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FAQ: Top Three Questions about Dog Care

1. How do I house-train my puppy or dog?

Three keys to training your dog to eliminate outside (where you want him to complete this activity) are supervision, prevention of indoor accidents, and rewarding of success.

Keep your puppy on a regular feeding and walking schedule.

He will need to (at least) pee:

o First thing in the morning;

o After every meal;

o After every nap;

o And after each playtime or when there is high-energy output (such as running around a table, chasing after another dog) when he slows down and starts to sniff the floor, take him outside immediately.

If you allow your puppy unsupervised time in the house, and he has an accident that you don’t observe, remove him from the area and clean the soiled area with an enzymatic cleaner.

If you are present and observe your puppy beginning to eliminate in the house, make a loud noise to interrupt the behavior and get him outside immediately.

If there is a specific outside area that you want your puppy to use, make sure to take him to that area every time.

You may need to pace with him back and forth to keep him in the area; movement helps initiate elimination.

Once he starts to eliminate, praise him calmly and encouragingly while repeating your “potty word,” such as “Gooood Potty.”

Reward your puppy with excited praise when he is finished.

If you take your puppy outside on his schedule and he does not eliminate, keep him in the area for about 3 minutes and then take him back inside and put him calmly in his crate or separate area and try again in 10-20 minutes.

Do not give him freedom in the house unless you are sure he is “empty.” Playtime is a great reward for successful outdoor elimination and is a big motivator for puppies.

2. Should I use a crate for my puppy or dog? How do I go about using a crate?

Because dogs are den animals, small enclosed areas are comforting to them and are not considered cruel. It is good to use crates to provide puppies their own space and to keep them safe.

Using the crate on a regular schedule teaches puppies to control their elimination impulses and limits a teething puppy access to whichever safe toys are left with him.

Some states require dogs traveling in cars to be properly restrained. In case of an auto accident, crates are safer for dogs than a seatbelt/harness system.

A dog that is restrained while traveling in a car will not become a distraction to the driver.

Your dog will be happier when his safe space travels with him.

A shy puppy will be happier in his safe space while watching you socialize with friends and visitors instead of being part of this activity.

Use the crate often during the housebreaking stage of your puppy.

The more often you use the crate throughout the day, the more quickly your puppy will accept being in the crate.

The crate should be a positive and fun place for your puppyyou need to make sure that he doesn’t only associate the crate as the he goes when you leave the house.

o You can feed him in the crate.

o You can store his toys in the crate so that he has to enter it to retrieve an item.

o Select special snacks that are only given to him while he is in the crate.

Never use the crate for punishment if you want the puppy to associate the space as a positive place.

o If your puppy is misbehaving or if you need him out of the way, it is okay to put him in the crate for a time out.

o It is important that you not act mad as you put him into the cratealways be calm and unemotional.  

Crate Type: Wire crates allow your puppy to be exposed to many more stimulations in the house. Many shy dogs prefer plastic crates because it provides more separation. If you want him to learn that crate time is quiet time, make sure no one bothers him when he is in his crate and that he is shielded from high-energy activities in the house such as social gatherings and children playing.

Crate Size: The proper crate size is one that will allow your dog to sit and stand without hitting the roof and on that allows him to turn around freely in the crate. You do not want the crate to be roomy while you are housebreaking; you want the crate to be small enough to motivate the puppy to hold it or to let you know that he needs to eliminate. Too much room in a crate will allow a puppy to eliminate in his crate and sleep away from it. If your crate is too large and your pup soils in the crate, use something to take up the extra space with:

Boot tray turned on its edge;

Refrigerator or oven racks;

Or use the removable panel that comes with some crates.

Bedding can be provided once the puppy can keep the crate clean for 7 days. If your puppy shreds or eats the bedding, take the bedding out. Your puppy does not need comfortable bedding in the crate and it often poses more of a hazard than a comfort.

3. If I think my puppy or dog has separation anxiety, how can I tell? What do I do?

This behavior is frequently mislabeled. Though the behaviors and symptoms vary, they usually include:

Eliminating in the house;

Anxious behaviors prior to your departure;

Destructive behavior;

Barking and/or whining;

And drooling and/or shaking.

Most likely, a dog that whines when you leave and is excited when you come home does not suffer from separation anxiety.

Elimination issues and destructive issues can usually be managed with a crate. In some severe cases, anxious dogs will do damage to themselves or the crate when they are crated and left. These severe cases should be referred to a trainer or veterinarian who is familiar with managing anxiety.

The best way to help your dog adjust is to make your arrival and departure less of a big deal. Repeat this motto: In like a thief, out like a thief.

Start ignoring the dog for 30 minutes before you leave AND for about 10 – 15 minutes after you return.

If you excitedly greet your dog when you arrive home, your arrival becomes a big deal to the dog and it can sometimes lead the dog to having a negative feeling or becoming mildly panicked when you leave.

If your dog cannot be crated, leave him in a bathroom or other small room where there is limited opportunity to destroy items.

Whenever the dog is confined or crated, make sure that you have created a positive space by also providing:

o Calming scents of lavender and chamomile;

o Soft music or calm radio/podcasts;

o Special snacks that you only give when the dog is in this space.

There are some products available to help provide comfort and alleviate some anxiety in your absence:

o Calming collars;

o Thunder shirts;

o DAP diffuser with calming pheromones.

If the dog is barking or whining, do not let the dog out or give him more attention only calm behavior should be rewarded with freedom.

Practice leaving the dog in the space for small durations of time and always let them out before panic sets in.

These are very basic tips to help you manage some minor anxieties. If you believe your dog suffers from separation anxiety, contact a professional dog behaviorist or speak to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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