Welcome to The Sheba Chronicles, your guide for how to raise a happy, confident, well-mannered puppy right from the start!
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Warning: cuteness overload ahead!
Puppies tend to be curious, inquisitive, and can unknowingly get themselves into trouble - these are some of the traits that are so cute about puppies and fun to watch, yet nerve wracking at the same time! Bringing a new puppy home is also a transition for the puppy as well as for you, and the first few days can be stressful as your pup learns how to navigate her new world and build trust and security. This is why it's imperative to set up a "puppy proof" space in your home that you can trust your puppy to be alone in without getting herself in harm's way, and at the same time help her feel secure to build her confidence to be left alone (so you can still have the much-needed breaks, go to work, etc).
I specifically selected a playpen with only vertical bars (not horizontal) so Sheba could not climb her way out, since Shiba Inus are known for being quite agile, and one that was made of steel as opposed to plastic or wood (which is more easily chewed by a puppy). I also wanted one with a full door that we/she could walk through easily, that latched securely so she could not accidentally push it open, that could stay open if I wanted to give her free reign of the room and that would close automatically behind us if I didn't want it propped open. The pen I chose is the Frisco Steel 8-Panel Configurable Dog Gate and Playpen, available on Chewy. I am pleased with how well it is made and how easy it was for me to put it together by myself (no second person required). I also like that I can change the configuration anytime I want from a stand-alone pen of various shapes, to a gate across a wide open space in the house, to a pen I can secure against a wall in a corner space as needed. I don't know how often I will use those other features at this time but they are nice to have as options!
I have included some items in or nearby her pen to provide mental stimulation - including various types of toys and things for Sheba to engage with or check out on her own - and some items for a feeling of security...
I have also "puppy-proofed" the rest of my office, which is the room where the pen is set up, so that Sheba can be free in my office as well if I am in there working or doing a few things around the house. After all, these are good training opportunities! More to come on that later ;-). The floor is tile, which makes for an easy clean-up if she were to have an accident, but I have also included a washable pee pad on the floor of her pen. I have tucked away any electrical cords where she cannot reach them, have removed any fragile items from anywhere within reach for her, and have made sure there are no areas she can get "stuck" without having enough space to turn around or get out. Lastly, I keep the door to the adjoining bathroom closed so she cannot help herself to the trash or toilet paper when I am not around and I have a gate in my office doorway so she cannot escape into the hall.
The more Sheba has settled in, the more I have already been able to trust her free in my office without incident while I have taken a shower or gone out to run errands, etc. Way to go, Sheba!!
Maria Huntoon, CBCC-KA