Archive for March, 2011

Leaving Puppy Home Alone

When you first bring your new puppy home, you’ll probably want to spend every waking moment with him. Everything he does is cute and even the not-so-cute things are quickly forgiven when you gaze into those soulful puppy eyes. But soon enough, reality sets in and you realize that you will have to leave your puppy at home alone.

Leaving Your Puppy in a Crate

If you’ve learned about crate training, leaving the puppy alone for a short time in the crate is easy enough. But what about when you need to leave for longer periods of time and don’t want to leave him confined in the crate? With some training and patience, it’s possible to do just that without coming back to a home that looks like a tornado ripped through it.

First of all, make sure you crate train your puppy. It’s something good not just for the human, but for the dog. With proper crate training, your puppy learns how to be calm and quiet in his own special “den,” viewing it as a good thing, not a punishment.

It’s never too early begin training your dog good behavior and obedience. Laying a good foundation of training, coupled with plenty of TLC is key to being able to leave your dog alone without having to worry about him destroying your home or suffering from separation anxiety.

With proper training, especially crate training, your dog learns to be alone without becoming distressed, learns to amuse himself with acceptable toys, and remains confident that you will return. When the time comes to leave the puppy alone in the house outside of the crate, you will still want to limit where the puppy
can roam.

When Your Leave Your Puppy Alone at Home

Ideally, you’ll want to block off one room or a section of a room. You can use baby gates or portable metal gates designed specifically for this purpose. Make sure you puppy-proof any area you leave him in. Don’t leave unsafe items on the floor, make sure electrical cords are out of reach, tucked away, or taped to the baseboard or wall.

I don’t suggest leaving the puppy alone outside of the crate until he is potty trained, but if you are going to paper train your puppy, you will want to lay down newspapers on the floor in case of accidents. He should have already eaten his meal and done all his potties before being left alone, and again, depending on his age and ability to control his potty, you may want to limit his water intake as well. You want to encourage him to be successful at being alone out of the crate.

If he is having difficulty with his potty training, continue with the crate training and do not leave him alone for long periods of time.
Make sure he is comfortable and has a nice bed to rest on, and some toys, especially chew toys. Many dog owners like the Kong toys because they are very durable and you can stuff them with treats so the dog has to work to get the reward.

If you can, try to spend some time before you leave, walking the puppy and playing with him. This will tire him out and he will likely spend a good chunk of time sleeping after you leave. You can also leave a radio or tv on to keep the puppy company.

Just as in crate training, you want your puppy to accept being in an area you designate as his without crying, whining, or barking. Don’t let him out of the area when he cries because it only reinforces his crying.
Instead, say firmly, “no” or “quiet” and walk away. Praise him when he is quietly accepting where he is and let him out only when he is quiet.

When you leave the house, don’t make a big production out of it. Spend a few minutes ignoring the dog before you leave . The same goes for when you return. It’s hard to resist a puppy that runs toward you with a joyful bark and a wagging tail, but you must! Ignore your puppy for a time after you come home and only let him out of his confined space when he his calm.

You might want to do several “dry runs” before you actually leave your dog alone. You can set it up exactly as if you’re leaving, then just get out of sight of the dog. You can increase the time you “leave” your dog so he gets accustomed to it.

Although it might be time-consuming and an inconvenience, you, or or your dogwalker, must come let the puppy outside for a potty break. Young dogs can’t hold off going to the bathroom all day. The rule is that a puppy can only hold his potty for the same number of hours as his age in months.

So a 3 month old puppy can hold it for 3 hours, a 4 month old for 4 hours, etc. At about 6 to 8 months your dog should be able to hold his potty for an entire night. During the day it is different though, and each dog is different. You need to be aware of your puppy’s potty habits.

After a while, your dog should get used to the routine of taking potty breaks in the morning before you leave, once during the afternoon, in the evening when you come home, and once again before bed. When your dog grows to be an adult, he should be able to hold off going to the bathroom for about 8 hours.

If you want to be successful at leaving your dog home alone out of his crate, make sure they are potty trained, puppy prooof the area, and don’t give them too much freedom too soon. As he grows older and can definitely go longer without potty breaks, you can increase the area you allow him to roam.

Eventually, you may be able to give him free reign of the home. Remember that like any training, you must be patient and go at a pace that your puppy can handle. Never move too quickly because of impatience. As your dog becomes an adult, all the training time you put in earlier will pay off.

He will be able to stay at home alone without anxiety, and you get to come back to a home just as you left it.

A lot of what I just talked about can be found in Quick and Easy Puppy Potty Training.

Taking Photos of Your Puppy

This post isn’t really about potty training your puppy. But, as the title suggests, it’s about taking photos of your puppy.

When you get a new puppy, you are going to be proud parents, and like all proud parents, you will want to take a lot of photos of your new pup. Photographing animals is a lot different than taking pictures of humans, or of objects that stay still.

Here are a few tips for taking that great photo of your dog.

  • Natural lighting is best for photos.
  • Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Get down to your pet’s level. Photographs looking down on your puppy aren’t interesting.
  • Try different angles, props, backgrounds, etc.

To read more, and really have success with your pictures of your puppy, you MUST read Tips for Great Pet Photos.

Caring for a Puppy With Diarrhea

I have had quite a few puppy owners ask me what to do when their puppy has diarrhea. You are trying to potty train your puppy, and a sick pup with diarrhea does not help matters. Your puppy cannot hold their bladder or bowel movements very long as it is, and now they may have to go out every few minutes because of an upset tummy.

First things first. Puppies like to get into things, and they often get into things that they shouldn’t. This is usually what causes the diarrhea, in most cases. With that said, it is always best to consult your vet, especially if you are not sure why your dog is sick. You must be aware that your puppy could have more than an upset stomach. Your puppy could also have giardia, worms, or other virus or infection.

Tips for Your Dog’s Diarrhea

Once you see that your dog has diarrhea, here are some helpful tips.  If you have already trained your puppy to tell you when he needs to go potty, take him out when he tells you he needs to go. If you have not trained him to do this, you must watch him at all times to read his body language. You will know when he needs to go potty.

A puppy with diarrhea may need to go out to go potty every few minutes. Be prepared for this. If you don’t want your dog to have an accident in the house, when they act like they need to go, get them out right away. When a puppy has diarrhea they have almost no control whatsoever. Don’t delay.

When you take your puppy out, examine what comes out of your dog. Look to see if there is anything in your dog’s stool that may tell you why he has diarrhea. I know this is a little gross, but you need to be a detective so you can help your puppy. The more you know, the better you can help him.

You might notice some blood in your puppy’s bowel movements. After many bowel movements, his insides will be irritated and may slough off some blood. If there are just traces of blood this usually means his bowels are just irritated. If you see a lot of blood, then you should contact your vet. They will most likely have you bring your dog in.

Another telling sign is your puppy’s attitude. If he is still alert and energetic, then he probably just has an upset stomach. If your pup seems overly depressed and is very lethargic, then it may be more than an upset stomach. All dogs are different and have their own characteristics when they don’t feel well. Since you and your puppy are still getting to know each other, you may or may not know how he acts when not feeling well.

Keeping Your Puppy Hydrated

Probably the most important thing is to make sure your puppy is drinking plenty of water. When a dog has diarrhea, he will lose a lot of fluids. You must make sure he always has fresh, clean water. Keep an eye on how much water he is drinking. Just watch the level in his water bowl. Your puppy should be drinking at least as much as he usually does, and possibly more. You can also add electrolytes to your puppy’s water to help keep him hydrated.

If you are worried that your puppy is getting dehydrated, then take a pinch of skin on his side, and make sure that it springs back within a second. If your dog is hairy, pinch the skin where there is not a lot of hair. If your puppy’s skin does not spring back, and just sits there in the pinch form, then check other areas too, just to make sure. If you determine that he is dehydrated, call your vet.

Fast Your Puppy

If your puppy has diarrhea, then the last thing you want to do is keep putting food back into him. You will want to let his system clear itself out completely. Stop feeding your puppy, and don’t give him anything for six to 10 hours. This means don’t give him food, treats, or anything except water.

Once your puppy has expelled most of his diarrhea, and you notice that not much is coming out anymore, you can feed him plain white rice, or plain pumpkin. Just make sure you get plain pumpkin. Don’t use any type of pumpkin pie mix, or any pumpkin with any sugar or anything else added. You can also add some hamburger meat or boilded chicken to the rice. Make sure it is lean meat, and drain all fat.

When you begin feeding him this diet, feed him in small portions. Feed a small portion and wait an hour or so to see how his stomach reacts to it. If he seems fine, then you can feed him another small portion. Do not feed more than his normal portion of food in total. Remember, this bland food is still richer than his dry kibble and can cause upset stomach if given too much.

This usually does the trick, and his stools should return to normal the next day. Once he is back to normal you can resume your regular feeding routine.

Your puppy’s attitude and keeping him hydrated are important guages to your dog’s health when he has diarrhea. Also, if your puppy’s upset stomach persists, then you want to call your vet. They can help you  from start to finish.

I will talk about crate training a puppy with diarrhea in my next post.

Do Not Use a Dog Crate as Punishment

Here is a scenario to think about. I am sure a lot of dog trainers have had this asked to them.

Dog owner: “My puppy doesn’t want to go into his crate any more. I don’t know what happened. He used to like his dog crate. I used it to potty train him, and I even fed him inside the crate, and he would sleep in it at night. I knew that he loved his crate, so when he acted up and misbehaved, I would put him in there to give him a time out.”

I would already know the answer, but I would then ask them this question.

Me: “So, describe to me the situation exactly when he misbehaves and you put him in the crate.”

Dog Owner: “Well, you know puppies can get crazy, and annoying, and get in your way. Sometimes, he just drives me nuts, running around grabbing stuff he shouldn’t, chewing on things he shouldn’t. When I catch him, I scold him and then put him in his crate.”

“Then, of course, he is all worked up and doesn’t want to go in, so I have to gently force him into his crate. Each time this happens, it gets harder and harder to get him in his crate.”

“Now, he doesn’t want to eat in his crate, he doesn’t want to sleep in it, or anything. What is going on?”

Of course, this is what I expected to hear from the dog owner. I would reply like this.

Me: “No need to say anymore. You began using the crate as a punishment. Simple as that. Your dog’s crate should never be used as a punishment. By doing that, you have created the situation that you have. Your dog has begun to view his crate as something bad, not something good, like it used to be.”

Bottom line, you should never use the crate as a punishment. You always want your puppy to view his dog crate as a safe haven, as his own place that he enjoys being in and where he will willingly go into. When you begin to use the crate as a punishment, he begins to learn that his dog crate is linked to punishment, and will want to avoid it.

Keep your puppy’s crate an enjoyable home for your puppy.

Bringing Home Puppy | Puppy Proof Your Home

Bringing Home a New Puppy?

You Need to Puppy-Proof Your Home

"Bringing Home New Puppy"

When you are bringing home a new puppy for the first time, there are some important steps you need to take to puppy-proof your home. Even though you will be watching your puppy’s every move when he is out of the crate or his confined area, they can quickly get into something dangerous.

Here are a few tips to puppy-proof your home.

  • Get down on your hands and knees to see your puppy’s point of view
    From down here, you can look around for things your puppy can get into. You will be surprised at what is down here, and how dangerous it can be for a little pup.
  • Restrict puppy access to certain areas.
    First, try to control the space within the home that the puppy is able to access. You can confine your puppy to a crate, use puppy gates, close doors, or use an indoor puppy pen. Use cabinet locks to keep your  preventing your dog from getting to toxic household cleaners.
  • Keep your toilet lids closed.
    Toilet bowl cleaners that are placed in the tank are toxic to your dog. Keep toilet lids closed so your pup does not drink toilet cleaning solutions.
  • Look for precious or dangerous items within reach of your puppy.
    From your puppy’s point of view, don’t forget to look up to see what they can get to above the floor. Puppies can easily get things off of couches, end-tables, t.v. stands, etc.
  • Eliminate clutter.
    Keep toys from being scattered all over the place. This will reduce the ability of your puppy to go potty in an inconspicuous place.
  • Pick your houseplants carefully.
    Some plants you think are beautiful could be poisonous to pets, such as some types of lilies or hydrangeas. Be sure to decorate your home with plants that are not toxic to animals. Cover the soil with heavy stones or wire mesh to keep your puppy from digging in the soil, or even going potty in it.
  • Close your windows .
    Dogs can push out screens and escape from the home.
  • Try to keep your puppy in an area of the home where there is no carpet. It is much easier to clean up an accident, if there is one, from a floor with a hard surface than from carpet. Once urine seeps into the carpet, it is almost impossible to completely get rid of the smell as it will often soak down into the pad below the carpet.
  • Keep all garbage cans out of reach.
    Your kitchen garbage should be confined under your sink, or simply out of reach. Your puppy can easily knock over a garbage can and make a mess and eat the garbage.
  • Try to keep wires, cords out of reach.
    Electrical wires and cords can be dangerous to dogs because they may try to chew or play with them. Keep cords short if possible and tack them up against the wall or underneath the carpet if they’re longer.
  • Safety is important as well.
    Do not leave your puppy in an area where he will need to run up and down the stairs. This can easily cause a small puppy to become injured. If you choose to keep your puppy on a leash in the home to restrict the areas he is able to access, make sure that you only allow three to four feet at the most to avoid having him become entangled in the leash.

This isn’t necessarily a complete list to puppy-proof your home, but by following these guidelines you should be able to catch all dangerous items that your new pup could get into.

Learn this and more by reading “Quick and Easy Puppy Potty Training.”

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