Bernedoodle Puppy Success
Before You Bring Your Puppy Home:
Before bringing your puppy home, be sure you have done your own research about Bernedoodles, and puppies in general. The biggest challenge is the first few weeks. We recommend that you plan on using some vacation time during the first few weeks to get your puppy off to a great start. Put the hard work in early, and you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor after! We see the biggest failures occur when people are not willing to invest the time needed during the first few weeks. In these weeks, your puppy will become crate trained, housebroken, and continue learning their basic commands (sit, down, stay and come). We will have already started this in our home but you must continue putting the hard work in the first few weeks. Yes that could mean some sleepless nights but it will be over before you know it.
Once Your Puppy is Home:
Once your puppy is home, enjoy it. First and foremost just know that this will not last for a long period of time. Puppyhood can be so rewarding but you have to be patient and be their leader. Bernedoodles must be trained using a very loving and patient approach. We feed ours about 2.5 cups of food per day spread out over 3-4 meals per day. See our puppy contract in header above, click the link, and we have the feeding schedule spelled out there. If you want a housebroken puppy, and fast, the bottom line is that you need to get your puppy out frequently. We take ours out every 20-30 minutes, and more frequently right after meals. After they drink (we always allow them access to clean fresh water) or eat we will take them out every 10-15 minutes until they have both urinated and defecated. We always have somebody watching over the puppies for the first few weeks or they stay in their crates so that we can monitor when they do #1 and/or #2 and we prefer to teach potty commands right from the get-go . The bottom line, is that if you want to housebreak your puppy fast, you need to prevent as many accidents as possible. Never, ever, use newspaper or puppy pads if you want to do this the right way. Bottom line is that the puppies will quickly learn that outside is where they are supposed to go to the bathroom. Every puppy is different, and some will have faster metabolisms. You need to watch for the visual cues your puppy will tell you when they have to go (increased pacing, head down sniffing...get them out!). Also we set up our puppy area using baby fences that is next to the door that they will use to go in and out of the house to go potty. They will quickly learn to tell you when they have to go by either sitting or standing next to the door, or in some cases, scratching at the door....at the moment you see this get them out! Some people have had success training their dogs to paw at some bells that you can tether up at the back door as well. Bottom line, is that the more you're on top of this early, the quicker they will learn the deal of housebreaking. In most cases we have had our puppies housebroken within a day or two, but this means we are always with the puppies the first few weeks until they have the hang of it.
Once they do, they won't be perfect and accidents will still happen (and usually the persons mistake). DO NOT scold the dog. Just quickly scoop up the dog and take them outside. When the puppies are young, we start telling them to go potty (for pee) and poo poo (for...poo!). You can use any other command but this is what we have used successfully. Training them to go on command is hugely helpful and starts imprinting on the dog what they need to do outside. As the puppies start moving around outside we just say "Go Potty"...or "Go Poo Poo" repeatedly. We keep repeating this until they give the characteristic squat of urinating or hump backed and crouched position of defecating. As soon as they are done (at the very moment, and not a second later) we excitedly praise the puppy by saying "Good Potty" or "Good Poo Poo". You can also first say "Yes!" "Good Potty" with an excited voice. The Bernedoodle puppies want to please you and they catch on to this very quickly. You continue to repeat this process everytime they go outside and they will get the hang of it. This is extremely useful especially when you're on long road trips or in a rush to leave the house for a bit! We typically remove food after the puppies have had all the opportunity they want to feed and usually have the last feeding around 7 pm but leave water out all the time until about 8 pm. We will continue to walk them every 30-45 minutes (unless they are sleeping) and we try to get them some good romping around time at this point so they are good and tired for bed time. We use crates at night time and during the day on occassion to get them used to the crate. We give them one last walk around 11:00 pm.
When they are 7-9 weeks of age, expect to get up once in the early morning hours to walk them, but just let them go to the bathroom, and then promptly return them to their crate. Be strong with this! Don't give in to any whining or barking or the like. If you do, they have conditioned you and the crate will become a dust collector. The first few nights the puppies may literally go bizerk on you....whining and crying to get out. Be strong! Just firmly tell the puppy "QUIET". Don't do anything more than this. We had one puppy that cried and pawed at the crate door the whole night and we thought for sure this would be the one that wasn't going to crate train. Well by day three, she was perfect. You just need to know that except on very, very, very rare occassion, your puppy is going to learn to settle and sleep in their crate. You just have to be mentally strong, get some ear plugs, give your puppies maybe a sound machine and some toys, and try to get some rest. MAKE SURE ALL COLLARS ARE OFF WHENEVER THE DOG IS PLACED IN THE CRATE FOR SAFETY PURPOSES! We just get one of the XL size crates and then safely secure an object to give them less space...just enough to turn and sleep. This way you won't have to get a bigger crate when they grow. Although we give them an open fenced in area that we supervise to play in, we will put them in the crate several times during the day for about an hour so that they can get used to the routine. They may fight it at first, but will learn to love it very soon. Just don't quit on this very important step.
So the big take home notes from all of this is:
1) be diligent with the crate training
2) get the puppies outside alot and learn to read visual cues when they go outside and lots of praise when they do.
3) start teaching them basic obedience commands right when you get them (e.g if you want to teach them "sit" try a few minutes of training right before meal time when they are hungry and motivated). Don't over do this at the young ages and just incorporate training throughout the day as a general part of their daily routine.
SO if you want to teach them sit, just put a piece of food in your hand, palm facing up, and begin moving the food slightly above their head and backward while saying "sit"....once they "sit" immediately say excitedly "Good Sit" and praise and treat them quickly so that they can associate the command with the treat....carry on!). We will have already started this with them but keep it going! Just be patient, enjoy puppyhood, have a great attitude, and you'll develop what will be your favorite dog ever!
Another common behavior in all puppies is mouthing (i.e. puppy biting)...this is how they begin sensing the environment, communicate, and we have never had one of our puppies become aggressive or the like and this mouth exploring behavior is something that goes away with time. However there are some things you can do to help. First, have a toy or bone within reach and when the puppy begins mouthing a hand or arm or something just say "OUCH" and then give them the toy or bone. Do not hit nor tap on the puppies snout. Just a firm and loud "OUCH!!". Puppies are exploring and play biting each other during the first 8 weeks and they learn how hard they can and can not bite. Human flesh, without the thick coat, is a lot more sensitive and the puppy needs to learn what is and what is not appropriate. Don't be afraid to raise your voice when the mouthing is too hard. Or if the puppy is doing good licking then say "Good kisses" or whatever praise statement you want to use. But really encourage the good behavior. The frequency of puppy mouthing will naturally decrease but you need to teach them acceptable force of their bite....you'll say OUCH a lot the first month!
We are always here for you and will help partner with you during this process. Please never, ever hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns. We want to see you have great success with your new family member!!