Getting a new puppy is an exciting and sometimes daunting time. We are here to help and all our qualified nurses have free puppy consultations, whether you have just got your puppy or thinking of getting one.
During the nurse led puppy clinics we can discuss equipment which you may need, what diet to feed, behaviour to ensure that you set off on the right foot and other issues such as fleas, worms, neutering and vaccination.
We hope to see you soon, plus we all like a puppy cuddle!!!
Toilet Training your puppy
Toilet training your puppy should be quite a simple process, as long as you take the time and trouble to get into a good routine.
Parents often don’t remember to praise their children when they behave well, yet will never forget to tell them when they do not. We tend to do the same with our pets. We ignore them when they are quiet and well behaved and pay them attention only when they behave inappropriately. It’s often best to do the reverse – praise and reward desired behaviour, and ignore the unwanted.
Puppies have very poor bladder control, and need to urinate at least every hour or two Initially, you will have to build your routine around your puppy’s needs which are predictable when they are very young. Puppies need to urinate immediately after waking up, so you need to be there to take your puppy straight into the garden without any delay. Eating a meal stimulates the digestive system and puppies normally urinate within fifteen minutes of eating, and defecate within half an hour (although this might vary slightly with each individual). They can urinate spontaneously when they get excited, so take your puppy out frequently if they have been active, playing or exploring.
It’s a good idea to keep a diary of when your puppy eats sleeps, urinates and defecates. Repeat cue words like ‘wee wees’ and ‘poo poos’ or ‘be busy’ and ‘be clean’ while the puppy is actually urinating or defecating. Use different words for each action so that you will be able to prompt the puppy later on. Always go with your puppy into the garden so you are there to reward and attach the cue words to the successful actions! Fortunately, puppies are creatures of habit, so as long as you introduce the garden to your puppy as its toilet area early on, you should be able to avoid most of the common pitfalls.
How to toilet train your puppy:
Unfortunately there are many reasons why ‘toilet training’ might not go as smoothly as it could, so make sure you do not make any of the following mistakes:
- Over-feeding. Feeding an unsuitable diet or giving a variety of foods. Not feeding at regular times.
- Feeding at the wrong times (which could cause overnight defecation).
- Punishing the puppy for its indoor accidents (which can make it scared of toileting in front of you – even outside).
- Feeding salty foods (e.g. stock from cubes) which makes them drink more.
- Using ammonia based cleaning compounds (which smell similar to urine). Expecting the puppy to tell you when it needs to go out; this is unrealistic, so it is better to take them out at regular intervals.
- Leaving the back door open for the puppy to come and go as it pleases (a puppy will think that the garden is an adventure playground, rather than a toilet area. Also, what is a puppy meant to do when the weather gets cold, and it is faced with a closed back door?).
- Leaving the puppy on its own too long, so that it is forced to go indoors (which sets a bad precedent, or even a habit of going indoors).
- Mistakenly associating the words ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy’ when they toilet, as opposed to the specific cue words. Guess what could happen the next time you praise your dog?
- Access to rugs or carpet (which are nice and absorbent – just like grass).
- Laziness on your part, resulting in more wees indoors than outdoors.
Submissive or excited urination on greeting (if this occurs, take your puppy outside before you greet it and tone down your greeting so it is less exciting or overwhelming).
It is unfair to expect your puppy to go right through the night when it is very young. Sleeping the puppy in a crate or puppy pen can help with house training but you should let it out in the garden to relieve itself during the night.
Many owners appear disappointed that their young puppy will not toilet when out on a walk, yet relieves itself the second it gets back home. This is because the puppy has been taught to toilet only at home (hopefully in its garden), and being creatures of habit, they often wait until they have returned home before evacuating their bladder and/ or bowels. To break this habit, you will have to get up very early one morning (when you have plenty of time), and get your puppy out on a walk before it has had its morning wee. You should not bring it home until it has been forced to go out of desperation. If however, you are unsuccessful, and your puppy has not toileted, then take it immediately into the garden on your return, or you risk it relieving itself indoors.
Please book an appointment with one of our qualified nurses who can go through any questions you may have, they also love to cuddle cute puppies!
CRATE TRAINING YOUR PUPPY/DOG
Why use a crate?
- A crate is a safe, secure area for your puppy to be, when you can’t give him your full attention
- It can help speed-up house training
- Its somewhere for your puppy to go when he needs time out
- It’s a secure den for your puppy to retreat to, safe in the knowledge that he can relax and won’t be disturbed. (You should ensure children and other pets leave puppy alone when he is in it.)
- It’s the perfect way to protect your house from damage, due to inappropriate chewing!
- A safe secure way to transport your puppy and keep your car clean!
- Acclimatises your puppy to a crate for visits to vets or groomers.
- Ideal to use for those breaks away, its familiar to puppy and the holiday home is safe from your puppy!
How big should the crate be and where should it be?
- The crate should be big enough for your puppy to fit in comfortably when he is fully grown, room to stretch out and have a water bowl and interactive toys in.
- You need to place it in a convenient, but quieter part of the house, so puppy can still see and hear what’s going on, but is able to relax as well.
- Also a good idea to have it reasonably near an exit to the garden, for quick access, or carry him out to the garden in the early stages to save any accidents.
Introducing the crate
- The crate needs to be as comfortable and inviting as possible for your puppy to build up positive associations with it. Put a soft towel or vet bed in the base, both easily cleaned. Always have fresh water available; place a couple of safe toys in the crate; a stuffed Kong is useful.
- Put some newspaper in the base, separate from the vet bed (half and half if possible). If your puppy does need to toilet and cannot attract your attention, he will not want to go on the vet bed, but will probably have used newspaper for this purpose before he joined your family. Change this paper each time it is soiled (wait until your puppy is away from the crate, do not comment or criticise the puppy for using the paper. He has to go somewhere if you are not available to let him out).
- Initially leave the crate door open so the puppy is free to come and go, use tasty food treats to encourage him – start with them near the door and gradually move them further back once he is happy entering. You can introduce a word such as kennel or bed at this stage, so that he can begin to associate the word with the action!
- Do not rush this stage – if your puppy is not happy to go into the crate, do not force him, that will set up bad associations. Take your time in ‘explaining’ to him that it is a safe and fun place. Most young puppies are very happy to go in the crate, especially if they have been used to spending time in a whelping box whilst with their littermates.
- Do this several times during the day. Feed him his meals in the crate. Stuff a Kong with tasty treats and put that towards the back of the crate, if he is comfortable at this stage, you can push the door too. Stay around at this stage and try to ignore what he is doing, so he doesn’t think it is a big deal.
- Depending on how comfortable your puppy is at the above stage you can begin to close the door for short periods at a time, always ensure puppy has been toileted before, so you know he won’t need to go out for a little while, also a good idea to have a little game with him first, so he is tired. Again use a Kong or put his meal in with him.
- Begin to go about your day as normal with puppy confined, if he begins to whine or bark, remember to ignore him. Only go back to him when he is quiet, if you go back to him when he is being noisy, he will learn to keep barking for longer and longer periods until you return!
- As long as you are careful to ensure good positive associations with the crate, your puppy should quickly become happy to relax as soon as he enters the crate. Puppies quickly learn to sleep through the night in the crate and are usually clean very quickly.
- On returning to the crate to let puppy out, try to be calm and not make it a really exciting time, this may lead to unwanted vocalising/whining as he anticipates his release!
- Take puppy straight to his toileting area to help speed up his house training.
Your puppy should not be left for long hours at a time in his crate, 3 hours during the day is a maximum. Initially he will need to come out of his crate frequently during the day (every half hour/hour or so) to toilet, but as he gets older he should be able to go for 2 – 3 hours before he is going to need to relieve himself. Once he is used to the crate, he should happily go through the night. If he does whine and fidget during the night, get up and take him to his toileting area, keeping it as calm and low key as possible and as soon as he has performed return him to bed.
The crate is not for use as a punishment, but can certainly be used for time-out if puppy has become unruly or is over-tired. It is also a good idea to use the crate at (human) meal times to avoid over excitement at these times; use a stuffed Kong with part or all of his meal to keep him occupied.