Atlas has officially been with us for one whole week. You are probably wondering what life is like with a European Doberman puppy as new dog owners. The short answer is…
It was smooth sailing with a minor bump and some adjusting.
The “minor bump” occurred on the second night, and it was Atlas’ separation anxiety from his home in Northern California. More on this later.
Research and Preparation is Key
We extensively researched the Doberman breed over many months before even placing our deposit. And even after we placed our deposit, we continued to learn from seasoned Doberman owners. I’ve read all I could about housebreaking, crate training, diets, dental hygiene, exercise and puppy care. There are plenty of resources online, such as the American Kennel Club and hopefully, this site in the future. “The Journey to Find Our Doberman Pinscher” accounts for our 9-month journey to find our Doberman puppy.
We also prepared our home well in advance to welcome Atlas. Months even. We ordered his core essentials weeks before his arrival, i.e. toys, bed, Bully sticks, toothbrush, shampoo, vitamin supplements, food and water bowls, crate, leash, collar, dog food and treats. I saved a pet insurance quote a while back when I was looking at pet insurance policies. We purchased the pet health insurance policy the day before we picked up Atlas. At the same time, we have picked our veterinarian and schedule Atlas’ first check up a day after.
In addition, I created Atlas’ meal time schedule in advance and calculated the amount of food to feed him per serving. I’ve also changed up my schedule to revolve around Atlas. That is, I wake up two hours earlier than usual to take Atlas out for his morning break, to feed him and to play with him before heading to work. I was also prepared to take Atlas out in the middle of the night to relieve himself.
Here is how our 1st week with Atlas played out:
Atlas arrived home around 6:00 PM after a 6-7 hour drive. He had the opportunity to explore our home and our backyard. Atlas had two minor accidents in the living room in the evening. He slept in his crate at 10:00 PM with no problems and didn’t wake up for his overnight bathroom break until 2:00 AM.
He had his first vet visit for his wellness exam, 3rd round vaccination, microchip, fecal test and flea treatment. Atlas slept in his crate during the day with no issues. He had a long day and a total of 5 accidents (urination) throughout the day.
Unfortunately, it did not pan well during bedtime. Atlas experienced what we believe was separation anxiety from his home in Northern California. He whined and howled for 6 hours; yes, six whole hours, starting at 10:00 PM and until we fell asleep sometime around 3:30 AM – 4:00 AM. We initially moved Atlas’ crate into our room next to me, it worked for a while, then he would wake up and start whining again.
We moved Atlas’ crate back out. I took him out to the backyard thinking he might need to relieve himself, twice during his episode about 2 hours apart, but to no avail. It was clear that he felt lonely and insecure in his new home. Eventually, he went to sleep but not without losing his puppy voice due to all the howling and whining. As for my wife and I? We both enjoyed a glorious 3 hour of sleep. Fortunately, I had the following day off and our 3 year old toddler son slept through the night.
Atlas took puppy naps in his crate throughout the day without hesitation. Each nap lasted between 2 hours to 3 hours. I also worked him out pretty good, playing chase in the backyard for about 45 minutes. He also began to pick up his name and the command to come. On Day 3, Atlas had zero accidents. He eagerly went to sleep in his crate at 9:00 PM. During bedtime, Atlas woke up at midnight to be let outside. Once back in his crate, he started whining and howling again. This time, it wasn’t nearly as bad nor ear piercing as the second night and only lasted twenty minutes before he went back to sleep on his own.
I returned to work on Day 4. Atlas had no accidents on Day 4 as well. The day went by uneventful and smooth. When we put him to bed, he resisted and whined for 3 minutes, then tucked himself away inside his crate and fell asleep in 2 minutes. Atlas woke me up around 3:30 AM to take him outside.
No accident in the house, but Atlas urinated in his crate. Normally, this would not happen because my wife works from home and can let him out when he needs it. Unfortunately, she had errands to run and meetings to attend for the early half of that day. We can hear Atlas whine in our security cameras, but we were not able to attend to him in time. I also remember that he defecated but not urinated in the morning. Atlas seem to be able to hold his bladder longer. We put him to bed at approximately 10:00 PM and he woke me up at 4:30 AM to do his duty, so that means he held his bladder for 5½ hours straight.
Finally the weekend! It looks like Atlas should be able to hold his bladder overnight within a week or two. He woke me up at 5:00 AM to take him out. We sent him to bed last night at 10:00 PM, meaning he held his bladder for 7 hours, a new record. Today, I started a more systematic training regimen for Atlas, starting with basic commands such as “sit,” “come,” and “off.” These training sessions are 10 minutes long per day. Since Atlas is only 10 weeks old, his attention span is extremely short. I will train Atlas each command until he consistently understands them, then I will advance to the next command.
We’ve finally hit the 1 week mark. We put Atlas to bed at 10:00 PM last night and he did not wake up to go outside until 4:55 AM, that is 7 hours straight.
Atlas finally took interest in his small Chuckit! Kick Fetch Ball. We tried to get Atlas to engage with this ball since Monday, but he showed little to no interest in it. We haven’t trained him to fetch so at the moment, he’s delightfully chasing after the Chuckit! ball.
We know when he has reached his workout threshold if he lies down after reaching the Chuckit! ball. This usually takes 20 minutes of nonstop ball throwing and it guarantees us a 2-3 hour puppy nap. Matter of fact, we were able to enjoy a sushi dinner while Atlas slept in his crate!
Day 8 (today, January 20, 2020)
I am happy to report that Atlas slept through the night. As a matter of fact, I had to wake him up at 6:30 AM to take him outside and to feed him. We put him to bed at around 9:30 PM last night, so he had a good full 9 hours of sleep without needing to use the restroom overnight. Atlas defecated outside but only urinated a little and I knew this was going to be a problem.
Sure enough, in the short minutes that I placed him in the crate so I can have my coffee and get ready for work, no more than 15 minutes, he quietly unloaded his bladder on one side of his crate bed. This is an issue we will need to rectify as soon as possible. I’ll start by removing his crate bed and replace it with disposable potty training pad. I’ll also take away his blanket too. Just before leaving for work, I sent Atlas into his crate until I return home for lunch at 11:00 AM. Atlas seemed content and went straight back to sleep in his urine soaked crate bed.
Shortening His Sleeping Space with the Crate Divider
I returned home at 11:15 AM and took Atlas out to the backyard. He immediately urinated and defecated. I also took the opportunity to put his crate bed and blanket in the washer and wiped down his crate tray with odor remover. I also shorten the crate divider from ½ down to ⅓. Meaning Atlas only has room to stand up and to turn around. If he urinates in his crate, he will have to sleep on it and I don’t think he’ll be content with that idea. When the divider was set at ½, he was still able to urinate at one corner of his sleeping space and avoid contact.
I returned to work at noon just in time for my wife to return from her routine. She reported that Atlas went outside and urinated and defecated some more. I think we got Atlas’ potty training routine down so far and we’ll continue to monitor and supervise him. It’ll be a long road, up to six months even, before we can expect Atlas to be fully housebroken. Tomorrow morning, I will use the “diced carrot” trick to see how long it takes Atlas to digest his meal before passing it.
Atlas is Now Part of Our Family
Even though we are new dog owners, doing our due diligence paid off big time. Atlas arrived home tired just as we were from the long car ride. However, he adjusted quickly and adapted to our household the following days. Our first week as new dog owners started bumpy, but tapered out in a week’s worth. There is definitely an adjustment period since we introduced a new living being into our household that needs constant care. This includes waking up in the middle of the night to let Atlas out and pushing our bedtime two hours earlier. If you are new dog owners and are considering adding a puppy to your family, be well aware of this!
In a week’s time, Atlas learned his name. He also began to learn how to press the dog potty training bell (review on this product later) to tell us to let him outside, albeit inconsistently at the moment. Atlas has also learned a few commands, such as “come,” “off,” and “sit.” I am not surprised since the Doberman is ranked as the top 5 most intelligent dog breed. Atlas is truly part of our family and life with a European Doberman puppy is fulfilling once the adjustment period passes.
Most importantly, just seeing our son being happy with his new fur buddy is satisfying all in itself.
I will write another article 4 weeks from now detailing our 1-month update.