, but don’t center your entire day around your new dog. When things go back to normal, your dog won’t understand the sudden change.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and they love routine. Let your new Dachshund know, from the very first full day, what the schedule will be. Everyone will get along more easily and happily that way, and your new dog will be glad to know what to expect. The following sections show you the way.
Setting up a family routine
Your new family routine should be a lot like your old family routine. You simply need to add a few steps here and there. If you’re a list person, you can write your family’s new schedule on a piece of paper; insert the following items where they make sense for your situation.
Young puppies need to go out for a bathroom break about every two hours during the day and every three to four hours at night, so you may need to add more potty breaks to this list (for more on housetraining, see Chapter Teaching Your Dachshund the House Rules).
- Take puppy out (first thing in the morning).
- Give puppy breakfast.
- Take puppy out (about 20 minutes after breakfast).
- Groom puppy.
- Train puppy.
- Pet puppy.
- Give puppy lunch.
- Take puppy out (about 20 minutes after lunch).
- Train puppy again.
- Take puppy for a walk.
- Give puppy dinner.
- Take puppy out (about 20 minutes after dinner).
- Pet puppy.
- Take puppy out (right before bed).
- Put puppy to bed.
- Take puppy out (when necessary in the middle of the night).
Yep, your day is more complicated than it was pre-Dachshund, and it will take a little more time. That may mean less time for television, talking on the phone, or whatever else you do with your leisure time, but that’s the commitment you made when you decided to bring a dog into your life.
But keep this in mind: Incorporating your puppy’s routine into your own is fun. Having a Dachshund around makes life better — just ask any devoted Dachshund owner. Your time spent will be well worth it.
Also, schedule in some quiet time a few times each day (preferably at about the same time) with your Dachshund. Pet and talk to him in a gentle voice without any demands or expectations. Tune out everything else and focus on your pet. You and your new friend will both come to anticipate these bonding sessions. Your Dachshund will grow to feel safe and secure in your presence, and you may experience some wonderful stress relief. Five minutes twice a day is plenty. It may well be the best ten minutes of your day!
Becoming creatures of habit
Because dogs respond well to schedules and routines, establishing a daily order is an important part of making your dog feel like his universe is secure and in order. In addition to establishing the routine, however, you need to make sure that all your tasks occur at approximately the same times each day.
Keeping a schedule isn’t always easy, but it is important for your Dachshund, so try your best. Take him out at the same time each morning, feed him at the same times each day, and train, groom, walk, and pet him consistently — always in the same order, always at about the same time. (Okay, you can improvise some on the petting, but stick with the rest of it!) This kind of life is heaven for a dog and establishes a firm foundation that will make training much, much easier.
Grooming: Don’t wait
You may be tempted to wait awhile before grooming your Dachshund — especially if you have a smooth (see Chapter The Long and Short of Dachshund Varieties). Isn’t that too much to do on the first or second day?
Not at all. Grooming is a crucial part of your Dachshund’s routine. It keeps your pet healthy, accustoms him to handling by you or anyone else (your vet most importantly), and alerts you to any lumps, bumps, bald spots, parasites, or other health problems before they become too serious.
Puppies don’t need much grooming at first, but starting a grooming routine on the first day helps train your dog to accept and even enjoy grooming. Even if you plan to have your longhaired or wirehaired Dachsie professionally groomed, daily maintenance sessions with you are important for your dog’s health and are great for stay-acquainted time. See Chapter Healthy Dachshund 101 for more information on grooming your Dachshund.
Training on the first day
Your pup can learn good habits only through your instruction. Training is something that shouldn’t wait. Why not begin training on the very first full day with your new Dachsie? Training should be fun for both you and your Dachshund. Positive reinforcement — praising the behavior you want rather than punishing the behavior you don’t want — is a great way to teach your puppy the rules, and training sessions that use positive reinforcement are enjoyable for everyone. Check out the chapters of Part III for info on how to train your new Dachshund.
Remaining calm and patient
Dachshunds are adorable but stubborn little creatures, so cultivating the virtue of patience is a necessity for any new Dachshund owner hoping to establish a routine. Just when you think your pup will never learn, he does. (Or he just decides to give in and do what you want, probably because he figured out there’s something good in it for him!)
Being impatient and getting irritated at your new pet doesn’t help teach him how to behave. It only teaches your Dachshund how to fear you. If you feel yourself getting irritable, stop a training or grooming session immediately, or give your Dachshund a break in his den. If you think you can’t stand to clean up one more accident, rethink your housetraining techniques. If you can’t stand to clean up the chewed garbage one more time, move the garbage to a place where your puppy can’t reach it. A lot of this is common sense if you step back and look at what’s really going on.
Sure, puppy behavior can be frustrating, but in most cases, the behavior that really needs changing is yours. Your puppy isn’t getting the message, and you need to reexamine your strategy.
Most importantly, don’t lose your temper and get angry with your dog. There’s never a good reason to strike a dog. Hitting doesn’t make sense to dogs; it only makes you appear dangerous and unpredictable. Manage your puppy’s behavior in a way that will help improve the behavior to your liking. You’re in charge. You can do it.
Calling On a Vet
Many breeders, rescue groups, shelters, and pet stores require a vet visit within the first day or two to activate the health contract. Whether or not this is required, a vet visit is a must for other reasons. A vet can do the following on your first visit with your new pet:
- Alert you to potential problems with your dog
- Instruct you on proper care
- Set up a schedule for first-year vaccinations
- Do basic maintenance that might be necessary, like de-worming and vaccinations
- Give you training tips and advice on behavior modification
Your vet is an invaluable resource in your dog’s care, so take full advantage and visit often. And if your Dachshund has been under the care of another vet before he became yours, get that vet’s contact information so your vet can get up to speed on what your Dachshund needs and what has already been done for him.
If you haven’t found a good vet yet, ask your local rescue organization, animal shelter, or even local breeder for a recommendation to a Dachshund-familiar vet. Also talk to friends, especially fellow Dachshund owners, who use their vets for regular checkups. Although you can always vet-hop if you don’t like the one you pick, your best bet — and the best situation for your pet — is to pick someone who receives rave reviews from experienced pet owners and who has a lot of experience with Dachshunds.
When you find a candidate, call ahead and ask for a tour of the veterinary hospital. This helps you determine if the staff is friendly, as they’ll reflect the attitude of the doctors. A good hospital has nothing to hide and the staff will be proud to show you their hospital and equipment, and they should also be willing to explain their procedures and policies to you.
Find out if the hospital is a member of the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association). These hospitals have voluntarily opened themselves up for inspection and must meet rigorous standards to be members. You can also find a hospital in your area at www.healthypet.com.
During your tour or initial visit, take the following good-vet checklist with you to make your evaluation and choice easier. Make several copies and fill out one for each vet you visit, if you visit more than one:
– Was it easy to make an appointment?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Was the person on the phone friendly and accommodating?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Is the vet’s office easy to get to or too far away?
❑ Accessible ❑Inaccessible
– How do the prices compare with other vets in the area?
❑ Cheaper ❑On par ❑ Expensive!
– Does the reception area look and smell clean? (A doggy smell is natural, but you shouldn’t smell anything unpleasant.)
❑ Yes ❑No
– Is the office staff friendly and polite when you visit?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Does your Dachshund seem interested when you visit, or does she seem nervous? (This isn’t always a good indicator. Some dogs act nervous in new places, and your Dachshund may remember a previous vet’s office where she received a vaccination shot.)
❑ Interested ❑Nervous
– Do you have a good feeling about the vet? Is he friendly, open, and easy to talk to?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Does the vet seem to have a genuine interest and love for animals?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Does the vet seem to bond with you and your dog?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Is the vet ready and willing to answer all your questions?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Does the vet make you feel like he has plenty of time for you?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Is the vet willing to give you references?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Is the vet open and forthcoming about his training?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Does the vet have any particular experience with Dachshunds?
❑ Yes ❑No
– Do you have a good feeling about the whole experience after you leave?
❑ Yes ❑No
Make some notes on the back of your checklist so that you remember specific things about each individual vet. It’s easy to forget details when you’ve visited several. If the answers you give look favorable on the whole, congratulations — it looks like you’ve found a great vet for your Dachsie!
by Eve Adamson