Creating Kinder, Gentler Experiences for Pets



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Puppy Party and Class Topics

Here is an opportunity to discuss concerns and questions about puppies and at the same time give puppies a chance to have fun and socialize together. Be prepared to answer questions, and collect information so that you can enroll pet parents in Positive Pet Parenting email lessons. You may want to give a few appropriate handouts, and encourage  Puppy Classes, Puppy Day Care/School, and/or refer them to a Pet Behavior History Analysis.

Housetraining and Portable Kennels

1.      Present kennels as natural dens for a dog, NOT jail or cruelty. Instead, encourage pet parents to think of a kennel as the dog’s very own “bedroom suite.”  This is one place to pamper the dog with a cushy mat and chew.

  • The dog is a den animal by instinct.
  • The dog feels secure in a room of his own.
  • The dog will instinctively try to keep his den (bedding area) clean, and therefore, will avoid urinating or defecating there.

2.      Discuss the kennel’s role in maintaining the dog’s safety.

  • Keeps puppies safe from small children, electrical cords, etc. when you can’t watch him.
  • Protects your house from destructive chewing and accidents.
  • Provides a safe, familiar way for the pet to travel.

3.      Provide tips for portable kennel training.

  • The kennel should be one and one half times the length of the adult dog, not counting the tail.  If too-large, it may lead to accidents in one corner.
  • Provide a comfy pad or towel that can be easily cleaned as a bed inside the kennel.
  • Give the puppy his last food and water of the day at least two hours before bedtime, and take the puppy out before bed.  Never leave food or water in the kennel overnight.
  • For the first few days, the puppy should be in the kennel unless someone is closely supervising him. Someone must be there to take the puppy outside every few hours, and praise him when he “goes” in the right spot. 
  • After a successful elimination, allow some supervised play time inside.  Interrupt him immediately when if he begins to "go" inside and take him to the designated toilet area. Accidents mean you gave too much freedom after elimination. Allow less next time, and gradually build up.  If you can’t be there, leave the kennel open in an enclosed papered area.
  • Always take the puppy outside after he eats. Young puppies cannot go much more than 4 hours without urinating, but even puppies 9-10 weeks old should make it through the night without problems.  If not, withhold water for 1-2 hours before bed, and give a last minute potty opportunity.
  • Give the puppy a safe (large enough) chew toy inside the kennel. Give him a treat each time you put him in the kennel. Initially feeding him inside the kennel may increase acceptance. 
  • Praise when he is inside the kennel, and ignore when he is outside until he is eager to go inside the kennel.
  • Be patient and consistent!

Socialization (Suspension may also be discussed)

1.      Present the concept of the canine animal with social orderbased on pack hierarchy.

  • The dog sees family as members of his pack.
  • In the pack hierarchy, people must be on top and the dog must be on the bottom.
  • The dog will try to bully the family members if he does not have his boundaries clearly defined.

2.      Engage participants in Gentling for puppies under four months of age

  • Have each owner suspend, hug, cradle, and roll his or her puppy over on its side and hold until he relaxes. Release if he panics.
  • Point out that this is a posture of deference to the dog and clearly establishes the leadership of the person on top.
  • Children in the family should be encouraged to practice the gentling with treats and adult supervision. 
  • Make sure that nothing bad happens while the pup is being held still.
  • Note that urinating at a person’s feet is another sign of submission and that punishment at that time will only lead to MORE submissive urination.

3.      Engage participants in “Pass the Puppy.”

  • Seat everyone in a circle.  Have each family pass their puppy to the person on the left. Participants should talk to their “new” puppy by name and pet and praise him.
  • Give each person a few cookies to feed any puppy that seems shy or frightened.  If the puppy refuses this, use a more appetizing treat.  Give the treat when the puppy is no longer scared.
  • After about a minute, pass each puppy to the next person, and continue this pattern until the puppies have gone around in a full circle.
  • Be sure to include any children present in your circle. Emphasize the importance of getting puppies comfortable around old people, young people, people with hats, people with beards, etc.
  • Note the puppies that seem frightened, and encourage their families to take these puppies out into society more and have visitors over frequently. Have a big, loud party at the puppy’s house. These pups may become “fear biters” if they don’t learn to trust people.
  • Insecure puppies often don’t trust the ability humans to do the leading and protecting  They may be getting confused by mixed signals.  Emphasize clear, simple cues and consistent behavior from the family

Collar Etiquette

1.      The Regular Collar

  • Emphasize the importance of wearing a collar at all times for control, and identification. Dogs on leashes are rarely hit by a car.
  • Demonstrate the proper fit of a collar by easily slipping two fingers between the collar and the dog’s neck. The collar should not slip over the dog’s head, but otherwise be a loose as possible.
  • Remind owners to check the fit of the collar regularly.  Tell horror stories of collars cutting the necks of growing puppies!

2.      The Choke Collar

  • Emphasize choke collars are not recommended and only used properly by experienced trainers. They should never be left on the dog.

3.      Canine Head Collars (highly recommended for large breeds)

  • A great tool to control pulling on the leash, barking, chewing, and other behavior issues. 
  • Effective means of preventing or controlling unruly, disobedient and "headstrong" dogs
  • The owner gains control gently through “pressure points” that dogs inherited from their wolf ancestors. 

Recommend Frequent Early Puppy Parties, Daycare and Socialization Classes

1.      Emphasize the importance of classes to socialize the puppy, to teach basic good manners, and to increase the puppy’s bonding to the owner.

  • Be ready to provide the names and phone numbers of reputable classes in your area if you will not be offering them yourself. Give starting dates and times for classes.

2.  Talk about examples of ideas taught in class. 

  • Won’t come when called: let the puppies play in the center of the circle, then have the owners call them back with leash pulls and lavish praise.  Then let them return to playing, so that the coming when called will not be associated with an end to the fun. Always praise the puppy that comes to a call, even when you want to punish him!

Risk Factor Management

1.      Spaying and neutering

  • Decrease risk of testicular, uterine, ovarian and mammary tumors.
  • Spayed and neutered pets live an average of two years longer than their intact counterparts.
  • Offer to notify clients when their puppies are old enough for spaying or neutering. (Reminders)

2.      Nutrition

Only premium foods are formulated to avoid the diseases most likely to affect the puppy later in life. Premium foods also make housetraining easier because they are more digestible and therefore there is less waste - or visits to potty.

Premium foods remove dangerous nutrient excesses, such as the salt that contributes to heart disease and phosphorus that contributes to kidney disease.

...::::::: Copyright 2000-Present  All Rights Reserved by Rolan Tripp, DVM  and Susan Tripp, MS, Animal Behavior Network and Associates :::::::...