Can you believe it? Atlas turned six months old last Friday and has been with us for four whole months! Learn what life with a European Doberman puppy is like in this 4 month update.
Four months have passed since we picked up Atlas from West Coast Doberman Ranch. In this article, I describe what life with a European Doberman puppy is like in this 4 month update.
What I would Do Differently
After four months of gaining experience raising our first European Doberman puppy, and as first time dog owners, there are a few things I would do differently.
Pick Up a Puppy in Spring, Not Winter
For one, I would pick up a puppy in spring. We picked up Atlas in the dead middle of winter, January 12th, 2020. There are several reasons why I rather pick our next Doberman puppy in spring.
For one, day light is short. That means when I return home at night from work, it is already dark. This makes evening dog walks unpleasant. Some people enjoy walking in the dark but I prefer not to. The same can be said about the morning.
Secondly, it’s cold during winter. In the morning, temperature in Southern California dips as low as 37°F degrees and I can only imagine what East coast and our northern neighbors’ winters are like. When we brought Atlas home, I had to take him out several times a night and early in the morning for about a month. So not only is it dark outside, it’s also very cold.
Third, it rains (or snows depending on where you live). This hampers outdoor activities. It also makes taking Atlas out for his bathroom break quite the challenge. This is especially true during his first three months of life where he has to go out frequently.
Buy a Crate, But Save the Dog Bed and Crate Bed for Later
The dog crate is instrumental for two reasons. One, it is one of the essential tool you’ll need to housebreak your puppy. Two, once your puppy is welcomed to the idea of the crate, then it will eventually find refuge in it. After a long day of fun, or just to escape the hustle and bustle of the living room noise, your Doberman will find solace in its crate.
You may be tempted to buy a dog bed and crate bed for your young puppy. My advise is to hold off until your puppy is 100% housebroken, around 6 months old. All you need is just one accident from your puppy on its crate bed or dog bed and all bets are off. It will use it as its urination pad.
We had to take away Atlas’ crate bed and dog bed after 3 weeks because he started to frequently urinate on them. We did not return his beds until he stopped urinating on them.
The Real Training Starts at 4 Months Old
While we were able to train Atlas when he was as young as 2 ½ months old, it was very challenging. The challenge was to get Atlas to focus and at such a young age, his attention span was zero. I started gauging his attention span as he got older. From my experience with Atlas, the best time to really start training a Doberman puppy is at 4 months old (about 16 weeks). At 4 months, Atlas was able to maintain focus.
I focused primarily on training Atlas to learn his name during the first month he was with us. I’d say he fully learned his name after 5 weeks of repetition and training. At 5 weeks, I can yell out “ATLAS!” from any where in our house and he would come running to me.
Atlas understood what we expected from him, making training a lot easier, less stressful and enjoyable. However, that is not to say that you can’t train your puppy earlier. We had a head start and Atlas was able to learn many commands by the time he was 16 weeks old. “Wait” and “leave it” were the first commands he learned, besides his name. He learned these two commands at 12 weeks old. Now at 6 months old, Atlas is familiar with these commands in the order we trained him:
- Leave it
- Get the ball, go get it
About House Breaking
One thing we were consistent with training was house breaking. As you can imagine, Atlas had a lot of accidents during the first month with us, especially the first two weeks. We installed a smart dog bell and trained Atlas to use it if he wants to go outside to the backyard. It took him about a week to learn to press it with his nose and to associate the bell with going outside. During the second month, Atlas had fewer accidents but he did have a couple of accidents in his crate. To date, he had a total of four or five crate accidents that I’ve counted. On the third month with us, Atlas had two accidents at most in the house. On his fourth month with us, six months old, Atlas had zero accidents in the house and zero accidents in the crate.
While he hasn’t had any accidents in a one month stretch, I am not 100% confident to say that he is completely housebroken, yet. If he can last another two months with zero accidents, then he is indeed housebroken and he can roam the house with minimal supervision.
Watch for Pet Health Insurance Coverage Start Date
When we acquired Atlas, I did not waste time enrolling him in a pet health insurance policy with preventative care option. What I should have done was read the fine print on when the coverage actually starts! For most pet health insurance policies, Atlas’ included, core coverage (health and accidental) does not start until 2 weeks have passed. While his preventative care option starts immediately, I signed Atlas up at midnight the day of his first vet appointment, unbeknownst to me. And because of that, we paid $315 out of pocket for his exam and shots that would’ve been reimbursed. D’oh!
That’s it for our 4 month update on our experience living with a European Doberman puppy as first time dog owners. I’ll post another update in 6 months, documenting our first year experience.