Since Emi's arrival to our home 11 months ago, we've received a number of readers contacting us directly through the 'Contact Us' form submission on this site. Thank you all for the kind wishes and sentiments! We've also received more general questions from readers who've stumbled upon this site and I usually like to answer them through a public post since it's likely that other people also have the same questions. Most recently, we've had readers contact us for advice on bringing home a new Shiba. The closest we've ever come to a blog post highlighting tips was back in April 2010, where I listed the Top 3 Training Tips we received from other people. Two years and two Shibas later, I finally feel comfortable dispensing our own list of must-dos when bringing a new Shiba puppy home. As a disclaimer, this is purely based on our own experience with Shio so please take this advice with a grain of salt!
1. Crate Training
This was a lifesaver for us when we brought Shio home. He was 3 months old when he came home with us and not fully potty trained and didn't know the house-rules so we crated him to keep him out of trouble when we couldn't watch him. He cried bloody murder in the living room for the first two nights that we crated him but we ignored him (sorry neighbors!). Shio adjusted to his crate quickly and it helped save our apartment during the potty training and teething process.
2. Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
Knowing that Shibas can be aloof, we had Shio meet as many people and dogs as we could. Most of the dogs were from our neighborhood and luckily very tolerant of puppies and allowed him to jump on their faces but corrected him whenever Shio went too far. By meeting and playing with so many dogs, he learned what was and was not appropriate behavior. Shio was stopped by a lot of people outside our apartment building because he was so little and fluffy at the time and socialized with adult humans in that way. We were more particular about the children that were allowed to approach him because we didn't want him to have terrible experiences with kids and kids to have bad experiences with dogs. In the end, Shio wound up becoming aloof as he entered adulthood but that's something that's our of our control.
3. Training and Exposure
It's never too early to train a Shiba puppy basic obedience commands. They're very smart and the sooner you train them to listen to you, the better. We also exposed Shio to as much as life as possible when he was young. From sitting on a park bench to bringing him down to the subway tracks, I took him everywhere with me so that he saw everything that I saw. He learned to master riding escalators, traveling on trains, watching fireworks, and shopping with me by the time he was a year old. We saw that Shio loves to figure things out by watching our physical behavior and the elements so we kept him busy by showing him everything we could.
4. Martingale Collars
Though there are many different opinions on collars/harnesses, we personally stand by martingale collars. We find it the best at helping us control Shio during walks and also the only type of collar/harness that he hasn't managed to slip himself out of when used and sized properly.
5. Set the Ground Rules
Rules of the home with a new puppy should be established prior to the puppy's arrival. Bullet point the rules on a list and post them on the wall in your home for every family to see and memorize. Nothing is more confusing to a puppy than mixed signals. For example, J and I established that Shio would not be allowed table scraps so we never gave him scraps from the dinner table no matter how much he begged. Correct unwanted behavior the moment that it happens even though the pup will inevitably be adorable when ripping the toilet paper roll to shreds. :)
Hope this is helpful to those who are bringing a new pup into their home.
Good luck and congratulations to you all!