Puppy's First Week at Home (8-9 weeks)

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Start housetraining your pup the moment he comes home. It is important, and surprisingly easy, to train your puppy without him making a single toilet or chewing mistake. Each mistake will make training considerably more difficult. Puppies quickly establish toilet habits and even a single mistake heralds many more in the future. Also, punishing puppies for soiling the house or making chewing mistakes inadvertently teaches them to soil the house or chew on shoes while their owners are away (and therefore, cannot punish). Remember, good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits and so, housetrain your puppy from the outset.

Confinement is the secret to errorless housetraining — using a doggy den and a puppy playroom) to make sure your unsupervised puppy will not make any mistakes. The whole point of confining puppies while they are young is so that they will be able to have as much freedom as possible when they are older. Alternatively, if you let your new puppy roam free and form bad house-habits, you will no doubt confine him as an adult. Also, of course, make sure you teach your puppy to love his den and playroom.

With the proper use of a doggy den it is very easy to predict when your puppy will need to use the toilet. This means you can take your puppy to your chosen toilet location and know they will promptly pee or poop so that you may reward them extravagantly and play with them indoors, knowing they won’t have an accident. Additionally, you are in complete control of what objects they have access to in their confinement areas, so they may learn to chew only appropriate items. Hollow chewtoys stuffed with food will teach them what is appropriate to chew, and reward them for quietly enjoying some appropriate recreational chewing.

Regular, early confinement will help your puppy learn to enjoy spending time at home alone.

You need to ensure that an errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training program is instituted the very first day your puppy comes home. During the first week, puppies characteristically learn good or bad habits that set the precedent for weeks, months, and sometimes years to come. Never forget, good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits!

The Very First Day Your Puppy Comes Home

Your canine newcomer is just itching to learn household manners. She wants to please, but she has to learn how. Before the young pup can be trusted to have full run of the house, somebody must teach the house rules. There's no point keeping house rules a secret. Somebody has to tell the pup. And that somebody is you. Otherwise, your puppy will let her imagination run wild in her quest for occupational therapy to pass the time of day. Without a firm grounding in canine domestic etiquette, your puppy will be left to improvise in her choice of toys and toilets. The pup will no doubt eliminate in closets and on carpets, and your couches and curtains will be viewed as mere playthings for destruction. Each mistake is a potential disaster, since it heralds many more to come. If your pup is allowed to make "mistakes," bad habits will quickly become the status quo, making it necessary to break bad habits before teaching good ones.

Begin by teaching your puppy good habits from the very first day she comes home. Your puppy's living quarters need to be designed so that housetraining and chewtoy-training are errorless.

Be absolutely certain that you fully understand the principles of long-term and short-term confinement before you bring your new puppy home. With a long-term and short-term confinement schedule, housetraining and chewtoy-training are easy, efficient, and errorless. During her first few weeks at home, regular confinement (with chewtoys stuffed with kibble) teaches the puppy to teach herself to chew chewtoys, to settle down calmly and quietly, and not to become a recreational barker. Moreover, short-term confinement allows you to predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself, so that you may take her to the right spot and reward her for eliminating.

From the moment you choose your puppy, there is some considerable urgency regarding socialization and training. There is no time to waste. Basically, an adult dog's temperament and behavior habits (both good and bad) are shaped during puppyhood — very early puppyhood. It is easy to make horrendous mistakes during your puppy’s first few weeks at home. Such mistakes usually have an indelible effect, influencing your pup's behavior and temperament for the rest of his life. This is not to say that unsocialized and untrained eight-week-old pups cannot be rehabilitated. They can, if you work quickly. But while it’s easy to prevent behavior and temperament problems, rehabilitation can be both difficult and time-consuming, and it is unlikely that your pup will ever become the adult dog he or she could have been.

Mistakes

If your pup is ever left unsupervised indoors he will most certainly chew household articles and soil your house. Although these teeny accidents do little damage in themselves, they set the precedent for your puppy's choice of toys and toilets for many months to come.

Any housesoiling or chewing mistake you allow your puppy to make is absolute silliness and absolute seriousness: silliness because you are creating lots of future headaches for yourself, and seriousness because millions of dogs are euthanized each year simply because their owners did not know how to housetrain or chewtoy-train them.

You should treat any puppy housesoiling or house-destruction mistake as a potential disaster, since it predicts numerous future mistakes from a dog with larger bladder and bowels and much more destructive jaws. Many owners begin to notice their puppy's destructiveness by the time he is four to five months old, when the pup is characteristically relegated outdoors. Destruction is the product of a puppy's boredom, lack of supervision, and a search for entertainment. Natural inquisitiveness prompts the lonely pup to dig, bark, and escape in his quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the day in solitary confinement. Once the neighbors complain about the dog's incessant barking and periodic escapes, the dog is often further confined to a garage or basement. Usually though, this is only a temporary measure until the dog is surrendered to a local animal shelter to play the lotto of life. Fewer than 25 percent of surrendered dogs are adopted, of which about half are returned as soon as the new owners discover their adopted adolescent's annoying problems.

The above summarizes the fate of many dogs. Without a doubt, simple and predictable behavior problems are the number one terminal illness for domestic dogs. This is especially sad because all these simple problems could be prevented so easily. Housetraining and chewtoy-training are hardly rocket science. But you do need to know what to do. And you need to know what to do before you bring your puppy home. Make certain that your puppy does not develop life-threatening behavior problems.

If you already have a puppy and feel that you are behind, do not throw in the towel. You must acknowledge, however, that you are behind and that your puppy's socialization and education are now a dire emergency. Immediately do your best to catch up. Immediately, seek help from a pet dog trainer. To locate a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.

Maybe take a week or two off of work to devote to your puppy. The younger your puppy, the easier and quicker it is to catch up on her developmental timetable and minimize losses. Every day you delay, however, makes it harder.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Puppy Playroom & Doggy Den

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Successful domestic doggy education involves teaching your puppy to train herself through confinement. This prevents mistakes and establishes good habits from the outset. When you are physically or mentally absent, confine your puppy to keep her out of mischief and to help her learn how to behave appropriately.

The more you confine your puppy to her Puppy Playroom and Doggy Den during her first few weeks at home, the more freedom she will enjoy as an adult dog for the rest of her life. The more closely you adhere to the following puppy-confinement program, the sooner your puppy will be housetrained and chewtoy-trained. And, as an added benefit, your puppy will learn to settle down quickly, quietly, calmly, and happily.

When You Are Not at Home

Keep your puppy confined to a fairly small puppy playroom, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or utility room. You can also use an exercise pen to cordon off a small section of a room. This is your puppy’s long-term confinement area, which should include:

1. A comfortable bed

2. A bowl of fresh water

3. Plenty of hollow chewtoys (stuffed with dog food)

4. A doggy toilet in the farthest corner from her bed

Obviously, your puppy will feel the need to bark, chew, and eliminate throughout the course of the day, and so she must be left somewhere she can satisfy her needs without causing any damage or annoyance. Your puppy will most probably eliminate as far as possible from her sleeping quarters — in her doggy toilet. By removing all chewable items from the puppy playpen — with the exception of hollow chewtoys stuffed with kibble — you will make chewing chewtoys your puppy's favorite habit. A good habit!

The Purpose of long-term confinement is:

· To confine the puppy to an area where chewing and toilet behavior are acceptable, so the puppy does not make any chewing or housesoiling mistakes around the house

· To maximize the likelihood that the puppy will learn to use the provided toilet

· To maximize the likelihood that the puppy will learn to chew only chewtoys (the only chewables available in the playroom)

· To maximize the likelihood that the puppy will learn to settle down calmly and quietly, i.e., without barking

When You Are at Home

Enjoy short play and training sessions hourly. If you cannot pay full attention to your puppy’s every single second, play with your pup in his Puppy Playpen, where a suitable toilet and toys are available. Or, for periods of no longer than an hour at a time, confine your puppy to his Doggy Den (short-term close confinement area), such as a portable dog crate. Every hour on the hour, release your puppy and quickly take him to his doggy toilet. Your puppy's short-term confinement area should include a comfortable bed, and plenty of hollow chewtoys (stuffed with dog food).

It is much easier to watch your pup if he is settled down in a single spot. Either you may move the crate so that your puppy is in the same room as you, or you may want to confine your pup to a different room to start preparing him for times when he will be left at home alone. If you do not like the idea of confining your puppy to a dog crate, you may tie the leash to your belt and have the pup settle down at your feet. Or you may fasten the leash to an eye-hook in the baseboard next to your puppy's bed, basket, or mat. To prevent the chewtoys from rolling out of reach, also tie them to the eye-hook.

The Purpose of Short-term Close Confinement is:

· To confine the puppy to an area where chewing behavior is acceptable so the puppy does not make chewing mistakes around the house

· To make the puppy a chewtoyaholic (since chewtoys are the only chewables available and they are stuffed with food)

· To teach the puppy to settle down calmly and happily for periodic quiet moments

· To prevent housesoiling mistakes around the house

· To predict when the puppy needs to eliminate

Dogs naturally avoid soiling their den, so closely confining a puppy to his bed temporarily inhibits urination and defecation. This means the pup will need to relieve himself when released from the crate each hour. You will then be there to show the puppy the right spot, reward him for eliminating in the right spot, and then enjoy a short play/training session with the delightfully empty puppy.

Train Your Puppy to Train Himself

Housetraining and chewtoy-training will be quick and easy if you adhere to the puppy confinement plan above, which prevents the puppy from making mistakes and prompts the puppy to teach herself household etiquette. If you vary from the program, you will likely experience problems. Unless you enjoy problems, you must reprimand yourself for any mistakes you allow your puppy to make.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Errorless Housetraining

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Housesoiling is a spatial problem, involving perfectly normal, natural, and necessary canine behaviors (peeing and pooping) performed in inappropriate places.

Housetraining is quickly and easily accomplished by praising your puppy and offering a food treat when she eliminates in an appropriate toilet area. Once your pup realizes that her eliminatory products are the equivalent of coins in a food vending machine — that feces and urine may be cashed in for tasty treats — your pup will be clamoring to eliminate in the appropriate spot, because soiling the house does not bring equivalent fringe benefits.

Housesoiling is also a temporal problem: either the puppy is in the wrong place at the right time (confined indoors with full bladder and bowels), or the puppy is in the right place at the wrong time (outdoors in the yard or on a walk, but with empty bladder and bowels).

Timing is the essence of successful housetraining. Indeed, efficient and effective housetraining depends upon the owner being able to predict when the puppy needs to eliminate so that she may be directed to an appropriate toilet area and more than adequately rewarded for doing the right thing in the right place at the right time.

Usually, puppies urinate within half a minute of waking up from a nap and usually defecate within a couple of minutes of that. But who has the time to hang around to wait for puppy to wake up and pee and poop? Instead it's a better plan to wake up the puppy yourself, when you are ready and the time is right.

Short-term confinement to a dog crate offers a convenient means to accurately predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself. Confining a pup to a small area strongly inhibits her from urinating or defecating, since she doesn't want to soil her sleeping area. Hence, the puppy is highly likely to want to eliminate immediately after being released from confinement.

Housetraining Is as Easy as 1-2-3

When you are away from home or if you are too busy or distracted to adhere to the following schedule, keep your puppy confined to her puppy playroom where she has a suitable doggy toilet. Otherwise, when you are at home: 1. Keep your puppy closely confined to her doggy den (crate) or on-leash. 2. Every hour on the hour release your pup from confinement and quickly run her (on-leash if necessary) to the toilet area, instruct your pup to eliminate, and give her three minutes to do so. 3. Enthusiastically praise your puppy when she eliminates, offer three freeze-dried liver treats, and then play/train with the pup indoors; once your puppy is old enough to go outside, take her for a walk after she eliminates.

If errorless housetraining is so easy, why do so many dog owners experience problems? Here are some common questions and answers that help make errorless housetraining work.

Why confine the pup to his doggy den? Why not his playroom?

Short-term close confinement allows you to predict when your puppy wants to go so that you may be there to direct him to the appropriate spot and reward him for doing the right thing in the right place at the right time. During the hour-long periods of close confinement, as your puppy lies doggo in dreamy repose, his bladder and bowels are slowly but surely filling up. Whenever the big hand reaches twelve and you dutifully release the pup to run to his indoor toilet or backyard doggy toilet to relieve himself, your puppy is likely to eliminate pronto. Knowing when your puppy wants to go allows you to choose the spot and most importantly to reward your puppy handsomely for using it. Rewarding your puppy for using his toilet is the secret to successful housetraining. If on the other hand the puppy were left in his playroom, he would most likely use his indoor toilet but would not be rewarded for doing so.

What if my puppy doesn't like going in his crate?

Before confining your puppy to his crate (doggy den), you first need to teach him to love the crate and to love confinement. This is so easy to do. Stuff a couple of hollow chewtoys with kibble and the occasional treat. Let your puppy sniff the stuffed chewtoys and then place them in the crate and shut the door with your puppy on the outside. Usually it takes just a few seconds for your puppy to beg you to open the door and let him inside. In no time at all, your pup will be happily preoccupied with his chewtoys. When leaving the puppy in his long-term confinement area, tie the stuffed chewtoys to the inside of the crate and leave the crate door open. Thus, the puppy can choose whether he wants to explore the small area or lie down on his bed in his crate and try to extricate the kibble and treats from his chewtoys. Basically, the stuffed chewtoys are confined to the crate and the puppy is given the option of coming or going at will. Most puppies choose to rest comfortably inside the crate with stuffed chewtoys for entertainment. This technique works especially well if your puppy is not fed kibble from a bowl but only from chewtoys or by hand, as lures and rewards in training. To use this method, each morning measure out the puppy’s daily ration of food into a bag to avoid overfeeding.

What if I don't like putting my puppy in a crate?

Short-term confinement, whether to a crate or tie-down, is a temporary training measure to help you teach your puppy where to eliminate and what to chew. A dog crate is the best housetraining tool to help you accurately predict when your dog wishes to relieve herself and is the best training tool to help you to teach your puppy to become a chewtoyaholic. Once your puppy has learned to eliminate only in appropriate areas and to chew only appropriate objects, she may be given free run of the house and garden for the rest of her life. You will probably find however, that after just a few days your puppy learns to love her crate and will voluntarily rest inside. Your puppy's very own den is a quiet, comfortable, and special doggy place. If, on the other hand, your puppy is given unsupervised free run of the house from the outset, the odds are that she will be confined later on — first to the yard, then to the basement, then to a cage in an animal shelter, and then to a coffin. Without a doubt, housesoiling and destructive chewing are the two most prevalent terminal illnesses in dogs. Using a dog crate will help you prevent these problems from ever developing in your puppy.

Why not just leave the puppy outdoors until he is housetrained?

Who is going to housetrain your pup outside — a shrub? If the dog is left outside unattended, he will become an indiscriminate eliminator. Basically, your puppy will learn to go wherever he wants, whenever he wants, and he will likely do the same whenever you let him indoors. Puppies left outdoors and unsupervised for long periods of time seldom become housetrained. Also, they tend to become indiscriminate barkers, chewers, diggers, and escapists, and they may be more easily stolen. Outdoor puppies also become so excited on the few occasions they are invited indoors that eventually they are no longer allowed inside at all.

Why release the pup every hour?

Why not every 55 minutes or every three hours? Is it really necessary to do it on the hour? Puppies have a 45-minute bladder capacity at three weeks of age, 75-minute capacity at eight weeks, 90-minute capacity at twelve weeks and two-hour capacity at 18 weeks. Releasing your puppy every hour offers you an hourly opportunity to reward your dog for using a designated toilet area. You do not have to do this precisely each hour, but it is much easier to remember to do so each hour on the hour.

Why run the puppy to the toilet? Why not walk sedately?

If you take your time getting your puppy to his doggy toilet, you may find that he pees or poops en route. Hurrying your puppy tends to jiggle his bowels and bladder so that he really wants to go the moment you let him stand still and sniff his toilet area.

Why not just put the puppy outside by himself? Can't he do it on his own?

Of course he can. But the whole point of predicting when your puppy wants to relieve himself is so you can show him where and offer well-deserved praise and reward. Thus your puppy will learn where you would like him to go. Also, if you see your puppy eliminate, you know that he is empty; you may then allow your empty puppy supervised exploration of the house for a while before returning him to his den.

Why instruct the pup to eliminate? Doesn't he know he wants to go?

By instructing your puppy to eliminate beforehand and by rewarding him for eliminating afterward, you will teach your pup to go on command. Eliminating on cue is a boon when you are traveling with your dog and in other time-constrained situations. Ask your pup to "Hurry up," "Do your business," "Go Pee and Poop," or use some other socially acceptable, euphemistic eliminatory command.

Why give the puppy three minutes? Isn't one minute sufficient?

Usually, a young pup will urinate within 30 seconds of being released from short-term confinement, but it may take one or two minutes for him to defecate. It is certainly worthwhile to allow your pup three minutes to complete his business

What if the puppy doesn't go?

Your puppy will be more likely to eliminate if you stand still and let him circle around you on leash. If your puppy does not eliminate within the allotted time, no biggie! Simply pop the pup back in his crate and try again in half an hour. Repeat the process over and over until he does eliminate. Eventually, your puppy will eliminate outdoors and you will be able to reward him. Therefore, on subsequent hourly trips to his toilet your puppy will be likely to eliminate promptly.

Why praise the puppy? Isn't relief sufficient reward?

It is far better to express your emotions when praising your puppy for getting it right, than when reprimanding the poor pup for getting it wrong. So really praise that pup: "Gooooooooood Puppy!" Housetraining is no time for understated thank yous. Don't be embarrassed about praising your puppy. Embarrassed dog owners usually end up with housesoiling problems. Really reward your puppy. Tell your puppy that he has done a most wonderful and glorious thing!

Why offer treats? Isn't praise sufficient reward?

In a word, no! The average person cannot effectively praise a moribund lettuce. And specifically, many owners—especially men—seem incapable of convincingly praising their puppies. Consequently, it might be a good idea to give the pup a food treat or two (or three) for his effort. Input for output! "Wow! My owner's great. Every time I pee or poop outside, she gives me a treat. I never get yummy treats when I do it on the couch. I can't wait for my owner to come home so I can go out in the yard and cash in my urine and feces for food treats!" In fact, why not keep some treats in a screw-top jar handy to the doggy toilet?

Why freeze-dried liver?

Housetraining is one of those times when you want to pull out all of the stops. Take my word for it: When it comes to housetraining, use the Ferrari of dog treats — freeze-dried liver.

Do we really have to give three liver treats when the puppy pees or poops? Isn't this a wee bit anal retentive?

Yes and no. Certainly you do not have to give your puppy exactly three treats every time. But it's a funny thing: If I suggest that people offer a treat each time their puppy eliminates promptly in the right place, they rarely follow instructions. Whenever I tell people to give three treats, however, they will painstakingly count out the treats to give to their puppy. Here’s what I am trying to say: Handsomely praise and reward your puppy every time he uses a designated toilet area.

Why play with the puppy indoors?

If you reward your pup for using his doggy toilet, you will know he is empty. "Thank you, empty puppy!" What better time to play with or train your puppy indoors without facing the risk of a messy mistake. Why get a puppy unless you want to spend some quality (feces-free) time with him?

Why bother to take an older puppy outdoors for a walk when he's empty?

Many people fall into the trap of taking their puppy outside or walking him so that he may eliminate, and when he does they bring him indoors. Usually it takes just a couple of trials before the puppy learns, "Whenever my urine or feces hits the ground, my walk ends!" Consequently, the pup becomes reluctant to eliminate outside, and so when brought home after a long jiggling play or walk, he is in dire need to relieve himself. Which he does. It is a much better plan to praise your puppy for using his doggy toilet and then take him for a walk as a reward for eliminating. Get in the habit of taking an older puppy to his doggy toilet (in your yard or curbside in front of your apartment building), standing still, and waiting for the pup to eliminate. Praise the pup and offer liver treats when he does: "Good dog, let's go walkies!" Clean up and dispose of the feces in your own trash can, and then go and enjoy a poopless walk with your dog. After just a few days with a simple "no poop—no walk" rule, you'll find you have the quickest urinator and defecator in town.

What should I do if I've done all the above and I catch the puppy in the act of making a mistake?

Pick up a rolled newspaper and give yourself a smack! Obviously you did not follow the instructions above. Who allowed the urine-and-feces-filled puppy to have free-range access to your house? You! Should you ever reprimand or punish your puppy when you catch him in the act, all he will learn is to eliminate in secret—that is, never again in your untrustworthy presence. Thus you will have created an owner-absent housesoiling problem. If you ever catch your pup in the act of making a mistake that was your fault, at the very most you can quickly, softly, but urgently implore your pup, "Outside, outside, outside!" The tone and urgency of your voice communicates that you want your puppy to do something promptly, and the meaning of the words instruct the puppy where. Your response will have limited effect on the present mistake, but it helps prevent future mistakes.

Never reprimand your dog in a manner that is not instructive. Nonspecific reprimands only create more problems (owner-absent misbehavior) as well as frightening the pup and eroding the puppy-owner relationship. Your puppy is not a "bad puppy." On the contrary, your puppy is a good puppy that has been forced to misbehave because his owner could not, or would not, follow simple instructions. Please reread and follow the above instructions!

The Doggy Toilet

For the best doggy toilet, equip a litter box or cover a flat tray with what will be the dog's eventual toilet material. For example, for rural and suburban pups that will eventually be taught to relieve themselves outside on earth or grass, lay down a roll of turf. For urban puppies that will eventually be taught to eliminate at curbside, lay down a couple of thin concrete tiles. Your puppy will soon develop a very strong natural preference for eliminating on similar outdoor surfaces whenever he can. If you have a backyard dog toilet area, in addition to the indoor playroom toilet, take your pup to his outdoor toilet in the yard whenever you release him from his doggy den.

If you live in an apartment and do not have a yard, teach your puppy to use his indoor toilet until he is old enough to venture outdoors at three months of age.

For a goog indoor or balcony doggy toilet check out PetaPotty or The Pet Loo.

Training Your Dog to Use an Outdoor Toilet

For the first few weeks, take your puppy outside on-leash. Hurry to his toilet area and then stand still to allow the puppy to circle (as he would normally do before eliminating). Reward your puppy each time he "goes" in the designated spot. If you have a fenced yard, you may later take your puppy outside off-leash and let him choose where he would like to eliminate. But make sure to reward him differentially according to how close he hits ground zero. Offer one treat for doing it outside quickly, two treats for doing it within, say, five yards of the outdoor doggy toilet, three treats for within two yards, and five treats for a bull's eye.

Once your dog has not had a housesoiling mistake for at least three months, you may increase your puppy's playroom to two rooms. For each subsequent month without a mistake your puppy may gain access to another room, until eventually he enjoys free run of the entire house and garden when left at home alone. If a housesoiling mistake should occur, go back to the original puppy confinement program for at least a month.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Errorless Chewtoy-Training

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The dog is a social and inquisitive animal. He needs to do something, especially if left at home alone. What would you like your dog to do? Crosswords? Needlepoint? Watch soaps on the telly? You must provide some form of occupational therapy for your puppy to pass the day. If your puppy learns to enjoy chewing chewtoys, he will look forward to settling down quietly for some quality chewing time. It is important to teach your puppy to enjoy chewing chewtoys more than chewing household items. An effective ploy is to stuff the puppy's chewtoys with kibble and treats. In fact, during your puppy's first few weeks at home, put away his food bowl and, apart from using kibble as lures and rewards for training, serve all your puppy's kibble stuffed in hollow chewtoys — Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Squirrel Dudes, Busy Buddy Footballs and sterilized bones.

For errorless chewtoy-training, adhere to the puppy confinement program. When you are away from home, leave the puppy in his puppy playroom with bed, water, toilet, and plenty of stuffed chewtoys. While you are at home, leave the puppy in his doggy den with plenty of stuffed chewtoys. Every hour after releasing the pup to relieve himself, play chewtoy games — chewtoy-search, chewtoy-fetch, and chewtoy-tug-o'-war. Your puppy will soon develop a very strong chewtoy habit because you have limited his chewing choices to a single acceptable toy, which you have made even more attractive with the addition of kibble and treats.

Once your dog has become a chewtoyaholic and has not had a chewing (or housesoiling) mishap for at least three months, you may increase your puppy's playroom to two rooms. For each subsequent month without a mistake your puppy may gain access to another room, until eventually he enjoys free run of the entire house and garden when left at home alone. If a chewing mistake should occur, go back to the original puppy confinement program for at least a month.

In addition to preventing household destruction, teaching your puppy to become a chewtoyaholic prevents him from becoming a recreational barker because chewing and barking are obviously mutually exclusive behaviors. Also, chewtoyaholism helps your puppy learn to settle down calmly because chewing and dashing about are mutually exclusive behaviors.

Chewtoyaholism is especially useful for dogs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder since it provides them with an acceptable and convenient means to work out their obsessions and compulsions. Your dog may still have OCD, but a chewtoyaholic will happily spend his time obsessively and compulsively chewing his stuffed chewtoys.

Most important, chewtoy chewing keeps the puppy occupied and effectively helps prevent the development of separation anxiety.

What Is a Chewtoy?

A chewtoy is an object for the dog to chew that is neither destructible nor consumable. If your dog destroys an object, you will have to replace it, and that costs money. If your dog consumes the object, you may have to replace your dog. Eating non-food items is extremely hazardous to your dog's health. The type of chewtoy you choose will depend on your dog's penchant for chewing and his individual preferences. I have seen some dogs make a cow's hoof or a compressed rawhide chewy last forever, whereas other dogs consume them in a matter of minutes. For years, I considered Kong products to be the Cadillacs of chewtoys. Now, there are other equally good products, such as Premier Pet Product’s Squirrel Dudes and Busy Buddy Footballs. Hollow sterilized long bones are a very close second choice. I like Kong and Premier products and sterilized bones because they are simple, natural, and organic, i.e., not plastic. Also, being hollow, they can be stuffed with food.

Dinner from Chewtoys, Not from Bowls

Customarily, puppies receive their entire daily allotment of kibble at dinner, which often becomes a jackpot reward for boisterously barking and expectantly bouncing around. Moreover, if you allow your puppy to wolf down dinner from a bowl, he will be at a loss for what to do for the rest of the day. In the wild, dogs spend a good 90 percent of their waking hours searching for something to eat, and so in a sense, regular bowl-feeding deprives a dog of his principal activity — searching for food. Instead, after eating, your inquisitive puppy will search for entertainment for the rest of the day. Most likely you will consider your puppy's choices of occupation to be mischievous misbehavior.

Without a doubt, regularly feeding a new puppy (or adult dog) from a bowl is the single most disastrous mistake in dog husbandry and training. Although unintentional, the effects of bowl-feeding are often severely detrimental for the puppy's household manners and sense of well-being. In a sense, each bowl-fed meal steals the puppy's raison d'etre — its very reason for being. Within seconds of gulping his meal, the poor pup now faces a mental void for the rest of his day with nothing but long, lonely hours to worry and fret, or work himself into a frenzy.

As the puppy adapts to fill the void, normal behaviors such as chewing, barking, strolling, grooming, and playing become stereotypical, repetitive, and maladaptive. Specific behaviors increase in frequency until they no longer serve any useful function except to pass the time. Investigative chewing becomes destructive chewing. Alarm barking becomes incessant barking. Strolling from one place to another becomes repetitively pacing, or racing back and forth. Investigating a shadow or light becomes a neurotic fixation. Routine grooming becomes excessive licking, scratching, tail-chasing, head-pressing, or in extreme cases, self-mutilation.

Stereotyped behaviors cause the release of endorphins, perpetuating their repetition, and in a sense, the dog becomes drugged and hooked on mindless, repetitive activity. Stereotyped behaviors are like behavioral cancers; as they progressively increase in frequency and squeeze most useful and adaptive responses from the dog's behavior repertoire until eventually the "brain-dead" dog spends hours on end barking, pacing, chewing himself, or simply staring into space.

A vital facet of your puppy's early education is to teach him how to peacefully pass the time of day. Feeding your puppy's kibble only from hollow chewtoys keeps your puppy happily occupied and content for hours on end. It allows the puppy to focus on an enjoyable activity so that he doesn't dwell on his loneliness. Each piece of extracted kibble also rewards your puppy for settling down calmly, for chewing an appropriate chewtoy, and for not barking.

Chewtoy Stuffing

An old chewtoy becomes immediately novel and exciting when stuffed with food. If you use kibble from your puppy's normal daily ration your puppy will not put on weight. To protect your puppy's waistline, heart, and liver, it is important to minimize the use of treats in training. Use kibble as lures and rewards for teaching basic manners and reserve freeze-dried liver treats for initial housetraining, for meeting children, men, and strangers, as a garnish for stuffing Kongs (see below), and as an occasional jackpot reward for especially good behavior.

Kong Stuffing 101

The basic principle of Kong stuffing ensures that some food comes out quickly and easily to instantly reward your puppy for initially contacting his chewtoy; bits of food come out over a long period of time to periodically reward your puppy for continuing to chew; and some of the best bits never come out, so your puppy never loses interest. Squish a small piece of freeze-dried liver in the small hole in the tip of the Kong so your puppy will never be able to get it out. Smear a little honey around the inside of the Kong, fill it up with kibble, and then block the big hole with crossed dog biscuits. There are numerous creative variations on basic Kong stuffing. One of my favorite recipes comprises moistening your puppy's kibble, spooning it into the Kong, and then putting it in the freezer overnight—a Kongsicle! Your dog will love it.

Kong Is King!

If from the outset you always confine your puppy with a selection of stuffed Kongs and Biscuit Balls, chewing these appropriate chewtoys will soon become an integral part of his day. Your puppy will quickly develop a socially acceptable Kong habit. And remember, good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits. Your puppy will now spend a large part of his day musing over his Kong products.

Let's pause for a moment to consider all the bad things your puppy will not be doing if he is quietly engaged with his chewtoys. He will not be chewing inappropriate household and garden items. He will not be a recreational barker. (He will still bark when strangers come to the house, but he will not spend all day barking for barking's sake.) And he will not be running around, fretting, and working himself up if left at home alone.

The wonderful thing about teaching a puppy to enjoy chewing chewtoys is that this activity excludes many alternative, extremely annoying puppy behaviors. A stuffed Kong is one of the best stress-relievers, especially for anxious, obsessive, and compulsive dogs.

A Kong for a dog is also one of the best stress-relievers for the owner. There is no single device that so easily and so simply prevents or resolves so many bad habits and behavior problems.

Settle Down and Shush

High on the educational agenda is to teach your pup that there are times for play and times for quiet. Specifically, you want to teach the youngster to settle down and shush for short periods. Your life will be more peaceful, and your pup's life will be less stressful once he learns that frequent little quiet moments are the name of the game in his new home.

Beware the trap of smothering your new puppy with non-stop attention and affection during his first days at home, for then he will whine, bark, and fret when left alone at night, or during the daytime when you are at work and the children are at school. Of course the pup is lonely! This is his first time alone without his mother, littermates, or human companionship.

You can really help to ease your pup's anxiety by getting him used to settling down alone during his first few days at home. Remember, first impressions are very important and long lasting. Also keep in mind that the average suburban puppy will likely spend many hours and days left to his own devices. So it is well worthwhile to teach the pup how to spend time by himself. Otherwise, the puppy may become anxious when left alone and develop hard-to-break chewing, barking, digging, and escaping habits.

When you are at home, confine your puppy to his doggy den with lots of chewtoys for housetraining, chewtoy-training, and teaching the pup to settle down peacefully and happily. It is important to confine your puppy for short periods when you are home in order to teach him how to enjoy his own company when left at home alone.

I am certainly not advocating leaving puppies alone for long periods of time. But it is a fact of modern day life that many puppy owners leave home each day to work for a living, so it is only fair to prepare the pup for this.

When you are at home, the key is short-term confinement. The idea is not to lock up the puppy for hours on end, but rather to teach him to settle down quickly in a variety of settings and be confined for variable but mostly fairly short, periods. Make sure the only objects within reach are stuffed chewtoys. Thus the dog develops a strong chewtoy habit right from the outset, if only because there is precious little else at hand to chew. And let me repeat: A puppy happily preoccupied with a stuffed chewtoy is not destroying household articles and furniture, and is not barking. When you are at home, it is also a good idea to occasionally confine your puppy to his puppy playroom (long-term confinement area) as a practice run for your absence. Occasional long-term confinement when you are at home allows you to monitor your pup's behavior so you have some idea how he will act when you are gone.

If your puppy barks or whines when confined to his short- or long-term confinement area, reward-train him to rest quietly. Sit next to your puppy’s crate or just outside his puppy playroom and busy yourself by reading a book, working on the computer, or watching television. Completely ignore your puppy while he vocalizes, but each time he stops barking, immediately praise him calmly and offer a piece of kibble.

Adapted from BEFORE You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Home Alone

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All owners find it occasionally necessary to leave their puppydog at home alone. So before leaving your puppy for long periods, you should teach him how to amuse himself appropriately when left alone, such as by chewing stuffed chewtoys, and learning how to enjoy his own company without becoming anxious or stressed. A dog is a highly social animal and therefore requires adequate preparation for spending some of his time in social isolation and solitary confinement.

To teach your puppy how to settle down calmly and quietly when you are absent, start by teaching him to settle down with a chewtoy at times when you are present.

A dog is not like a television or a video game. You can't just pull the plug or temporarily remove the batteries from a rambunctious puppy. Instead, you must teach him to settle down and shush. Right from the outset, make frequent quiet moments part of the puppy's daily routine. Following the confinement schedule (described in Puppy’s First Week at Home) will help your puppy train himself to settle down. Additionally, encourage your puppy to settle down beside you for longer and longer periods. For example, when you're watching television have your pup lie down on leash or in his crate, but release him for short play-training breaks during the commercials. For a young puppy, you can't have too many rules.

When playing with your pup, have him settle down for frequent short interludes every one or two minutes. Initially have the pup lie still for a few seconds before letting him play again. After a minute, interrupt the play session once more with a three-second settle-down. Then try for four seconds, then five, eight, ten, and so on. Although being yo-yoed between the commands "Settle down" and "Let's play" is difficult at first, the puppy soon learns to settle down quickly and happily. Your puppy will learn that being asked to settle down is not the end of the world, nor is it necessarily the end of the play session, but instead that "Settle down" signals a short timeout and reward-break before he is allowed to resume playing.

If you teach your puppy to be calm and controlled when told, you will have years of fun and excitement ahead. Once your puppy has learned to settle down and shush on cue, there is so much more your dog can enjoy with you. Your well-trained dog is likely to be invited for many walks, trips in the car, picnics, visits to the pub, or to Grandma's, and even on incredible journeys to stay in ritzy dog-friendly hotels. On the other hand, if you let your dog play indiscriminately as a puppy, he will no doubt want to play indiscriminately as an adult. Your dog will be hyperactive and uncontrollable because you have taught him to act that way. If your pup has not been taught to settle down by the time he reaches adolescence, he will be unfit to be taken places. Your pup will begin a lifetime of confinement and isolation at home while the rest of the family go out to have a good time. Not fair!

Until you have trained your puppy to enjoy spending much of his day at home alone, you might recruit a puppy sitter who has time to spend with him. Just a few houses down the street, there may live an elderly gentleman, for example, who would just love to live with a dog (but who doesn't for some reason) and therefore would be willing to come over during the daytime and sit and enjoy your TV or the contents of your fridge; maintain your puppy's confinement schedule and regularly reward him for using his doggy toilet; and periodically play with the pup and teach him household rules.

Separation Anxiety

Maintaining your puppy's confinement schedule when you are at home prepares your puppy to be calm when you are gone. Allowing a young puppy unrestricted access to you when you are at home quickly encourages him to become overly dependent, and overdependence is the most common reason why dogs become anxious when left at home alone.

Try your best to teach your puppy to enjoy his own company, to develop self-confidence, and to stand on his own four paws. Once your puppy is confident and relaxed on his own, he may enjoy all of his time with you when you are at home.

When leaving your puppy for hourly sessions in his short-term confinement area (dog crate), make a point to check how he fares when left in another room. For example, periodically confine your puppy to his crate in the dining room while you prepare food in the kitchen, then keep the pup in his crate in the kitchen while the family eats dinner in the dining room.

Most importantly, when you are at home, make certain to familiarize your puppy with his long-term confinement area (puppy playroom). Confining your pup when you're home enables you to monitor his behavior during confinement and check in on him at irregular intervals, quietly rewarding him for being quiet. Thus your pup will not necessarily associate his confinement area with your absence, but rather he will learn to look forward to time spent in his playroom with his special toys.

Give your puppy plenty of toys whenever leaving him on his own. Ideal chewtoys are indestructible and hollow (such as Kong and Premier products and sterilized longbones), as they may be conveniently stuffed with kibble and occasional treats which periodically fall out and reward the pup for chewing his toy. If your puppy is gainfully occupied with his chewtoy, he will fret less over your absence.

Additionally, leave a radio playing. The sound will provide white noise to mask outside disturbances. The sound of a radio is also reassuring, since it is normally associated with your presence. My Malamute Phoenix was quite partial to Classical music, Country, and Calypso. Oso prefers television, especially ESPN or CNN — the sound of reassuring male voices, perhaps?

When Leaving Home

Make sure to stuff a number of chewtoys with kibble and treats. Make sure to stuff a piece of freeze-dried liver into the tiny hole of each Kong, or deep into the marrow cavity of each bone. Place the tastily stuffed chewtoys in your puppy's long-term confinement area and shut the door… with your puppy on the outside! When your puppy begs you to open the door, let him in and shut the door, turn on the radio or television, and leave quietly. Your puppy's chewing will be regularly reinforced by each piece of kibble that falls out of the chewtoy. Your puppy will continue to chew in an attempt to extract the freeze-dried liver. Eventually your puppy will fall asleep.

When Returning Home

Do not acknowledge your puppy's presence with praise or petting until he retrieves a chewtoy. Once he brings you a chewtoy, use a pen or pencil to push out the piece of freeze-dried liver that your puppy has been unable to extract. This will impress your puppy to no end.

Dogs are crepuscular and quite happy to sleep all day and all night. They have two activity peaks, at dawn and dusk. Thus, most chewing and barking activity is likely to occur right after you leave your pup in the morning and just before you return in the evening. Leaving your puppy with freshly stuffed chewtoys and offering the unextracted treats when you return prompts your puppy to seek out his chewtoys at times of peak activity.

Jekyll-and-Hyde Behavior

Smothering your pup with attention and affection when you are home primes your puppy to really miss you when you are gone. A Jekyll-and-Hyde environment (lots of attention when you are there, and none when you are gone) quickly creates a Jeckyll-and-Hyde puppy that is completely confident when you are there, but falls apart and panics when you are gone.

If you allow your puppy to become overdependent upon your presence, he will be anxious in your absence. Canine anxiety is bad news for you and bad news for your pup. When stressed, dogs are more likely to indulge in bad habits, such as housesoiling, chewing, digging, and barking. Being anxious is also decidedly unpleasant for your dog.

During your puppy's first few weeks at home, frequent confinement with stuffed chewtoys is essential for your pup to develop confidence and independence. Once your puppy is quite happy busying himself with his chewtoys whenever left alone, you may safely allow your now well-behaved and confident pup to enjoy as much time with you as he likes, without the fear that he will become anxious in your absence.

Is It Really Separation Anxiety?

Most doggy "disobedience" and wanton house destruction occurring in the owner's absence has nothing to do with separation anxiety. In fact, separation relief might be a more precise and descriptive term. The dog chews, digs, barks, and soils the house only when the owner is absent because he has learned it would be foolhardy to indulge in these pastimes when the owner is present. Owner-absent misbehavior is an indication that the owner has tried to suppress normal and natural dog behaviors with punishment, rather than teaching the dog how to behave — namely, how to express his basic doggy desires in an acceptable fashion. Often the term “separation anxiety” is an excuse for a dog who is simply not yet housetrained or chewtoy-trained.

Adapted from AFTER You Get Your Puppy by Dr. Ian Dunbar

Training:  Home Alone