What to Expect When Your Puppy Comes Home
As a breeder, I firmly believe in litter box training my puppies. I start them at 3 weeks of age.
Litter box training is also called “Misty Method”. Misty Method was developed by breeder Bev Dorma from MistyTrails Havanese/Mastiffs. The theory is based of dogs in the wild. Most training should be based on wild dogs. That way you are working with natural instincts and not against. As is the case with kennel training. The litter box training goes hand in hand with the kennel training.
In the wild, dogs typically live in caves. The reason? Protection. Laying down in the open is not natural as it leaves them open to attack by predators, or competing packs, and they then are not safe to peacefully rest. This is especially true of canine mother’s. They seek out covered places to birth their puppies. That is why you will see our whelping area covered by a dark blanket or sheet and against a wall. This allows mom to feel safe birthing her babies without fear of attack.
In the whelping area, whether at home or in the wild, the den is kept clean. Mom cleans the puppies every time they eliminate. It is not natural for dogs to eat, sleep, and play in the same area where they use the potty.
At 3 weeks, puppies are able to get around enough that the concept is not completely lost on them. As a breeder, I assist with making sure the blankets are always clean. At 3 weeks, they are certainly not 100% potty trained so there are messes. Especially urine. Mom cleans the solids easily however, the liquids are obviously not as easy. Between the Mother and the breeder, the concept of cleanliness is doubled down on, if the breeder is cleaning the blankets (which I hope they are!).
If we can grab a solid, we will put it in the potty area to “scent” it, just reaffirming, “this is potty”.
As they grow, they get better with the habit of going into the area.
Once the introduction of supplementation begins, we physically place the puppies into the potty area after they are done eating (supplement recipe below).
Once your puppy comes home, make sure they know that outside is their potty area. Remember their bladders are still pretty tiny so you are going to be getting up about every 20-30 minutes for about 2 weeks.
If you want to train them to use a bell to let you know they need to go potty, mount the bell next to the door. Either ding the bell with their nose or their paw and then put them out immediately. After about a week, they will start understanding bell=potty.
Our supplementation recipe comes from Becky at (where I got my Chiron from) Pony Field Farm in West Virginia.
1. 10 ounces of Goat’s Milk. I found a goat’s milk soap maker close to me that allows me to buy fresh. Remember, if you write to a goat farm for milk, you must specify it is for your animals, not you. It is illegal to sell goat’s milk for human consumption without special licensing. I have used the powdered goat’s milk and it works fine. Also, you can get it at almost any grocery store. Do not, not, not give cow’s milk. If you can not find Goat’s Milk, use full fat evaporated cow’s milk and add one raw egg yolk to it.
2. Add in 1 cup of plain full fat yogurt. I prefer Stonyfield Farm Organic Plain Yogurt or Brown Cow Cream Top Plain Yogurt.
Both of these have probiotics which are great for tummies. For Adult Dogs, you can use Activa
With puppies, I prefer the organic, no or low sugar yogurt. Do not get sugar-free, it is likely full of sugar alcohols which are bad for anything that lives.
3. 1 tsp of light corn syrup, Karo is the most common.
4. Two raw egg yolks. I just use liquid egg but fresh is always better.
We do that for about a week. Then we put their dry kibble (The Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Adult Lamb in the dark green bag) into the food processor and powderize it. We add the puppy supplement to it. It should slosh when you move it. Do not let the puppies eat alone. Watch them for any sign of issues like choking. They should be able to lap it up like their supplement but with a little more effort in the swallowing and possibly mashing with their gums or tiny teeth that may be coming in.
We then just start adding only goat’s milk and continue the process until they get old enough to break up the kibble with their teeth.
By the time you take them home (no less that 8 weeks old), they will be on their kibble full time. Always make sure they have fresh water!
We allow Mom to go in and out as she feels she needs to. Although she may not be feeding, she is teaching them still. At the time of Mom weaning, the puppies are usually going into their litter box 90% of the time to poop. Tinkles are a little less successful. My theory is that since Mom can’t catch the tinkle all the time and as a breeder, I can’t change blankets out fast enough to keep up, that they just see pee differently. Just my own theory though.
So now you bring your puppy home.
Before you bring your puppy home you will want to have the following items already set up.
The Midwest Great Dane kennels have the ability to buy an extra panel. You are going to want that! Your baby should have enough room for a bed, have a water bowl, a chewie and a kennel safe toy and stand up. Any bigger and they will potty in their kennel (for now). The reason I recommend the Midwest is because you will not have to buy another kennel as your pup grows. Think of it as one of those transition crib/toddler beds.
Put your puppy out every 30 minutes and say “potty”. Remember their bladders are not very big so they simple can’t hold it. They are not being oppositional if they potty in the house. They have been taught there are certain potty areas from the time they were 3 weeks old. They just can’t hold it. Once they potty, immediately let them back in. That is their reward! If they tinkle and still sniff around, they are not done yet. Bring your phone with you, so you can play some solitaire while you wait. Typically is does not take that long though. Danes can’t wait to be with you so they will step lively and be done asap.
Puppies go home on the Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Adult, Lamb (in the dark green bag). They have been free-feeding. Always ask your Vet what is best though. I am just letting you know how they have been eating at our house.
Elevated Feeding Stations and Great Danes – What You Need to Know
As far as elevated bowls go, there is a lot of controversy on the subject right now. We have traditionally always fed on elevated platforms. However, after reading the Purdue University Glickman study, we are no longer feeding on an elevation. If you would like to read the study, click here. The cliffs notes are; it was a purely statistical study with no control groups and because of that many find the findings to be inconclusive. However, with the data that was collected, the study states that elevated bowls, on dogs with barrel chests, had an increased risk for developing bloat if they are fed on an elevated platform. Now, it does state that there were other factors involved like high fat foots and/or citric acids and genetics. I have read that 52% of bloat cases, in giant breeds, are related to elevated bowls. I have had a Dane die of bloat. He did have raised bowls. I certainly do not necessarily equate one with the other however, 52% is an alarming number. I am not sure if that number came from the Glickman study or some other study but that is a huge number and one I did not take lightly. So our dogs are now fed on the floor.
It really comes down to what you and your Vet decide.
That said, I would take a serious gander at gastroplexy. My feeling is, if can help your Dane live a longer and healthier life, then do it.
Should you choose to elevate your feeding station, it should be between 21″ to 27″ high. Do not spend a lot of money on these fancy elevated feeding stations. You can simply use plant stands and bowls from Dollar Tree, if your dog isn’t clumsy. If you have an aggressive eater, you may want to consider heavier bowls. Even the plant stands may not work. They tend to be a little leggy and not super solid.
As far as bowls go, I have heard that plastic is bad, metal is good. I have heard metal is bad and plastic is good. Danes have a tendency to get muzzle acne and I have heard that metal bowls cause it and I have heard plastic bowls cause it. The technical term is muzzle folliculitis. If your Dane gets it and you are using plastic, switch to metal and vice-versa. You may need to call your vet for antibiotics to clear it up but there are home remedies you can find online.
Is there such a thing as indestructible bedding? Yes, it is made of concrete but likely not very cozy. So, my recommendation is either a fleece covered bed or fleece blankets. I really loved the moving blankets but they do clog up the washers and dryers and the dogs have learned how to shred them. Both those gray ones and the blue quilted ones. So, fleece it is. My dogs have not torn these blankets up and they come in the most amazing colors!
So there are not many things that I feel safe leaving in a kennel. I am that dog mom. Yes, I am that hooman mom too. I wouldn’t even pump my own gas when I was pregnant. Your puppy is going to cry, whine, and sound like he or she is dying for about 1-2 weeks after you get him/her home. You will need to find your patience during this time! They are noisy! You are going to be crate training at the same time. So you are going to want them to at least be entertained in between their “dying”. You do not want to give them too many toys, it overloads them and they will get bored of their choices easily. So. Here is the trick. Buy at least 5-7 kennel safe toys. You will rotate them out. For them it will be a “oh wow, a new toy, thanks Mom and/or Dad”. Here are some things I feel ok about leaving them alone with. But again, I am NOT an expert and this is only my opinion! If you heard something , your Vet says NO or you have a bad gut feeling, do not use the toy.
Nylabone FlexiChews. Only as puppies should they be left alone with these. As they grow up and their chewing ability is more advanced, I would not leave these in a kennel with a Dane.
Yak Milk Bones – Take these away when they get too small. Pop into the microwave for about 30 seconds and it turns into a puff they can eat. Love these!!
I’ll put more things up later. Trachea and bully sticks are good as well but I will warn you, they are greasy and can use diarrhea. Same with pig ears. They also sometimes come with coloring and that can stain carpets. They can smell gamey too. It’s why I like the Yak bones.