Housetraining your Puppy

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Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! A new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is housetraining your new pet. However, with the positive tips in this handout, housetraining outside can be a quick and rewarding experience for both the new puppy and its owners.

In order to assist your puppy with learning housetraining quickly and easily, it is important that you recognize your pets cues that they need to eliminate. Most puppies need to use the restroom every three to four hours during the day and within thirty minutes of eating, drinking, exercise, play or sleep. Most puppies will also exhibit some outward signs that they need to eliminate such as, sniffing the floor, walking in circles, squatting, slinking, or trying to hide behind objects. Closely supervising your pet and being in tune to their body language will make the housetraining transition easier for everyone involved.

Puppies learn quickly and easily when a positive routine is established. When it is time to take your pet outdoors to eliminate, use the same path, door and elimination location each time. Speak to your pet in an upbeat and encouraging tone. When you have reached the elimination area, use a key phrase to encourage your pet to eliminate, such as “Go Potty”. This key phrase will become his cue to eliminate and will be helpful in times when you are not in a familiar location to give him permission to eliminate. Once your puppy has done his business reward him immediately with lavish praise and treats. It is important that you accompany your pet each time he eliminates; this allows you to make sure that he has done his business and to reward him immediately for his good efforts.[DFR::450515-10398130-cj|align_right_1]

Until your new puppy is successfully housetrained, it is recommended that they be kept on a leash at all times. This allows you to carefully observe their body language, behaviors and cues that it may be time for a trip outside. If you cannot supervise your pet, then the dog should be confined in a puppy proofed area of your home. This area should have a warm bed, food, water and area for elimination. Before confining your pet, be sure that he has been allowed to relieve himself and has been exercised. If your puppy does have an accident while you are not supervising him, remember, that punishment after the fact only serves to scare and intimidate your puppy at a time when bonding is crucial. If your puppy does begin to have an accident while you are supervising him, then quickly startle the puppy by clapping or staying Stop. Then proceed to follow your routine and then reward the puppy when he finishes in the proper location. Remember that with proper supervision and practice housetraining will be a rewarding experience for both you and your new puppy.

Destructive Behavior in Puppies

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Destructive Behavior in Puppies

Congratulations on bringing home your new puppy! A new puppy can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, along with the fun, often come some challenges for the new owners. One such challenge is managing and controlling your puppys destructive behaviors. This handout will provide some tips, if your puppy tends to exhibit this type of behavior.

Puppies exhibit destructive behaviors for many different reasons. Most puppies are naturally curious about their surroundings and part of their exploration process is to touch, smell and, yes, taste their new environment. In fact, this exploration is normal and even necessary for proper puppy socialization and development. Problems occur, however, when your puppy takes these natural tendencies to the next level and becomes destructive in his behavior. These destructive behaviors may originate for many different reasons. Some small puppies may be trying to satisfy a natural urge to chew or teethe. Other puppies that tear up items, such as magazines, trash or carpets, may be simply playing. Puppies who become anxious when separated from their family members may also exhibit a wide variety of destructive behaviors.

The first step to eliminating destructive behaviors in your puppy is to determine the main cause of the behavior. If your pet destroys a wide variety of items throughout the house at different times of day, then the dog is probably exhibiting play behaviors. If the dog only destroys items when you are separated from him, then your pet is probably experiencing separation anxiety. If your puppy is between three to six months of age and is exhibiting new destructive chewing behaviors, then he is probably beginning to teethe and looking to soothe his sore teeth and gums. With each of these types of behaviors, it is important to analyze your behavior as well to determine if you are inadvertently rewarding the behavior in a way. For example, you catch your pet chewing on an inappropriate object and in order to distract him from the object you give him a treat. Repeating this action will solidify in your pets mind that chewing equals receiving a treat and, therefore, the pet will chew more frequently.[DFR::5032266-13565-ls|align_right_1]

After determining the cause of your pets destructive behavior, steps may then be taken to eliminate the behavior. The first steps should be ones that re-direct the pets attention to proper and appropriate chewing and play behaviors. For the pet exhibiting destructive play behaviors, this redirection may include more proper play times, exercise, training, and new appropriate toys. These new toys should have a variety of tastes, textures, sounds and odors in order to stimulate your pet and redirect their attention. One such example are the many good puzzle toys on the market today that allow you to stuff the toy with treats and allow your pet to work for its reward. If your pet is exhibiting teething behaviors, redirect its attention to appropriate outlets by providing toys with a variety of textures. It may also be good to offer toys that have been cooled in the freezer or toys that have frozen treats inside to ease the puppys gums. For the puppy that is experiencing separation anxiety it may be necessary to confine the animal in an area where it will not damage items while you are away. If the pup is confined, be sure to provide new and interesting toys and treats to distract the pup from your departure and separation.


If directing your puppys attention away from destructive chewing and toward appropriate areas has not worked then it may be necessary to discipline your pet. Discipline should be swift, humane and should occur at the time of the offense. If possible, it is recommended to use a punishment that will not be associated with the punisher, for example, a spray bottle, noise gun, citronella spray collar or clap. If you cannot confine your pet away from the area while you are not present to supervise, then it may be necessary to deter your pet by placing a booby trap. One idea is to place items that will make a loud noise and movement on or near the area so that when your pet touches or chews he will be greeted with a loud crash and flourish of movement. This attack will frequently deter your pet from further chewing.

Crate Training

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Crate training
Crate training your dog is a safe and humane way to contain your pet and eliminate unwanted behaviors while you are unable to watch your pet. When you crate train your pet properly, it will help you with housebreaking and  help to relieve anxiety and reduce barking  by providing a safe place for your pet.  A dog who is crate trained early will also be much more relaxed and calm, if it is necessary to travel or board later in life.

When determining if your dog will be confined to a crate or a room in your home, it is important to determine how long you will be absent. If you will be away for a really long time and you are not able to come home to let your dog out,  it may be advisable to confine your pet to a puppy-proofed room in your home with a convenient place to defecate. If you are away only a short time, it is advisable to confine the animal to a crate. If properly trained, your pet will soon see the cage as a safe haven much like a den.
When choosing to buy a crate, consider the size of your pet, personality, and your travel plans in the future. Your crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lay down comfortably. It should have a place for fresh water and food and adequate ventilation. If your pet is sociable and wants to see the world around them, then a mesh crate or a designer den may be a wonderful choice. However, if travel plans in the future of your family, then maybe a sturdy airline approved plastic crate would be a better option.


The first step in crate training your puppy is to teach your pet that crate is a safe haven for him. To do this you should avoid using the crate as a form of punishment and instead associate it with quiet, relaxing and enjoyable experiences. But it is good to remember that it is not a punishment but can be a  useful tool to eliminate certain destructive behaviors.

Begin by letting your puppy to explore the crate on his own. Make the crate a warm and welcoming place by putting his favorite pet bed inside and placing tasty treats or new toys. After a day of adequate exploration and he’s willing to go in and out of the crate on his own, take the dog out to eliminate and exercise.

After returning indoors, put him in the crate with food, water and some new toys. Shut the door and leave the room. Remain close enough to hear the puppy, but out of sight. If he is tired after the recent exercise, then the short nap in the box.

Vocalization and escape exploration is normal when your pet is first confined to his crate. Wait a few minutes, until the puppy has stopped vocalizing before releasing him. Do not let your puppy out when he barks or cry because it reinforces the behavior and links barking with being out of the cage. If your puppy will not stop barking, then some external behavior modification may be necessary to distract the pup and make it stop. A squirt bottle or shaker can be used for the startle response.

When you let your pet out of the box do not get excited or offer too much praise. To be released from the crate should not be treated as a reward, rather that  going in the cage should be praised and rewarded. Practice leaving your pet in the crate for short periods many times during the next few days. At bedtime, your pet should also be placed in the crate after taken outside for elimination and exercise.

As the puppy becomes more comfortable in her new crate, gradually increase the time the puppy is kept confined. Keep in mind how long your pet can hold his bladder and never let it be kept in a crate for longer than this time. As your pet gets older and the time spent in her new crate can be increased, hopefully he will like his space as a safe haven and a place to find new and exciting treats and toys.
Dr Debra Garrison

Dr. Debra Garrison
Dr. Debra Garrison