So you Really Want a Puppy?
Congratulations on your decision for a new bundle of love and energy. For most dog lovers, especially first timers, the final decision came after much deliberation. Dog ownership is a long-term commitment.
If this is your first puppy, you will undoubtedly be just as anxious and curious as her/him. Let me reassure you, all your efforts will be rewarded when you welcome a playful new friend and devoted companion into your home.
Relax. With plenty of TLC, patience and a gentle manner, your new pup will quickly settle in and become one of the family.
There are excellent canine books and pamphlets on the market to help you with the necessary obedience training and health care. This was written specifically for litter box training.
THE VETERINARIAN. It is a good idea to make an appointment with the Vet as soon as you have chosen a puppy. You will want it to be seen within a few days of picking it up. The doctor will recommend the proper diet and set up a vaccination schedule.
PUPPY'S BED. If I were to pool the general public on my next declaration, I am sure I would have a long list of pros and cons. I highly recommend purchasing a travel kennel or crate until the pup is well paper-trained. Consult your pet store for proper size.
Dogs by nature are den dwellers and the kennel provides just that. If you choose not to purchase a kennel, there are many other doggy bed options such as wicker (the pup will love to chew) plastic, cloth and bean bag style.
We followed the advice of many breeders, pet store owners and books and bought a travel kennel for Maggie. We made the cold-looking kennel more homey and comfortable by adding a clean soft (fuzz and anp free) blanket. I also purchased a foam teddy bear to replace her mom and pile of litter-mates. I made sure her growing space in the the crate was filled to provide her with an intimate and secure feeling.
I made certain the bear's eyes, nose and mouth were child-safe with larger buttons behind each and occasionally checked for chewing and loose parts. If the eyes or parts become loose, fix them. Your pup might choke.
I added a loud ticking clock tucking it under the blanket toward the back of the kennel, threw in a few dog toys and topped it off with a treat. Had the treat been chocolate, I'd have crawled in myself!
PUPPY'S OWN PLACE. Decide where her sleeping and "left alone" area is going to be. This should be one in the same as it will save you from moving the crate from room to room. We have Maggie's kennel in our bedroom and prop the crate door open with her water dish.
If your puppy is very young, its temperature will not be stable and may require extra warmth. Fill a plastic gallon milk jug with WARM water, not hot, wrap it in a towel secured with tape and place it in the rear of the kennel.
You must teach him that the kennel or bed is hers and it's where you want her to sleep. Of course once she is fully box trained, you may allow her her choice of resting areas.
Sources say the first twelve weeks are the most critical for a puppy. It is during these weeks that behavior and good habits are formed. Start your house training immediately.
There are few good things to keep in mind when house training your puppy. Accept that there will be some accidents and refrain from spanking and rubbing the pup's nose in it. It only adds to its confusion. Always remember, PRAISE PROMOTES POSITIVE BEHAVIOR in dogs and kids.
You should already have one set of newspapers near the pup's kennel or bed. If she is allowed to wander around the house, spread a second set in the room or rooms were you spend the most time. Then when you see her begin to sniff and circle for the right spot, the spot is near. Change the papers on a daily basis, tearing off a little soiled piece to add to the fresh papers.
A puppy has very little control over her bladder and will nearly always want to relieve herself upon waking, after eating, playing and before night time. When you see her begin to sniff and circle, pick her up and carry her to her papers. I suggest carrying the pup because she may not be able to hold it and walk at the same time. Tell her to "be a good girl/dog". If you repeat this command each time you take her to the papers, she will eventually eliminate on command. This will come in handy when she goes visiting or traveling. Wait for her to eliminate and praise her lavishly when she goes.
If you missed the signal and see her squat, raise your voice a little and say NO. Don't be harsh or spank her. She will quickly learn where her spot is if she squats and hears you shriek, sees you fly across the room and feels herself being whisked through the air to the papers.
There are a couple of training aides sold in pet stores. One is a liquid and the other a scented disposable diaper-type thing. Both products claim to attract dogs. I found that plain old newspapers worked just fine. I might add, if you haven't read the evening paper, don't lay it on the floor until it is ready for her use.
Keep paper towels handy and clean an accident spot with a neutralizing solution sold in pet stores or vinegar and water. Neutralizing the odor is important as each time the puppy passes a soiled spot she gets the urge to initiate that area again. I guess it is similar to what a sale sign in a great boutique does to me. Of course I don't bolt to the bathroom, I spend! If I spend too much, THEN I bolt to the bathroom. :)
Stool training is a little different. We found that in the beginning Maggie never wanted to relieve herself where a particle of old stool remained. So, each time she had a stool we immediately picked it up with a tissue and flushed it. This still left enough of the scent on the papers for her nose and she didn't feel she had to find a new spot. Because we picked it up right away, she now tells us when there is something to go into the toilet.
When bed time comes, set the pup on her papers and give the command "be a good dog". Sooner or later she will understand what she is to do. Close the kennel door at night until she is paper-trained. When you get up to go to the bathroom or hear her whimper or scratch, carry her to her papers and let her walk back to the kennel. She will think it is time to get up and play.
The day will soon come when she figures out that the papers are where she is to eliminate. If you have used more than one set of papers, gradually reduce to one set and begin to move them three or four feet at a time to the future site of the litter box. If you move the papers too far at a time, she will go to the old site to relieve herself.
WHEN PUP IS WELL PAPER TRAINED SHE WILL: 1. Use only one set of papers located at the future box site. The size of the paper should now equal the interior size of the litter box. 2. Eliminate only on the papers when you are home and away from home an 3. Go directly to her papers without hesitation.
Like humans, puppies learn at different speeds. A lot depends on how much time you have to spend with her and how consistent you are with training. It is important that training be done in stages to prevent confusion.
Whether you use the litter box exclusively or when you are away from home, you will learn it is a welcome device. There isn't a pet owner I have interviewed that doesn't deal with rug accidents and worry about getting home to let the dog out in time.
Proceed to the next step only when your pup has mastered paper training. Don't be in too big of a hurry or all will be lost.
It is now time for the introduction of the litter box. Introduce the home constructed box or cat litter box by placing it at the site of the papers. Let her jump in and out and each time she does, praise her lavishly.
Line the inside of the box with a few layers of newspapers and add a scrap of soiled paper. If she doesn't jump in, place her in and tell her to "be a good girl". Stay with her and maybe she will squat and try it. If not, keep your eyes on her and when she heads for her area, be there to set her in if she seems hesitant.
Again, it will take her a few days to get comfortable with it. Continue to use the open box this way until there is no hesitancey. Change the papers daily or more often if necessary and pick up the stool as soon as you notice it.
Purchase a box of granular clay kitty litter. I use the HD as it clumps better and is easier to remove. Line the box with a plastic cat box liner. Fill the cat box to within one inch of the top. Lay the grate over the top (read directions to follow) and place a small soiled piece of newspaper on top along with a smudge of stool.
Don't make the mistake I did and think a pup can use the litter box without the grate! I hacked up dust for two days following Maggies little romp in the litter.
Now the pup will stand on top of the grate to go. I don't know if this will work with male dogs. I think lifting their leg is a part of being a macho pooch.
Set your pup on and tell her to "be a good girl" and see what happens. Maggie got the hang of it quickly. When the pup goes a few times on it, don't even bother putting the paper on, she will smell the urine in the clay and know where she is suppose to go.
The litter box should remain odor free if you feed your dog only dog food, scrub the grate once a week, remove the clumps of soiled litter daily and dump and replace all litter monthly. Toss soiled litter in the garbage..not the toilet.
I must share a story with you. When Maggie made her first long distant trip we had our doubts as to whether this whole concept would work. We put her litter box in the trunk of the car, covered it with a rug and put the suitcases on top. We spent the morning driving and when lunch time rolled around, we stopped at a restaurant and figured Maggie probably had to go. We opened the trunk, pulled out the suitcases then put Maggie on her box. Someone saw us and came rushing to the car yelling, "what are you doing to that dog, get it out of the trunk!" When they got to the rear of the car, they saw Maggie happily squatting on her little box and were astounded! Of Course, they thought we were abusing her.
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