Hey Everyone! I want to start by thanking everyone here for being so supportive and willing to help new owners! I would not have made it through my first 3 weeks without you guys! To pay it forward, I wanted to share back what I've learned. I have a 16 week old Bouvier that is cute as a button and such a sweetheart! I've had her for 8 weeks now and things are going very well! Our in-house etiquette is amazing. Nipping and biting has almost stopped completely (she hasn't gone into heavy teething yet, but I know it's coming). Naps and sleeps are going really well! We're working very hard on socialization, as COVID has made that very difficult in my region. We're finally allowed to meet friends, so I'm starting that ASAP and getting her used to meeting new humans! (I know I'm late to that party, but we're doing the best we can with the circumstances.)
What I learned so far:
Go at your own pace: Training videos are extremely helpful and explanatory, but don't expect your puppy to do everything on the first try. Those videos are made to help, but also to get views and make the dog trainer look good. I fell into the trap of information overload and expected my puppy to pick stuff up on the first try. While she's really smart and often catches on quickly, it's unrealistic to expect her to be the perfect. Puppies also get frustrated very quickly, so keep training sessions short and if you see any signs of frustration, quickly do a couple commands they know very well and end the session. Don't get discouraged, it's just that their attention span is very short. Learn to go at your own pace.
Set firm boundaries and be consistent: DO NOT LET THEM OUT OF THE CRATE IF THEY'RE WHINING. My heart broke multiple times every day when I had to let my puppy cry herself to sleep. But stick with it, and soon enough, you'll have a puppy that goes in quietly and naps when it's crate time. Boundaries also passes into everything you do. Understand what you are allowing your puppy to do and what you will not allow them to do. If you let them on the couch today, they're coming on the couch tomorrow. If you feed them from the table today, they'll expect it tomorrow.
You are the boss: I learned this after about 8 days of letting my puppy tear around the house like crazy, that she needs enforced naps and structured play, training, and nap time. I learned that I had to take back control of my/our lives and add the structure that she needed. Having a schedule is key. Puppies need SOOO much sleep. If they are going crazy looking for something to get into, it's probably nap time.
Patience is key: Puppies are short sighted and have no attention span. Their brain is also a blank canvas that we need to shape and educate on literally EVERYTHING. They'll learn quickly, but will have no preconception of anything. Be very patient with new behaviours and keep your patience as best as you can.
What you give your puppy, you get back 10-fold: If you give them calmness, you will get calmness. If you give them jumping around and going crazy, you will get jumping around and going crazy.
If you don't already have a puppy:
Use the same blanket everywhere for the first couple weeks: I did this by accident, but it helped so much! We had a blanket over my gf's lap when we brought the dog in the car on the way home. When we got home, I threw it in the door of the crate just to get it out of the way, and what do you know?... 5 minutes later she's lying on it, in the crate!
Throw all your expectations out the window: Literally everything. Your world is going to flip on its head. For the first couple weeks you'll feel like you have no time for yourself or anything else in your life. You will have this little scared puppy that quickly turns into a landshark and wants to bit everything and everyone. This is normal! No matter how many videos I watched and research I did, I didn't find any where that explained how to actually live with a puppy for 24 hours/day lol. Don't worry, you'll figure it out, but it's nothing like you expected.
Make sure your entire household is on board: Ensure that everyone in the house is ready to get a puppy and that you're all on the same page about training techniques. Puppies need consistency and everyone should be in agreement of how to treat the puppy. This is down to crate training, obedience training, capturing calmness training, what is allowed during play, what to do when the puppy is acting up, etc..
Potty and crate training happen as soon as you get home: Take the puppy out every hour and give them treats when they go potty. Start playing in and out of the crate, giving them treats in the crate. Closing the door and walking away for 2 seconds, opening the door and continue playing. Get them used to the sound of the door closing and opening. They'll whine when it's nap time, and that is normal. They will fall asleep soon enough. It's SOOOO hard to crate train, but it will go fastest if they start on day 1.
These are just the things that worked for me. I'm happy to share my experiences, but all dogs are different and figure out what works for you :)
If you have any more notes for new and future pawrents, feel free to share!! I appreciate everyone here who's shared their experiences, as I learned so much from them.