Archive for November, 2010

Crate Training as a Puppy Potty Training Technique

One of the toughest times a new puppy owner has to go through is when you first bring your puppy home and have to potty train him. This is something that takes time, patience, and a good sense of humor. The following technique will make that task a little bit easier on you and puppy.

Take Time to Crate Train Your Puppy

I think that one of the best ways to avoid the frustrations of new puppy ownership, and one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your new pet is to crate train him. Crate training takes some discipline, but it’s well worth the time and effort in the long run. It is probably the best way to potty train your puppy, and it will come in handy in situations like transporting your pet.

First, get your puppy an appropriate dog crate. There are plastic and metal dog crates available in different sizes. Choose the best size for your puppy, one that is large enough for him to stand and turn around in.
Don’t get one that is so large that your puppy can just go to one end of the crate and go potty.

You want your dog to view this as his new home or den. Dogs will avoid soiling their own dens. If you get a
large crate in anticipation of your puppy growing, just block off the back part of the crate. Remember to put a soft towel or blanket in the crate.

Encourage your pup to go into the crate with a treat and/or toy. An interesting toy, such a Kong filled with peanut butter will keep your dog engaged and happy in the crate. Leave the door open and praise him when he goes inside and stays there. Don’t force the pup into the crate. Remember, this new home is supposed to be a pleasant place for them, not a punishment. You can even feed your puppy in the crate to create a positive association for him.

When the animal is comfortable being in the crate, close the door and leave it closed for progressively longer periods of time. Begin leaving the puppy alone in the closed crate and gradually lengthen the time you
are away from the crate. Make sure that your puppy has gone potty before you begin this training. This is very important to avoid your puppy having an accident.

If your puppy whines, don’t immediately comfort him and let him out. That just teaches them that if they whine, they get what they want. Ignore the whining. (I know it’s hard!) Let your puppy out only when
he is quiet and calm. Remember, you had your puppy do all his potty before starting this training, so you know his whining is not due to this.

A well-exercised puppy will probably make it easier to crate train, so be sure to keep up a consistent routine of exercise and play. A tired puppy means a quieter, calmer puppy that will more than likely just curl up and nap in the crate.

When you do let him out, don’t make a big deal out of it. You don’t want your puppy to think that being outside of the crate is the better, happier situation.

One of the biggest challenges with a puppy is potty training. Crate training makes this task much easier to handle. Young pups need to eliminate every 2 to 4 hours. Let your puppy out of the crate and outside to go potty on a regular schedule, like first thing in the morning, after meals, and before bedtime. This teaches the puppy a routine that will last throughout his life.

When letting the pup out of the crate to eliminate, put him on a leash and go immediately to the potty area. Give him 5 to 10 minutes to do his business. If he doesn’t go, put him back into the crate. Wait for about another 15 minutes, and try again. Depending on your puppy’s age, when he ate or drank, and the last time he went potty, adjust your waiting time in between taking him out to do his business.

If he does go, praise him, give him treats, and play with him. You can even let him play in the house freely for a time, with your supervision of course.

Keep your puppy crated during the night. You will probably have to let him out in the middle of the night for a potty break, but that hardship won’t last too long. Puppies grow fast and soon he will be able to hold it for longer periods of time.

As for leaving your puppy in the crate when you leave the house, remember that young dogs need to eliminate every few hours, so arrange to come home, have a neighbor check in, or hire a pet sitter to make sure your puppy is taken care of.

Crate training your puppy is an excellent way to house train your puppy. And, when done properly, your dog should love his crate.

Don’t Leave Your Puppy Home Alone with Toys

When you get your new puppy, you will soon find out that they are very playful and quite restless. You will go to the pet store and find all kinds of toys for your puppy to play with to occupy his time. And, you will probably be inclined to give your puppy plenty of toys when you leave your puppy home alone, whether in his crate or in a pen.

Although toys are a great way to keep your puppy occupied and happy, remember that you have to be very picky about what you let him play with, especially if you have to leave him alone and when you are house training. One of my clients gave a puppy a Nylabone and rope chew toys. The puppy suffered a bad bout of vomiting and diarrhea during my first pet sitting visit, giving me a scare because there appeared to be blood in the vomit and diarrhea.

This required me to take the puppy to the vet. I had no idea what could have been wrong with the puppy, so I did not take any chances. After the vet examined the puppy and ran a series of tests, they determined that the dog simply chewed off and ate too much of his chew toy. I saw the rope chew, but I did not even find any of the Nylabone in their home.

This incident illustrates just how much care must be taken to supervise your pets when they are chewing. Every dog is different. Some barely gnaw at toys, and others try to devour them. Get to know your dog and his playing/chewing habits, and always supervise carefully.

If you must leave your puppy alone with a chew toy, make sure there is no possible way for them to swallow it, chew chunks off and eat it, or otherwise harm themselves with it.

Kong toys are pretty tough and when stuffed with peanut butter or other treats and they’re a great way to keep your puppy entertained. Just keep in mind, that if you stuff a Kong with treats and goodies, this may cause your puppy to have to defecate sooner. In your puppy house training, you should not leave your puppy alone for long periods of time, anyway. But, if you are paper training your puppy and have your set up done correctly, then your puppy will just do his business on the paper.

Another toy that claims to be pretty resistant to enthusiastic chewers is the Hurley Durable Dog Toy. It’s made of Zogoflex, a non-toxic recyclable material. Do a search on Google and you’re sure to find something that your puppy will have fun with and won’t be able to destroy. But no matter what the marketing material states for any toy, be sure to supervise your dog with any new toy to make sure what he can or can’t do to a supposedly durable toy.