The Secrets to Sucessfull Housetraining
Dogs have the natural instincts to make housetraining successful. Housetraining a puppy can take several weeks to several months, but the more consistent your housetraining routine is, the faster your puppy will learn to go outside.
Establish a routine
Puppies, and most dogs alike, thrive on routine. In general, puppies need to go out every few hours and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking. Most puppies can control their bladder for one hour for every month of age. That means, if your puppy is 8 weeks old, they should be able to hold their bladder for two hours. Any longer than this, and it’s probably not your puppy's fault that they had an accident.
Crate training can be a lifesaver when it comes to housetraining! Dogs are programmed not to urinate and defecate in their living quarters, so by keeping your puppy on a crate schedule, you are helping them learn to hold their bladder. When you're not able to keep a direct eye on your puppy, it's best to confine them to a small area such as a crate or playpen where they will be less likely to use the bathroom. Too much free time means ample opportunities for accidents!
When you take your puppy out to potty, its best to always take them to the same area in your yard. Your puppy will pick up the scent of previous eliminations, which will encourage them to go again. Once your puppy goes, reward them! We want them to learn that going potty means good things.
If your puppy has an accident in the house, don't be alarmed! If you catch your puppy in the act, you can interrupt them and immediately take them outside to finish their business. If you catch your puppy after the fact, there is little you can do except to make sure they are better supervised in the future.
Nothing is more fun then having a new puppy and wanting to take them everywhere with you. Puppies go through a key socialization period up until around 16 weeks of age. During this critical time (and even after), it's important to socialize your puppy the right way. What is socialization? Good socialization consists of exposing your puppy to a variety of different people, sounds and environments and showing them that they have nothing to worry about. When considering how to socialize your puppy, keep these tips in mind.
Quality vs. quantity
You don't want to overwhelm your puppy and you want to make sure you always stay in control of the environment because after all, you are your puppy's advocate. Going to a big box store during prime hours can easily overwhelm your puppy. Choose places that expose your puppy but you won't have to worry about them being overwhelmed by families, children or too much stimuli all at once.
Using food and treats
Always take your dog's food/treats with you when going to new places. It's a good idea never to let strange dogs approach your puppy (or vice versa), or never to let people approach your puppy without your permission. For fearful dogs, we can accidentally teach them to be more fearful if we don't advocate for them. If you are worried about using exclusivly treats for training, you can use your puppy's daily allowance of food for training.
If you want to let a person approach your puppy, give them a treat and have them give it to your puppy. Thank them and then move on. If your dog is fearful and doesn't take the treat, just have them toss it on the ground and move on. Forcing a dog to interact with someone will only make them more fearful.
A word on dog parks
Dog parks should be avoided only because they can harbor disease and because it's an uncontrolled environment. The last thing you want is your puppy to have too many negative experiences around dogs! Taking your puppy to a good daycare, or puppy classes once or twice a week is a good substitute for the dog park.
Socializing your puppy can go a long way in making them confident adult dogs. Follow these tips and above all else, make sure socialization stays low key and fun!
The importance of preventative care
Vaccines play an important role in keeping your puppy healthy! When we give a puppy (or any pet) a vaccine, we are stimulating an immune response so that if they are exposed to the disease, the body knows how to fight it off.
What vaccines does my puppy need?
Vaccines generally fall into two categories. Core vaccines that we recommend for every pet regardless of their lifestyle, and lifestyle based vaccines. Core vaccines consist of the rabies vaccine and the distemper-parvo vaccine (DAPP). Optional, lifestyle based vaccines include bordetella, lepto, flu, lyme and the rattlesnake vaccine. Depending on your puppy's intended lifestyle, we can make recommendations on vaccines.
How often should my puppy receive vaccines?
We typically recommend that puppies start their vaccines at 8 weeks of age. If vaccines are given too early, they don't provide the appropriate immune response. Depending on your puppy’s age, they will receive three DAPP vaccines, given 3-4 weeks apart as well as a single rabies vaccine and any appropriate lifestyle based vaccines. Most vaccines, excluding the bordetella and the rabies, require boosters to be effective.
Are vaccines safe?
The majority of pets experience no adverse side effects from vaccines. A small percentage of pets may feel sore or lethargic after receiving there vaccines, and even a smaller minority may experience other symptoms including fever or vomiting. During your puppy's visit, we will discuss any possible side effects as well as address any of your concerns.
Is there anything else my puppy needs?
During your puppy’s initial visit, our staff will discuss various flea/tick and heartworm preventatives for your new puppy. Fleas are pesky creatures and we recommend keeping all your pets protected year round! Puppies especially can carry intestinal parasites which can be a danger to both you and your pet. Dogs and cats can contract intestinal parasites from a variety of different sources including coming in contact with contaminated soil, water or feces. Children are at particular risk for contracting intestinal parasites as they are more likely to come in contact with infected soil. Make sure to practice good hygiene and teach children to wash their hands after handling pets or playing outside. Heartworm disease, spread through the bite of infected mosquitos, is a severe and potentially fatal disease caused by parasitic worms that like to live in the heart and the arteries of the lungs of many types of mammals. Most monthly heartworm preventatives also contain a broad spectrum dewormer. Keeping your dog and cat on monthly heartworm preventative is a good way to make sure you are also deworming them for intestinal parasites, as well as protecting them from heartworm disease.