While this section is intended to provide information to you, it is by NO means the answer to all of your questions. Many situations are unique, and there is no substitute for accurate, personalized information! Please contact Val if you have any questions.
House Training / Crate Training
When you bring home that small furry bundle of joy, you may be surprised at how often that puppy needs to eliminate. If you want to do things ‘properly’ initially you should provide opportunities to go outside almost every 20 minutes when your puppy is awake, and not confined in a crate. This may seem excessive at first, but it’s best and easiest if you start off with good habits early. If you are taking your puppy out every 20 minutes or so, and you are still having difficulty with urination accidents, consult your veterinarian about a possible urinary tract infection.
You should have a crate ready the day you bring your puppy home. (Hint: Many crates are available for sale in local papers, or websites such as Craig’s List – www.craigslist.org) Many people choose to start off with the crate being in a first floor room, such as a kitchen or laundry area. But, keep in mind that when you (and your family) head off to bed, the puppy may feel abandoned or alone, and cry. Some puppies will cry more than others, and some not at all. An alarm clock as a replacement companion is a widely spread suggested, again, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I personally bring the crate into my bedroom at night. The dogs learn that our pack travels together, and sleeps together. With the crate in my room, I can hear the puppy stirring and decide whether it is time to take it outside, or not. Then, as adult dogs, they have been conditioned to sleep nearby me.
How long can you crate a puppy?
A general rule for how long a puppy can be crated during the day goes like this:
One Hour for One Month of Age – meaning if your puppy is 3 months old, only expect him to hold it for up to 3 hours in the crate at a time. This rule applies up to 8 hours. I don’t believe in crating any dog – at any age – more than 8 hours with no breaks. This is unfair. Generally, your puppy should be able to hold it overnight (six hours or more) after about 12 weeks of age.
Should I paper train my puppy?
Only use this method if you plan to ‘forever’ clean up dog waste in your home. There are certain circumstances where paper training may make sense, such as for a senior citizen or a person in an apartment building, with a toy breed dog. One thing to understand though, is that by using papers, you are not teaching your puppy how to HOLD IT when the urge to eliminate strikes. It takes constant monitoring to housebreak a puppy correctly for the about the first six months. If its done correctly though, it will last a lifetime.
Traveling With Your Dog / Puppy
The vision of having your canine companion go with you on excursions doesn’t have to be only a vision. With proper planning and consideration for the “non-dog loving” public, your dog can travel with you to many places. There are many things to consider though. First of all, will taking your dog along be enjoyable, or will it cause stress and aggravation for you or the dog? It is important to face reality with this one. Your dog should be well-trained, accustomed to crates, be non-destructive, and be social to all types of people, children and other animals. Taking a dog that doesn’t walk nicely on a leash, or one that hates other dogs can quickly ruin a vacation. Second question to ask: Is your dog healthy and does it like to travel on short trips with you? If your dog is elderly, sick, or gets car sick, it might be a better choice to enlist a kennel or dog sitter while you are away. The third question is, are you willing to include the dog in your vacation schedule? This means early morning walks, late night walks, and periodic check-ins of your dog while you do other activities that don’t include him. Leaving your dog in a parked car in the shade is not acceptable for long periods of time. Your dog should be kept quietly in its crate while you do those other activities. You may have to choose a different hotel that will accept dogs. Often these hotels will charge a pet fee (sometimes refundable) to allow you to have your dog. If you answered yes to all three questions, then do your homework.
Being prepared means having a good trip with your dog. You should check into the hotel and surrounding areas where you are planning to visit, to see if there are any restrictions. For instance, you notice there is a nice lake nearby, but are dogs allowed on the beaches? Many national parks do not permit dogs, simply because of the wild life that the parks are trying to preserve. These are the types of questions you need to ask ahead of time.
You should have your pet vaccinated and checked for worms/parasites well before you leave. Take along a copy of those records “just in case” something happens. If your dog should have a scuffle with another dog, you will quickly be able to prove that your dog is current on its shots. A current photo kept in the glove box could also be important, should your dog become lost or stolen. Of course, a collar with ID tags is mandatory. You can quickly attach a luggage tag with the phone number of where you are staying to stay current with your travels.
Some items to consider taking with you: Crate, short leash, long leash, exercise pen (if applicable), dog food, food and water bowls, *bottled water or water from home, a brush, plastic bags, a spare collar, any medication (flea or heartworm pills etc.), several sheets or towels to keep dog hair to a minimum, and some toys from home for exercise and play purposes. A first aid kit should include Imodium or Pepto Bismol tablets (for diarrhea), Benedryl (bee stings), bandage wraps, cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide (for infection or also to induce vomiting if needed), Q-tips and a knife or scissors.
*Many dogs are sensitive to changes in water when you travel. These sensitivities can cause severe diarrhea, which can ruin a trip quickly. By having bottled water, you can be sure to avoid this problem no matter what area you are planning to visit. If you will be staying in one area for a long period of time, you can slowly integrate the local water with the bottled water until your dog’s system adjusts.
Should I Spay or Neuter My Dog?
Many people have misgivings about having their pet spayed or neutered. Dogs, however, are not ruled by the same needs and priorities that people are. They do not yearn for the pitter-patter of little feet. Also, without the “call of the wild,” a dog is a better, happier, healthier pet.
For females: Statistically, every heat cycle that she goes through increases the likelihood of mammary tumors by a factor of 10. So, if a female has had 5 heat cycles by the age of 2 ½, she is 50 times more likely to have tumors than a female who was spayed before a heat cycle. More than half of mammary tumors are cancerous. There are also other health risks that can be serious and potentially life threatening. Unspayed females can have behavior altering patterns before and during their heat cycles, and these behaviors can extend up to 8 weeks past the end of their cycle. These behaviors include nesting, whining, seeking seclusion, digging to create a nest (could be outside in the dirt, or on your guest bed!), all signs of “false pregnancy.” This phenomenon is where the female dog goes through an entire pregnancy without being pregnant. She will nest, gather up all her toys and nurse them, and carry them about the house whining and pacing anxiously. She can potentially become more aggressive during this stage. This behavior can last up to the point that the “puppies” are taken away from her, at which time she may go into depression or anxiety.
For males: As with females, intact male dogs are more predisposed to health risks. These involve the prostrate gland, bladder functions, and testicular tumors. Many of the activities associated with breeding (i.e. marking and dominant behaviors) have a 60 percent chance of becoming habit with your dog. This means that once your dog has decided to mark in your house, the odds are that the behavior will not subside once the dog is neutered. Other behavioral problems associated with an intact male dog include incessant sniffing, whining or pacing for unknown reasons (usually a female in heat within a radius of 5 miles of your home), and often they will go off their food, which results in weight loss. A male dog will roam many miles from home to find the chance to reproduce. Roaming in this day and age is dangerous, and often has an unhappy ending for someone. One other side effect can be aggression. Intact male dogs can often become dog aggressive, particularly with other intact male dogs. Intact male dogs are also categorized as being more aggressive, towards people and even their owners.
If you really feel the need to breed your male dog, there is one option that allows you to have your cake & eat it too. You can have your dog’s semen frozen (not cheap, but not as expensive as it sounds) to have available for a later date and time. This will allow your dog to be neutered at an earlier age before some behavior problems develop, and in the event that you have decided to breed for the right reasons, the semen can be shipped.