Puppies need a routine and that's why I've written this puppy care guide.
It will help you to set up a daily care schedule to help give your new puppy the stability he needs to grow into a healthy, well-mannered, confident adult Cocker Spaniel. That can't be bad now, can it?
Until your puppy is fully house trained it's probably best if you keep him in a crate and/or a play pen when you're busy and can't be around to supervise him.
This way you'll be able to relax knowing that he's safe and that he won't be able to get up to any mischief if you take your eye off the ball!
Crating can also help to toilet train puppies more quickly (because they don't like to soil their own den) and it will allow you to take a little time out for yourself - and trust me, you're going to need it!
Don't worry if the schedule below seems restrictive. The activities and timings in my puppy care guide can be easily changed to accommodate your day.
As soon as you get up, take your puppy straight outside to see if he wants to go potty and give him lots of praise if he does the business. If he's already messed inside his crate, just clean it up without any fuss.
It's playtime! Your puppy will be very lively this time in the morning so it's a good time to begin teaching him to play with his toys. He may need to go outside again after the 'excitement' of play.
I recommend you continue to follow the breeder's recommendations, but generally a puppy up to 4 months old will probably need feeding four times a day; simply split his food allowance into four small meals.
If your puppy is crate trained, I recommend you feed him inside his crate.
As feeding stimulates the bowels, he may need to go out to do his business.
He'll probably want to settle down and go to sleep after his meal so let him nap for an hour or so. Either pop him into his crate or cuddle him until he drops off to sleep before putting him inside.
I know which I'd prefer!
As soon as he wakes, take him outside to his toilet area and encourage him to 'go pee pee' or whatever words you've chosen to use.
Have a little play time with him and if he tries to chew your fingers or your clothes, give him a chew toy to nibble on instead.
Introduce your puppy to his new collar and lead. (See this article on leash training your puppy, it will explain how best to introduce your puppy to his new collar and lead).
Put his collar on, attach a lightweight lead and gently lead him around your house (or at least the rooms you plan to allow him in).
Feed your puppy his second meal and then take him into the garden to 'go potty'.
Put him into his crate (or a dog pen) and let him sleep while you have lunch.
Put your puppy's leash back on and take him outside to pee. Once he's done the business, walk him around your garden or yard for a few minutes and let him explore.
Bring him back inside and let him play quietly in his crate (with a soft puppy toy) for a few minutes.
Feed your puppy his third meal of the day and take him outside again for a potty break.
More play time. If you have children, allow them to join in but they should remain relatively calm and quiet (if that's at all possible!).
Take him outside again for another potty break.
Time to sleep again!
Time for his final meal of the day.
Take him out for yet another potty break before letting have another nap, if he wants to.
Time to go potty again!
Quiet cuddle (perhaps one more potty trip?) and bedtime.
Getting your puppy through his first night is probably your first puppy care challenge, but don't be alarmed if he cries during the first night in his new home, it's only natural.
I know, it's heartbreaking to hear, but he probably will so you'd better brace yourself.
Think about it, he's away from all he knows; his mother, his brothers and sisters, and all the sights and scents he's (so far) grown up with.
But how you react to your puppy during his first night may have an impact on the following nights to come, ie how quickly he settles in, and it may be the deciding factor on whether you get any sleep or not over the next few days!
Here's a suggestion on how to get your puppy through his first night.
In addition to the above care routine, I recommend you introduce the following:
Continue teaching your puppy how to play with his toys, introduce him to a chew to and teach him that he can bite his toys but not your hands!
Socialization is a really important part of your puppy's development, and it's vital to begin (or continue where your breeder left off) as quickly as possible.
Take a look at the linked article and begin introducing your puppy to some of the categories mentioned.
More socialization! Take him out in the car, either in a carrier (to stop him from roaming and keep him safe) or have someone cradle him gently.
Continue with your pup's socialization program and do a little each day. Today introduce your puppy to different people and other children, better still why not arrange to take him into school to meet lots of kids.
When Max was little, I often to him to the local infants school just before start of class to meet mothers and their children so that he could be petted.
Did I mention socialization?
Puppies enjoy and need structure and routine in their lives and if you stick to a routine similar to this puppy care guide, you won't go far wrong.
It's okay to mix it up a little to suit your own circumstances, and once you get going you'll get a feel for what's right for you and your pup.
Continue with a little bit of socialization every single day (this is so important) it shouldn't be missed or delayed. If your puppy is properly socialized he will grow up to be a happy confident dog and less likely to develop behavioural problems.
Best piece of advice?
Continue with your puppy's training and socialization.
Praise him each time he gets something right. If he pees in the garden, praise him like it's going out of fashion. If he sits first time you ask him to, lavish him with praise.
If he does something you don't like or he gets it wrong, just say, 'too bad' and move one. Don't praise him, but don't dwell on his mistakes. He'll get it right next time.
Happy puppy parenting!