Providing a Safe Place - crate training your puppy

blondie020-2841626694 27b79b2d36 bBark Busters recommend a crate for your puppy. Some people see this as cruel as to them it looks like a prison. It really isn’t. Your puppy needs a place to feel safe. Providing a crate gives him this safety. He is safe from kids, strangers, other animals and he is also safe from getting into mischief around the house if left to wander, unsupervised. A crate is also a great tool for minimizing any accidents as dogs prefer to eliminate away from their sleeping area.  It also provides a safe place for travel, keeping your puppy secure in the car and providing a safe place to sleep when in a new environment, e.g. when taken away with you on holiday. 

When choosing a crate, it should be big enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around in and stretch out when lying down.  Any larger and you may find your dog toileting in a corner where he does not sleep. For puppies that will grow into larger dogs either buy a puppy sized crate and buy a larger crate when older or partition the crate so his space feels snug. 

Put your crate in a quiet corner of your house, like a spare room or office. It should not be positioned in an area of high traffic or activity.  Cover the back, top and sides with a blanket but leave the front of the crate open and uncovered. Your pup may try to pull the covering through the bars and chew on it, in which case buy a purpose made cover which is designed so a puppy cannot pull on it.  This small dark place will make him feel right at home in no time at all.

Initially, leave the crate door open until your puppy starts to trust his new environment. Put a bed, toys, and food treats inside to make it more enticing and enjoyable. Allow your puppy to go in and out to have as many positive experiences with his new den as possible.

Begin shutting the door while he’s enjoying some food or a toy and at night to sleep. For young puppies, ensure they are allowed out for toileting purposes as they have yet to develop the control they need to spend all night in their crate. Begin to put him into his crate at various times while you are home so he doesn’t associate it only with you leaving the house. Use a word like “go to bed," said in a light tone, as you lead him to his crate. Praise him for going in.

Don’t allow whining or barking to dictate when he comes out. Let him out only when he is calm and relaxed. If your puppy starts to cry or whine it’s important not to feel tempted to comfort him. This will teach your puppy that he gets attention from crying and whining and will encourage him to do it all the more. Leaving a radio on at low level is a good way of providing background noise for your puppy. Be patient, it could be a few nights before your puppy stops crying and whining but by being consistent this soon disappears.

DO NOT USE THE CRATE TO DEAL WITH BAD BEHAVIOUR.  It is meant to be your dog’s safe place and he will not understand the connection between his bad behaviour and being put into his crate for "time out".

If you decide you do not want to use a crate then you should still create a safe place for your puppy to go to.  Either use a small space such as a utility room or create a barricade around his bed at night if in a large space so your puppy cannot wander unsupervised.  A good alternative is a simple collapsible puppy play pen that can be set up around the bed at night.     

 Toilet Training/House Training

Toilet training should start as soon as you get home with your new puppy.  Do not train your puppy to go on puppy pads.  You will be doubling your work, first training him/her to use the pads and then later to go outside.  It is also confusing for a puppy if you want your puppy to go inside on pads and outside when you take them out.  They are, however, useful for protecting areas from puddles. 

True reliability usually arrives somewhere between six and eight months of age from the point of view of a dog really knowing and being able to control their bodily functions. Your pup will/can be clean way before that but that success will be due to your use of routine and prevention rather than to his full understanding of what is expected.

To approximate how long before your puppy may need to toilet, use an hour per month of age. For instance, an 8-week-old puppy will need to go at least every 2 hours whereas an 8-month-old pup may last up to 8 hours. However, this really is an approximation as some very young puppies will need to go as often as every half an hour when they are awake and busy simply being puppies.

flickrpuppysniffingMost puppies do not give a warning – they simply squat, but some do so watch for signs of impending urination or defecation. These include

  • Wandering away from you
  • Sniffing the floor
  • Restlessness possibly including whining and panting
  • Circling

Be aware that there are times when you can be sure that they will need to go:

  • On waking in the morning or after a nap
  • After exuberant play (and this could include chewing heavily on a toy)
  • After you return – this includes you coming back from elsewhere in the house to let your dog out of their crate
  • Before going to bed
  • After drinking/eating

When training your puppy to go outside to relieve himself, take him to where you want him to go, stay with him and praise him when he performs. Please note that a male puppy sometimes takes longer to perform than a female. When he starts to toilet, in a nice voice, say “go toilet” or “busy, busy” or “quick, quick”. Being consistent with the words you choose and saying each time he toilets, will help him soon learn that this word means to go to the toilet. Stay with him outside until he has done his toileting. When he has done his business give him plenty of praise for the good that he has done

NEVER scold or rub his nose in any mistakes as this will make your puppy fearful of you and teach your puppy to move out of sight or wait until you are not watching! Your puppy does not possess human logic, but will begin to form good habits through structured routines. Positive reinforcement when he does the right thing in the right place is the best and quickest training method.  If you have got it wrong and your pup is peeing in the wrong place you may be able to "interrupt" him. When he begins to pee move quickly and pick him up immediately. You will startle him little as you move towards him and it tends to stop the process.  You can then take him out to finish and reward him (NB: this doesn't work with pooing - just let him finish and clean it up).  Don't raise your voice (although we naturally want to yell "noooooo").  The act of picking him up is enough.  You do not want to scare your puppy.

Many people are surprised, having taken their puppy out for a walk, to find their puppy relieving itself as soon as they get back indoors. To avoid this, walk the puppy directly to his toilet area. Stand still and stay with him, allowing the puppy to lose interest in you. Do not sit down as this will only encourage the pup to jump on you and forget what he is out there for. Praise him if he performs. 

Puppy Nutrition and Water

freeimage-18675600PORTRAIT OF CUTE SIBERIAN HUSKY PUPPY by Melis82 It is important to make sure that there is plenty of clean fresh water on hand. Always make sure that the drinking bowl is cleaned every day, so as not to encourage bacteria, and that the water is replaced at a minimum of once per day.

The subject of nutrition is wide and varied. For further information on GOOD NUTRITION FOR YOU PUPPY CLICK HERE whichever type of food you eventually decide on, it is important to stick to it until he settles into it. We recommend feeding your puppy three times a day until he is 12 months old. Then cut it back to twice per day from then on.

There is much debate as to when to cut your dogs' food back to twice per day but at Bark Busters we feel that during the first 12 months your dog is still growing. He’s going through his teenage years if you like (in human terms), and during this time he has growth spurts. We feel that it is important to make sure he has the proper nutrition whilst he is going through this time.

Research the amount of food per day that your dog will need. There are many factors that can influence this; breed, size, exercise regime etc and then divide this into 3 and feed your dog at regular times during the day. 

Whatever food you have chosen for your puppy leave the bowl down for about ten to fifteen minutes until he has finished eating. If there is any food left and he has moved away from the bowl then pick the bowl up. Don’t leave it down for him. Leaving the bowl down for him to pick at in between feeding times could lead to an overweight dog. If he’s eaten all he can, then pick it up. If he is leaving food every time he eats then you could cut the amount back a little. It is also important to take into consideration the amount of treats he is getting each day too. If you are feeding treats then remember that these also make up his daily amount. Some treats can be extremely high in sugar and can easily lead to an overweight dog if not regulated.  Research what treats you give your dog as thoroughly as you do his food. 

Puppy Vaccinations and Health Checks

© Melis82 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos If you haven’t used a Vet before then click here to find advice on how to select one from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.  It is important to get your puppy vaccinated prior to taking him outside. Ask the breeder if they have had the first course of vaccinations. Don’t guess. It is important to get your puppy vaccinated and it is also important not to over vaccinate him also. Once he has had the recommended course of vaccinations as prescribed by your Vet then it is safe to take him outside for his walks. It is always advisable to get your Vet to check him out for any obvious signs of ill health too. It’s better to get him checked sooner rather than later so any problems can be quickly remedied, or you may have recourse from the breeder if there are any major problems.

We recommend that you simulate the examination process for your puppy a couple of times per week. Check his ears, paws, under his belly and around his rear end. This not only helps to quickly identify any problems which may occur but it also helps to condition him to being handled and for it to become second nature when someone touches his sensitive areas.

Consider carefully what insurance cover you want for your puppy and put this insurance in place for the day your puppy comes home with you.  It is not uncommon for a new puppy to need immediate Vet attention and if you have proper insurance cover you will have the peace of mind of knowing you will have the Veterinary care you need.  You can either search for pet insurance direct or there are several search companies that will get quotes from insurers for you based on your puppy’s breed and age. 

Neutering and Spaying

Neutering is mainly a lifestyle choice for the human. Peace of mind that a bitch will not become pregnant and if a male dog escapes and mates then the instinct is strong to keep escaping to mate again. There are some benefits of neutering to curb some behaviour problems, such as exhibiting sexual behaviour in male dogs, but ultimately the choice is with the owner.

You should also take into consideration if you intend to breed with your dog in later life. For example, if you intend to show your dog, or use him for agility or specific work then you may want to put him out for stud later in life.  It has recently become common to spay a bitch before her first season, however, there is some indication that this can lead to incontinence in later life

Puppy Socialisation

flickrpuppysocialIt is important to start to socialise your puppy after a day or so of bringing him home. During the first sixteen weeks of his life, your puppy is learning to associate what he feels are good things and bad things. Make the whole event of socialisation a positive process. You could use a treat from a person he doesn’t know to make the meeting process an enjoyable event for him.  The more different people who will stroke him, touch him and socialise with him the better but be careful not to overwhelm him.  Although socializing with humans is the most important, you should also socialise him with other dogs but make sure to find a calm dog that will not overwhelm him too much or become aggressive, as this could send him the wrong signal from an early age. Once he’s had his vaccinations you can show him all of the different sights and sound that being outside has to offer.


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