Puppy Training

Jan 23, 2017

As veterinarians, some of the best moments are when we can help you welcome a new snuggly ball of fuzzy puppy love into your family.  Puppies are hard work and there are a lot of things to consider early on which will make an impact on the rest of your lives together.  I wanted to share some important points that are helpful for a blissful puppyhood.

  • The crate is your friend!  Buy an appropriately sized crate that is big enough for your dog to get up, turn around, and lay down but not so big that your puppy could urinate in a far corner and get away from it (the key is that they don’t want to lay in or next to a mess!).  Put the crate in a social area of your house and make it an inviting place.  Until your puppy is fully potty trained, keep them in the crate unless you are immediately supervising them to avoid accidents.  Avoid using puppy pee pads inside- this will confuse them and make successful training take longer.

  • If you catch them in the act of having an accident, you can negatively reinforce the behavior by firmly telling them ‘NO!’ and then putting them outside immediately and then praising the puppy when outside.  

  • Take their favorite treat outside with you- give them the treat IMMEDIATELY as they are urinating or defecating outside.   Do not wait until you get back inside as they will associate this with getting a treat for coming inside….not necessarily for doing their business outside.

  • Dogs are very smell-driven; therefore, if there is an accident in the house, make sure to clean the stains with an enzymatic cleaner like UrineAwayâ„¢ to get the smell out.  Remember, dogs have a better sense of smell than we do!  You can also soak up any urine accidents with a paper towel and put that paper towel outside where you want them to urinate so that the smell will encourage them to use the outdoors.  

  • Dogs discover their world through their mouth and this can equate to play biting with needle-sharp teeth!  When a puppy is biting you, they are playing, but we don’t want to encourage this behavior.  If they bite you, sternly tell them ‘NO!’ and then replace yourself with something appropriate to chew, like a toy.  If they continue, discontinue the play session for now.

  • Speaking of chew toys….We see fractured adult and puppy teeth quite often and almost every time, the culprit is inappropriate chew toys such as deer antlers, real bones, cow hooves, Nylabones, etc.  The rule of thumb is that if you can’t push your fingernail into the chew and make a dent in it, then it is too hard for your dog or puppy to chew on.   

  • Puppies are very commonly carriers of intestinal parasite and some of these parasites can be passed to people- Pick up after your pet!  Never leave stool outside, in your yard, or elsewhere.  Wash your hands frequently.   Eggs of intestinal parasites cannot be removed from the environment…so once it’s in your yard, it’s there to stay!  This is another reason why it is important to keep your pet on a monthly heartworm prevention like Heartgard or Sentinel because these products include a monthly intestinal parasite dewormer that will clear out most parasites that dogs can pick up from the environment.

  • Socialize, socialize, socialize!  Take your pet everywhere you can, as often as you can.  Expose your pet to everything they may be scary when encountered later in life- traffic, skateboards, wheelchairs, cats, kids, toys, loud noises, fireworks, the vet!, etc.  That being said, do not take your pet out in public (especially dog parks, pet stores, downtown, etc.) until he/she is fully vaccinated.  If you have friends and family with healthy, well-vaccinated dogs, please have play dates- just be smart about where you are taking your dog as many dog owners aren’t as conscientious as you are going to be!

  • Be annoying!  Play with their feet, squeeze their toes, trim their nails, put your fingers in their mouth, put your fingers in their ears, give them a treat and then take it away, etc.  You want this dog to be bomb proof and confident as an adult! Most behavior issues stem from inadequate training and socialization as a young dog.  

We are always here to help with puppy health questions, training referrals, and handy tips and tricks for a successful future together and are so grateful that you choose to spend your puppyhood with us at Hillcrest Animal Hospital.  

Dr. Stacy Logsdon