Humane Society of Central Illinois

New Dog / Puppy Guardianship

Congratulations on your new puppy! Here are a few suggestions which may help both of you through the "puppy phase" a little more easily.

We advise you to crate train your puppy. This is not a "cage" to your is an artificial den...his own special safe place. You have seen dogs go behind chairs or under tables. They are looking for a "den" type atmosphere and that is what a crate will represent to your puppy.

There are many advantages to having your puppy crate trained. It is usually easy to housebreak puppies when using a crate. They do not like to foul the area where they have to lay. Therefore, they learn to "hold it" until they are outside their area. If they soil the crate, it usually means the crate is too large and needs to be reduced in size. By 8-10 weeks of age, crated puppies will usually hold both bowels and bladder for 8 hours. Another advantage is that it is the safest place for your puppy when you can not be at home. In a crate, your puppy will not be chewing clothes, furniture, shoes, or electrical wires. When you travel with your pet, or must have friends keep him, he will have his own familiar place, regardless of the different surroundings. Once our pet is completely "housebroken", which means not eliminating in the house, chewing, or getting into things he shouldn't, leave the crate door open and he will often voluntarily go in to his "den" to sleep or just to be left alone.

Purchase a crate to fit the adult size of your pet. It can be blocked off as your puppy grows simply by inserting boards or slats through the crate. Cut boards to fit the width if your about 2-3 inches. Drill holes in the ends of the boards so they can be wired to the crate. As an alternative a piece of plywood may be fitted into the inside of the crate and moved as needed. Wire crates are best because the puppy can see everything that is going on. The crate should be in a high traffic area such as the kitchen. It should not be placed in the basement or garage except at night when the puppy must quickly learn that lights out means no further playtime for today. Nothing should be in the crate except a nylon bone. They can chew these without pieces breaking off. Rawhide chews should be given only when you are present in case a large piece lodges in the mouth or throat.

When introducing your puppy to the crate for the first time, make it a happy exercise. Since puppies love to eat, feed him in the crate. When they are being quiet inside the crate, give gentle, soft praise. Teach them that quiet will bring praise and attention from you...that whining and fussing will not.

Puppies are extremely impressionable. How you manage him or her will have dramatic and long lasting effects. You can make your puppy a better pet and prevent behavior problems by taking a few precautionary steps.

Crate Training -- Pups tend to become highly emotional and destructive if left alone. Plan to spend a lot of time with your new puppy. Try to be home for a long weekend. During this time, gradually accustom your pup at a crate. Feed him in a crate. If crates are properly used, pups enjoy the security and privacy of their own "den." your pup can be placed in the crate at times you are gone or too busy to supervise. At bedtime, place the crate next to your bed.

Housebreaking -- Establish a routine. Regularly schedule meals to encourage predictable elimination patterns. Take your pup out every hour or two during the day. Select one toilet area. Take to the toilet area after feeding, awakening, car rides, greeting new people or chewing on toys. Also when you see circling or sniffing around. After elimination in the appropriate spot, reward with food treats and verbal praise. If elimination occurs in the house, clap your hands, shout to distract him. Then take to the toilet area. Don't push your pet's nose into the stool or urine or hit the pet. Not only is this ineffective, but may encourage aggression and fear-related problems. Use PON, Outright, and club soda for accidents. Avoid ammonia.

Socialization -- Dogs are pack animals like wolves. Pack animals require a high degree of organization. Dogs relate to people as pack members. It's up to you to be the leader of the pack by performing simple exercises and stopping aggressive play. Introduce your pup to new experiences. Visit new places and introduce new people regularly. Take car rides. Brush daily, handle feet, ears, and open the mouth for inspection. If he fusses, say "no" firmly. Gradually expose to loud noises such as the vacuum cleaner turned on from a distance.

Prevent Bad Habits -- Provide appropriate chew toys (nylabone, rawhide) and praise for chewing these objects. Rotate toys to prevent boredom. Gently punish inappropriate chewing. Place in crate when not supervised. Don't allow aggressive behavior: tug-of-war, jumping growling, guardian food and nipping. Competition between dog and owner should never be developed, even playfully. Don't allow jumping up. Never pet or praise a dog that only has two feet on the ground. Turn away and ignore him. Gently raising your knee may be helpful. Make definite rules about manners. Are some rooms off-limits? When you tell your dog "no," be prepared to enforce your decision immediately.

Nothing Is Free -- The "nothing is free" technique helps establish leadership. Your pup must obey a command before he gets anything he likes. Use food rewards sparingly. The reward is what the dog wants in the particular situation, be it love, praise, pats, going out, etc. The only way your dog should get what he wants is by behaving.

Additional Training -- These ideas help lay a foundation. Your dog should learn to sit and stay, come when called, and walk on leash. Eight weeks is a good age to begin the sit-stay command.

Crate and Housebreaking Schedule

6:30 - 7:00 am Take puppy out. Make sure both B.M. and urination. Bring puppy in and feed. Take outside 10-30 minutes after eating.
7:00 - 9:00 am If both B.M. and urination occurred earlier, free playtime under watchful eyes. Take outside at least hourly.
10:00 am Place in crate and feed. Leave in crate at least 15 minutes after eating, then take outside. If both eliminations occur, more free time. If not, place back in crate for 20-30 minutes and try outside again. Repeat until elimination occurs.
Noon - 2:00 pm Place in crate and do errands. This will get puppy used to your being gone.
2:00 pm Take outside and watch to be sure eliminations occur.
2:00 - 4:00 pm Free time, play and exercise.
4:00 pm Place in crate and feed. Leave in crate 15-30 minutes. Take out. Be sure eliminations occur. If eliminations, free time. If not, repeat routine with crate.
10:00 pm Take outside before bedtime.

Schedule the puppy to fit your lifestyle. B.M.'s should occur about 10-30 minutes after eating; following naps; and after play. Choose a clue word to help teach your puppy to eliminate on command. Use this word each time you go outside and each time elimination occurs. Don't forget lots of praise. They will soon catch on that the clue word is associated with elimination and lots of praise. GOOD LUCK!