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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Your New Puppy FAQ
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:02 GMT
Last-modified: 12 Aug 1999
There are many FAQ's available for this group. For a complete
listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article
is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp
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in the body of the message.
This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below.
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
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Your New Puppy
Cindy Tittle Moore, email@example.com
Table of Contents
* Age to Separate from Litter
* Puppy-Proofing Your Home
* Puppies and Small Children
* Acclimatization and Socialization
* Don't Be Surprised When...
* Puppy Biting
* Reinforcing Good Behavior
* Crying at Night
* Health: Vaccinations and Worms
* Feeding Your Puppy
+ Feeding schedules
+ Dog food formulations
* Preliminary Training
+ Obedience classes
+ Around the house
A quick critical information list:
* Never hit a young puppy.
* Praise exuberantly.
* Be consistent with your dog, rather than harsh.
* Don't allow biting, but only correct after 14 weeks (yelp and
replace hand with toy before that)
* Never correct a dog after the fact.
* Dogs need new experiences with other people, dogs and places, when
very young to get socialized.
* Praise exuberantly.
* Dogs need successes and less correction before full maturity so
they can develop confidence.
* Train your dog in order to establish communication and give it
purpose, and make it tolerable.
* Dogs need to be in a dominance hierarchy with everyone; if you are
not above your dog, you will be below it.
* Praise exuberantly.
* Dominance over a dog is achieved with leadership, never harshness.
Some books that may help:
Benjamin, Carol Lea. Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way To Train Your
Dog. Howell Book House, New York. 1985. ISBN 0-87605-666-4. $15.95
She uses praise, contact, play and toys to motivate puppies, but
she does not recommend food training a young puppy. She does
recommend crate training and she also recommends sleeping in the
same room with the puppy. She provides methods to teach no, OK,
good dog, bad dog, sit stay heel, come, down, stand, go, enough,
over, out, cookie, speak, take it, wait and off to puppies. She
talks about canine language and talks some about mental games you
can play with your dog such as mirror games, and copying your dog
and having him copy you, chase games and even playing rough with
your puppy. Most training methods rely on the foundational
relationship between an owner and his dog, and this book provides
some ideas on establishing that relationship while the puppy is
Brahms, Ann and Paul. Puppy Ed.. Ballantine Books. 1981.
Describes how to start teaching your puppy commands. This is a
thoughtful book that discusses in practical detail what you can and
cannot expect to do with your puppy in training it. They stress
that by expecting and improving good behavior from the start,
later, more formal training goes much easier.
Monks of New Skete, The. The Art of Raising a Puppy. Little, Brown and
Company (1991). ISBN: 0-316-57839-8 (hardback).
The monks of New Skete have put together an excellent book that
discusses puppy development and the things that should be done at
the appropriate stages and why. First they follow a newborn litter
through its various stages of development and at each stage they
discuss what is happening. They discuss testing puppies'
temperaments and what you want to look for, under which
circumstances. They discuss briefly dog breeds, and how to find
reputable breeders. They then launch into a series of useful
chapters: housebreaking, preliminary obedience, laying the
foundations of training, understanding (reading) your dog, how to
become the pack leader, basic training, discipline, and general
care. A good bibliography is provided at the back.
Randolph, Elizabeth. How to Help Your Puppy Grow Up to be a Wonderful
Dog. ISBN 0-449-21503-2.
The April 1993 edition of Dog Fancy is a "puppy primer" and it
contains articles on how to choose a breeder, name your puppy, make
housetraining easy, introduce grooming and solve basic puppy problems.
It works well in conjunction with the Monk and Benjamin books.
Age to Separate from Litter
Puppies should not be separated from their mother and littermates
before 8 weeks of age. Many recommend 10 weeks minimum. This is
related to physical considerations such as weaning and psychological
considerations such as the puppy's readiness to leave the litter.
Many breeders believe it is best to NOT have two puppies together.
They tend to bond to each other and not to you and that can cause
serious problems when it comes time to train them. Having two puppies
needing housetraining at the same time can make that process go on for
much longer. This implies that you would not introduce a second dog
before the other six months old and properly trained.
There are always exceptions, of course, and there are many happy dogs
dogs that were littermates or otherwise puppies together out there.
Puppy-Proofing Your Home
You should consider that a puppy has an absolute right to chew
whatever they can get at in your absence. You must put the puppy where
either it cannot do any damage, or you do not care about the possible
damage. Puppies can eat kitchen cabinets, destroy furniture, chew on
carpet, and damage a wide variety of other things. Besides the
destruction, the puppy may well injure itself, even seriously.
A good solution to this is a crate. A crate is any container, made of
wire mesh or plastic, that will hold the puppy comfortably, with
enough room to stand and curl up and sleep, but not too much that it
can eliminate in one corner. See the section on housetraining below.
Other solutions include fencing off part of the house, say the kitchen
or garage or building an outside run. Be sure the area is
Please put your pup in an environment it can't destroy. Puppies are
too immature to handle temptations. Depending on the breed, most dogs
begin to gain the maturity to handle short stints with mild
temptations when they're about 6 months old. Consider the analogy with
a baby, where you keep it in a crib, stroller, or pen if you are not
It is essential to puppy-proof your home. You should think of it in
the same way as child-proofing your house but be more thorough about
it. Puppies are smaller and more active than babies and have sharp
teeth and claws. Things of especial concern are electric wires. If you
can get through the puppy stages without having your pup get a shock
from chewing a wire you are doing a great job! When puppy proofing
your home, get down on your hands and knees (or lower if possible) and
consider things from this angle. What looks enticing, what is
breakable, what is sharp, etc. The most important things are watching
the puppy and, of course, crating it or otherwise restraining it when
you can't watch it.
Another step in puppy proofing is house proofing the puppy. Teach it
what is and isn't chewable. The single most effective way to do this
is by having a ready supply of chewable items on hand. When the puppy
starts to chew on an unacceptable item (be it a chair, rug, or human
hand), remove the item from the puppy's mouth with a stern, "NO!" and
replace it with a chew toy and praise the puppy for playing with the
toy. If you are consistent about this, the puppy will get the idea
that only the things you give it are to be chewed on! Don't stint on
the praise, and keep the "No!" to a single calm, sharp noise -- don't
yell or scream the word.
There are some products that can help make items unpalatable and thus
aid in your training. Bitter Apple and Bitter Orange (available at
most pet stores) impart a bitter taste to many things without
staining, etc. You should not depend on these products to keep your
puppy safe, but use them as a training aid.
A short checklist:
* Breakables up out of reach
* All wiring and cords put out of reach behind furniture, or encased
in hard plastic flexible tubing (available at hardware stores, can
be cut to size) to slow puppy down
* Anything small enough to be swallowed (pennies, bounce balls,
shoelaces, bits of paper, socks, nuts, bolts, wire) removed from
* Block access behind furniture wherever possible
* Put childrens toys and stuffed animals away
Puppies and Small Children
Keep puppies and very small children apart or under close supervision.
Small children do not understand the need for keeping fingers out of
puppies' eyes or refraining from pulling painfully on their tails,
among other problems. So keep children 6 years or so and younger away
from the puppy until it is grown, for the safety of the puppy.
Teach your children how to approach a puppy or dog, to prevent being
jumped on. They should understand that they should put out their hands
below the pup's chin, to keep it from jumping at a hand above its
head. They should not scream or run away, as the puppy will then chase
There are several books dealing with children and dogs. Try Jack and
Collen McDaniel's Pooches and Small Fry, published by Doral
Publishing, 800-633-5385. This book is full of good suggestions for
teaching both children and dogs how to behave with one another.
Acclimatization and Socialization
Accustom your puppy to many things at a young age. Baths, brushing,
clipping nails, cleaning ears, having teeth examined, and so on.
Taking the time to make these things matter of fact and pleasant for
your puppy will save you a world of time and trouble later in its
For example, every evening before the dog eats (but after you have put
its bowl down), check its ears by peeking in the ear and touching it
with your fingers. Do this every evening until the dog stops fussing
about it. Continue to do it and you'll always know if your dog's ears
Brushing is important, especially for double coated or long-haired
dogs when they begin to shed. A little effort now to get your puppy to
enjoy brushing will save you a lot of trouble later when it begins to
shed and shed and shed...
During your puppy's first year, it is very important that it be
exposed to a variety of social situations. After the puppy has had all
its shots, carefully expose it to the outside world. Take it to
different places: parks, shopping centers, schools, different
neighborhoods, dog shows, obedience classes--just about anywhere you
can think of that would be different for a little puppy. If the puppy
seems afraid, then let it explore by itself. Encourage the puppy, but
be firm, not coaxing. If you want to take the pup in an elevator, let
it try it on its own, but firmly insist that it have the experience.
Your favorite dog food and supply store (unless it's a pet store) is a
good place; dog shows are another. You want the pup to learn about the
world so that it doesn't react fearfully to new situations when it is
an adult. You also want it to learn that you will not ask it to do
anything dangerous or harmful. Socializing your dog can be much fun
for you and the dog!
Do not commit the classic mistake made by many owners when their dogs
exhibit fear or aggression on meeting strangers. DO NOT "soothe" them,
or say things like "easy, boy/girl," "it's OK..." This serves as
REINFORCEMENT and ENCOURAGES the fear or growling! Instead, say "no!"
sharply and praise it WHEN IT STOPS. Praise it even more when it
allows its head to be petted. If it starts growling or backing up
again, say "no!" Be a little more gentle with the "no" if the dog
exhibits fear, but do be firm. With a growling dog, be much more
emphatic and stern with your "no!"
If you are planning to attend a puppy class (and you should, they are
not expensive) ask the instructor about her/his views before you sign
up. If socialization is not part of the class, look elsewhere.
The Art of Raising a Puppy has many valuable tips and interesting
points on the subject of socializing puppies.
Don't Be Surprised When...
Your puppy doesn't seem to pick up the idea of whining at or going to
the door to tell you it needs to go to the bathroom. Many puppies do
not begin this behavior until they are four or five months old.
Your puppy does not seem to pick its name up quickly. Sometimes it
takes several weeks before you consistently get a reaction when you
say its name. (Be careful not to use its name in a negative sense!
Clap or shout instead.)
Your puppy does not seem to be particularly happy with verbal praise.
You need to pair verbal praise with physical praise for a few months
before your puppy understands and appreciates verbal praise.
Your puppy falls asleep in the middle of some other activity. Puppies
need lots of sleep but since they are easily distracted, they
sometimes forget to go to sleep and so will fall asleep at bizarre
times: while eating, chewing, or even running.
Your puppy twitches while sleeping. This indicates healthy neural
development. Twitching will be most pronounced for the first few
months of the puppy's life, and slowly diminish thereafter. There are
many adult dogs that continue some twitching. Expect muffled woofs and
snuffling noises, too.
Your puppy hiccups. Many puppies hiccup. The only thing to do is wait
for them to pass. Don't worry about it, they will outgrow it.
Courtesy of Joel Walton, firstname.lastname@example.org:
If you watch a litter of puppies playing, you will notice that they
spend much of their time biting and grabbing each other with their
mouths. This is normal puppy behavior. When you take a puppy from the
litter and into your home, the puppy will play bite and mouth you.
This is normal behavior, but needs to be modified so you and the puppy
will be happy.
The first thing to teach your new puppy is that human flesh is much
more sensitive than other puppies and that it really hurts us when
they bite. This is called bite inhibition. A puppy has very sharp
teeth and a weak jaw. This means that the puppy can cause you to be
uncomfortable when mouthing or puppy biting you, but can not cause
severe damage. An adult dog has duller teeth and a powerful jaw. This
means that an adult dog can cause significant damage when biting. ANY
DOG WILL BITE GIVEN THE RIGHT OR WRONG CIRCUMSTANCES ! If a small
child falls on your adult dog and sticks a finger in the dog's eye,
you should not be surprised if the dog bites. If you do a good job
teaching your puppy bite inhibition, you should get a grab and release
without damage. If you don't, you may get a hard bite with significant
It is simple to teach a puppy bite inhibition. Every time the puppy
touchs you with its teeth, say "OUCH!" in a harsh tone of voice. This
will probably not stop the puppy from mouthing, but over time should
result in softer and gentler puppy biting.
The commands necessary to teach a puppy NOT to mouth, are easy and
fun. Hold a small handful of the puppy's dry food, say "take it" in a
sweet tone of voice, and give the puppy one piece of food. Then close
the rest of the food in your hand and say "off" in that same sweet
tone of voice. When the puppy has not touched your hand for 3 to 5
seconds, say "take it" and give the puppy one piece of food. We are
teaching the puppy that "off" means not to touch. You should do this
with the puppy before every meal for at least 5 minutes.
After a couple of weeks of the above training, here is how you are
going to handle puppy biting or mouthing:
Unexpected mouthing (you don't know the puppy is going to mouth, until
you feel the puppy's teeth):
Expected mouthing (you see the puppy getting ready to mouth you):
You say "OFF" before the puppy can mouth you.
The puppy is mouthing you because of a desire to play.
You have to answer the question, "Do I have time to play with
the puppy now ?" If you do, then do "sit", "down", "stand" or
other positive 'lure and reward' training. If the answer is
"No, I don't have time for the puppy, right now." then you need
to do a time out (crate, or otherwise confine the puppy, so the
puppy can't continue to mouth you and get in trouble.
The above training methods have been modified from information that I
learned from Dr Ian Dunbar in his puppy training seminars and from his
excellent video 'Sirius Puppy Training' which is available by calling
Reinforcing Good Behavior
Puppies want attention. They will do a lot to get that attention --
even if it is negative! Thus, if you scold your puppy for doing things
you don't want it to do, and ignore it when it is being good, you are
reinforcing the wrong things. Ignore the bad things (or stop it
without yelling or scolding) and enthusiastically praise it when its
doing what you want, even if it's as simple as sitting and looking at
you, or quietly chewing one of its toys. This can be difficult to do,
as it is essentially reversing all your normal reactions. But it is
very important: you will wind up with a puppy that pays attention to
you and is happy to do what you want, if it understands you.
Crying at Night
Your puppy wants to be with the rest of the "pack" at bedtime. This
behavior is highly adaptive from the standpoint of dog behavior. When
a puppy becomes separated from its pack it will whine, thereby
allowing it to be found and returned to the rest of the group. This is
why so many books on puppies and dog behavior strongly recommend that
you allow your puppy/dog to sleep with you in your room to reduce the
liklihood of crying at night.
Try moving the crate into your bedroom. If your puppy whines, first
make sure it doesn't have to go outside to eliminate. This means
getting up and taking it outside. If it whines again, or doesn't need
to go outside, bang your hand on the crate door and say something like
"NO, SLEEP" or "NO, QUIET". If the puppy continues to whine, try
giving it a toy or chew toy and then simply ignore any continued
whining. If you don't reinforce the whining by comforting it (other
than to take it outside -- which is OK), it will eventually learn to
settle down. Also, be sure to have a vigorous play session JUST BEFORE
you are going to go to bed. This should poop it out and it will sleep
much more soundly.
Alternatively, you can designate a spot for your puppy on the bedroom
floor. Keep the door closed or put a leash on it to keep it close to
the bed. When it whines or moves about, take it out to eliminate.
Otherwise, as above, say "NO, SLEEP."
Puppies that cannot sleep in the bedroom for whatever reason may be
comforted by a ticking clock nearby, and a t-shirt of yours from the
Health: Vaccinations and Worms
Newborn puppies receive immunization against diseases from colostrum
contained in their mothers milk while nursing (assuming the bitch was
properly vaccinated shortly before the breeding took place).
Initially, during their first 24 hours of life, maternal antigens
(passive immunity) are absorbed through the pups intestines which are
very, very thin during those first few hours (this is why it is so
important that puppies nurse from the mother during that critical
time). After the colostrum ceases (a day or so later), the maternal
antigens decline steadily.
During this time, puppies cannot build up their own natural immunity
because the passive immunity gets in the way. As the passive immunity
gradually declines, the pup's immune system takes over. At this time,
the pups should be given their first immunization shots so they can
build up their own antibodies against them. However, there is no way
to tell when passive immunity is gone. This is why pups should be
given a shot every few weeks (2 - 3 weeks apart and a series of at
LEAST three shots).
Picture a plot of antibody level versus time. Maternal antibody is
steadily declining. You just don't know the rate. At some level, say
X, protection from parvo is sufficient. Below X, protection may be
less than effective against an infection. In general, vaccine antigen
cannot stimulate the puppy's own immune system until the maternal
antibody level is below X. Let's say it is .7*X. Here's the rub. The
antibody level spends some time dropping from X to .7X. During this
time, even if you vaccinated every day, you would (in this theoretical
discussion) not be able to stimulate immunity. Yet you are below that
level of maternal protection at which infection can be effectively
Thus the importance of giving several vaccinations at 2-4 week
intervals until around 16-18 weeks. One maximizes the chance of
catching the puppy's immune system as soon as it is ready to respond,
minimizing the amount of time the puppy may be susceptible to
IMPORTANT: The last shot should be given AFTER 16 weeks of age (4
months) to be SURE that dam's antibodies have not gotten in the way of
the pup building up its own immunity (read the label of the vaccine!).
Up until 8 weeks or so, the shots should consist of Distemper,
Measles, and CPI. After that, it should be DHLPP (Distemper,
Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus). This is at
minimum: you may need to add other vaccinations appropriate to your
area, such as Lyme, Heartworm (actually a preventive medicine), Rabies
(most places), and so on.
You should keep your puppy away from all strange dogs. If you know
that a particular dog is current on its shots and not carrying
disease, then go ahead and let your puppy socialize. The same holds
true for people. Ask them to wash their hands before they play with
your puppy. It can't hurt and it could save you a great deal of grief.
As your puppy gets its shots, you can slowly add more and more
exposure to its life. But keep in mind this is an infant and needs
Worms can present a serious problem to puppy health. There is no good
way to prevent puppies from having worms, for a variety of reasons.
You should take your puppy in regularly for worm-testing. Worms can
interfere with the puppy's growth if left unchecked. Since it is very
common for puppies (even from the best breeder) to have worms from the
dam's dormant worms, you must take care to have your puppy checked
regularly when young.
Around 4 to 5 months of age, puppies will start to get their permanent
teeth. There are several things you can do, both to ease the pain and
control the chewing.
* Make some chicken soup (low sodium variety or make it yourself)
ice cubes and give them to the puppy.
* Soak a clean rag in water, wring it out and then freeze it
(rolling it up helps) and give it to your puppy to chew on.
* Soften the kibble a bit with water.
* Discourage biting on your arm or hand for comfort.
Puppies lose their teeth in a distinct pattern: first the small front
teeth come out. Then the premolars just behind the canines. Then the
molars in the back come out (and you'll see adult molars behind those
erupting as well). Finally the canine teeth come out. Sometimes the
adult canines erupt before the baby canines have come all the way out.
During this time, some discomfort, including bleeding gums is to be
expected. Your puppy will want to chew more during this period of
time, but it may also be too painful to do so (hence the suggestions
above). You will probably find few if any of the teeth your puppy
loses, as puppies typically swallow them.
Feeding Your Puppy
Premium pet food tends to have higher nutritional value. In
particular, foods such as Science Diet, Eukanuba, Nature's Recipe.
This means you can generally feed your dog a smaller amount of food.
Also, they tend to be highly digestible which means that there is less
waste to clean up in the yard. For these two reasons, many people feed
their pets premium foods over grocery store foods. But the decision is
yours and many healthy, happy dogs have been raised on plain Purina
There are two methods you can use to feed your puppy: free feeding and
scheduled feeding. Free feeding is when dry food is left out all day
and the dog eats as it wishes. Scheduled feeding gives the dog food at
set times of the day, and then takes it away after a period of time,
such as a half hour. In most cases, you are best off feeding your
puppy on a schedule. This better controls elimination when trying to
housetrain. In addition, many dogs will overeat and become overweight
on a free-feed schedule. But for other dogs, such as dogs with gastric
problems or older dogs, frequent small meals may be better for them.
If you are unsure, you may want to discuss your particular situation
with your vet.
Dog food formulations
Read your labels, know your dog food products. There are different
kinds of dog food out there. Some are formulated very precisely for
different periods in a dog's life, and what is appropriate at one
stage is not appropriate at another. Others are generically formulated
and are supposed to be OK for any dog under any conditions. This means
that they are formulated up to the growing puppy level. There is
nothing wrong with either approach, unless the generically formulated
dog food comes out with a "puppy food" version. These are packed even
higher with extra nutrition, etc, than the puppy really needs, since
the original formulation was already sufficient for the puppy.
If you are using the latter type of puppy food, many veterinarians and
breeders (particularly of larger breeds) recommend that you NOT feed
it for the first year as is recommended on the bags of food. They
recommend that you feed puppy food ONLY for the first two months that
you have the puppy at home and then switch to adult food. A good "rule
of thumb" is to switch to adult food when the puppy has attained 90%
of its growth (exactly when this is reached varies by breed and size).
The nutritional formulation (especially the extra protein and calcium)
can actually cause problems in puppy development. The problem tends to
be with growth of bones vs. growth of tendons, ligaments, and muscle.
The growth rates are not the same and so the connections are strained
and if the dog jumps wrong or is playing too hard, the connections can
be torn. This typically happens in the front shoulder and requires
surgery and several months of confinement to repair. The added calcium
in puppy food may deposit on puppies' bones causing limping.
This is not a problem with the more closely formulated foods that have
adult foods that are specifically labelled as unsuitable for puppies
or lactating bitches.
If the dog makes a mess in the house - slap YOURSELF. You didn't do
your job, and that's in no way the dog's fault. You let him down.
If you can't keep supervise him without help, tether him to you.
That way he can't "wander off".
The idea is to take advantage of a rule of dog behavior: a dog will
not generally eliminate where it sleeps. Exceptions to this rule are:
* Dogs that are in crates that are too large (so the dog can
eliminate at one end and sleep at the other end).
* Dogs that have lived in small cages in pet stores during critical
phases of development and have had to learn to eliminate in the
* Dogs that have blankets or other soft, absorbent items in the
crate with them.
* Dogs that are left for too long in the crate and cannot hold it
If the crate is too big (because you got an adult size one), you can
partition the crate off with pegboard wired to the sides to make the
crate the correct size, and move it back as your puppy grows. RC
Steele also sells crate dividers.
To house train a dog using a crate, establish a schedule where the dog
is either outside or in its crate when it feels the need to eliminate.
Using a mild correction (saying "No" in a firm, even tone) when the
dog eliminates inside and exuberant, wild praise when the dog
eliminates outside will eventually teach the dog that it is better to
go outside than in. Some owners correct more severely inside, but this
is extremely detrimental to the character of puppies. To make the dog
notice the difference between eliminating inside and outside, you must
praise more outside rather than correcting more inside.
The crate is crucial because the dog will "hold it" while in the
crate, so it is likely to have to eliminate when it is taken out.
Since you know when your dog has to eliminate, you take it out and it
eliminates immediately, and is praised immediately. Doing this
consistently is ideal reinforcement for the behavior of going out to
eliminate. In addition, the dog is always supervised in the house, so
the dog is always corrected for eliminating indoors. This strengthens
the inhibition against eliminating inside.
In general, consistency is MUCH more important than severe corrections
when training a dog. Before a dog understands what you want, severe
corrections are not useful and can be quite DETRIMENTAL. Crating
allows the owner to have total control over the dog in order to
achieve consistency. Hopefully, this will prevent the need (and the
desire) to use more severe corrections.
Housetraining is relatively simple with puppies. The most important
thing to understand is that it takes time. Young puppies cannot wait
to go to the bathroom. When they have to go, they have to go NOW.
Therefore, until they are about four or five months old, you can only
encourage good behavior and try to prevent bad behavior. This is
accomplished by the following regime.
* First rule of housetraining: puppies have to go to the bathroom
immediately upon waking up.
* Second rule of housetraining: puppies have to go to the bathroom
immediately after eating.
With these two rules goes the indisputable fact that until a puppy is
housetrained, you MUST confine them or watch them to prevent
This means that the puppy should have a place to sleep where it cannot
get out. Understand that a puppy cannot go all night without
eliminating, so when it cries in the night, you must get up and take
it out and wait until it goes. Then enthusiastically praise it and put
it back to bed. In the morning, take it out again and let it do its
stuff and praise it. After it is fed and after it wakes up at any
point, take it out to eliminate.
Make it aware that this is not play time, but understand that puppies
get pretty excited about things like grass and snails and leaves and
forget what they came outside to do! Use the same spot each time if
you can, the smell will help the puppy remember what it is to do,
especially after 12 weeks of age.
To make life easier for you later on, use a key phrase just when the
puppy starts to eliminate. Try "hurry up," "do it," or some similar
phrase (pick one and use it). The puppy will begin to eliminate on
command, and this can be especially useful later, such as making sure
the dog eliminates before a car ride or a walk in the park.
Don't let the puppy loose in the house unless it has just gone
outside, and/or you are watching it extremely closely for signs that
it has to go. The key to housetraining is preventing accidents. If no
accidents occur (ha!), then the dog never learns it has an option
other than going outside. When you are at home, rather than leave the
pup in the crate, you can "tether" the puppy to you -- use a six foot
long leash and tie it to your belt. That way he can't get out of your
site in the house and go in the wrong place.
For an idea of what this can involve, here is a hypothetical
situation, assuming that you work and it takes you about 1/2 hour to
get home from work:
* 03:00 Let dog out, go to bathroom, return to crate
* 07:00 Let dog out, go to bathroom
* 07:15 Feed dog in crate, leave dog in crate
* 08:00 Let dog out, go to bathroom, return to crate
* 08:15 Owner goes to work
* 11:30 Owner returns, lets dog out
* 11:45 return dog to crate, owner returns to work
* 17:00 Owner returns, lets dog out, go to bathroom, play (use
tether if necessary)
* 19:00 Feed dog in crate, leave in crate
* 19:45 Let dog out, go to bathroom, play
* 23:00 Let dog out, put dog in crate, go to bed.
For a comprehensive discussion on housetraining dogs, see
Evans, Job Michael. The Evan's Guide for Housetraining Your Dog. ISBN:
Evans was a monk at New Skete for some years. He discusses all
aspects of housetraining puppies and dogs, giving many constructive
solutions for all kinds of specific problems.
Benjamin's Mother Knows Best discusses paper training in more detail
than is covered here.
It is essential for every dog, no matter how big, or small, or whether
you want to show, or work, or just play with, to have basic obedience
training. If you want to go beyond the basics, that's great. But at
least do the basics. One way to think of it is that without basic
obedience, you and the dog don't speak the same language so how can
you communicate? But with basic obedience, you can tell the dog what
you want it to do and it will understand you and do it. Another way to
think of it is getting your dog to be a Good Citizen: it doesn't jump
on people, or run off, or indulge in other obnoxious behaviors --
because it knows what you expect of it.
Find a good class and attend it. Many places have puppy kindergarten
classes; this also helps socialize your puppy. Do 10 minute training
sessions every day. And if you like it, keep going. You'd be amazed at
all the activities you can do with your dog once you and the dog learn
the basics! Training is fun and simple if approached that way. Enjoy
Around the house
Puppies can be started far earlier than many people believe. In fact,
waiting until your pup is 6 months old to start training it is VERY
late, and will be the cause of a LOT of problems. Start right away
with basic behavior: use simple, sharp "no's" to discourage chewing
hands or fingers, jumping on people, and many other behaviors that are
cute in puppies but annoying when full grown. Don't be severe about
it, and praise the puppy *immediately* when it stops. Tie the puppy
down in sight of people eating dinner to prevent begging and nosing
for food (if you put it in another room, it will feel ostracized and
begin to cry). If your puppy bites and scratches you when playing,
give it a toy instead. Give a good, loud *yelp* or *ouch* when the
puppy bites you. This is how the other puppies in the litter let each
other know when they have crossed the line, and it is a good way to
get the puppy's attention and let it know that biting is not
The other side of the coin is immediate praise when your puppy stops
after a "no". You may feel like this is engaging in wild mood swings
(and you may well get odd looks from other people); that's all right.
You're making your wishes crystal clear to the puppy. It also needs
positive as well as negative reinforcement: how would you respond if
people only ever yelled at you when you did something wrong?
Introduce things in a fun way without "corrections" just to lay a
foundation for formal training later on. Formal training, demanding or
exact, is not appropriate at this stage. Instead, concentrate on
general behavior, getting its attention, introducing things that will
be important later in a fun way, and some other preliminary things,
such as discouraging it from lagging or forging on the leash (but not
making it heel!). In sum, lay a good foundation for its future
development and behavior.
Your New Puppy FAQ
Cindy Tittle Moore, email@example.com