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The Sad Case of the Piddling Pup
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Thu Mar 04 2010, 10:23PM

Registered Member #3
Joined: Sun Feb 28 2010, 10:31PM
Posts: 122

The Sad Case of The Piddling Pup

The young woman, who was obviously pregnant, brought her six-week-old Yorkie in for its first inoculation. As usual with any new puppy-owner, I explained to her what was required over the next few months regarding inoculations, de-worming, training, etc.

She said: "I'm in big trouble Doc, I've got a small toddler, my next one is due in a month and this puppy is not potty trained! Can you help me to paper train her please?"

I'm always keen to help a pretty young lady, so I started asking her some questions:

" Where do you keep the puppy? In the house or outside?"

" Inside the kitchen, Doc. I barricade her in there otherwise she messes all over the apartment! If I leave her for a minute, she howls pitifully! Please tell me how to paper-train my puppy and stop her from crying all the time. She keeps us and the neighbours awake at night!"

She told me that they lived in a third-floor apartment and that it would be difficult for her to take her puppy outside.

" Is it completely impossible for you to take the puppy to do her business outside after a meal and a nap?"

" Yes it is impossible because I work during the day and I'm exhausted by the time I get home. Don't you want to show me how to paper-train her?" My heart sank. Paper-training is not usually recommended. Sooner or later the dog will have to go outside. Why train it to go inside the apartment and on paper at that? How can you expect a pup to distinguish between its special 'toilet' paper and any other paper that may be lying around? Unfortunately this lady was extremely stubborn. She was adamant that I had to teach her how to paper-train her pup.

I tried to convince her that perhaps for hygienic reasons she should think about giving the puppy back to the breeder because very soon she would have her hands very full with the new baby. Besides that, the baby would start crawling after a few months. Having dog poo and urine all over the kitchen floor was certainly not the best thing for a crawling baby to encounter. My personal view was that her husband had been rather foolish to have given her a pup for Christmas, under the circumstances. I began to suspect that she had probably nagged him for a puppy and that he had given in after many arguments. So now she couldn't back down and give up the puppy without losing face.

She actually became very cross with me for making such a 'cruel' suggestion - which made me feel a twinge of sympathy for her husband. I gave her the best advice I could, under the circumstances. She followed my advice and three weeks later, when she came in for her puppy's second inoculation, she was smiling from ear to ear and thanked me profusely for my advice.

[ Edited Thu Mar 11 2010, 08:45PM ]
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Thu Mar 11 2010, 08:47PM

Registered Member #3
Joined: Sun Feb 28 2010, 10:31PM
Posts: 122

This is the advice I gave my client:

"You are obviously dead-set against teaching your pup to go outside to do her business. I can understand this, but please remember that I think this would be a better solution than the one I'm going to suggest to you!"

She said with a frown, "Listen Doc, I'm not going to do that. It's not practical for me, so you may as well tell me how to paper train my pup!"

I told her, "I don't think paper training is the best solution, but a slight modification of paper training may work."

Her face brightened immediately.

I explained, "The first thing you'll have to do is to get your husband to make a wooden crate for your puppy to sleep in. The crate should be about 3 ft (92cm) x 3 ft. It should have a base covered with waterproof material and be easily washable. The sides must be high enough to stop the pup from getting out by herself. Place a nice soft pillow at the bottom of the crate and put all her toys in there as well.

"The second thing your husband will have to do is make a slightly smaller crate, say with a 2ft (61cm) x 2ft base and 3inch (7.5cm) sides. You should line this second crate with impermeable plastic and place some cat litter (preferably the clumping kind) inside. This litter tray should be placed as far away from the "bed" crate as possible.

"You'll have to set aside a whole weekend to get her used to her new "den". In the beginning, you should place her in the crate as often as possible and make a huge fuss of her when you put her in there. Encourage her to play with her toys in there and reward her with one or two of her regular small breed puppy kibbles. (Don't give her too many as this might set off a reflex for her to do her business in the crate!) She will probably soon fall asleep, as most puppies tend to do. You can now safely leave her there.

"Especially during this training phase, as soon as she wakes up, place her in the litter tray. She will probably have a full bladder, so she will want to empty it as soon as she wakes up. If she jumps out of the litter tray, gently pick her up and place her back in there until she does what you want her to do. As soon as she performs, praise and pet her and have some quality playtime with her. At other times she may start showing signs of being uncomfortable or rush around looking for a place to do her business. As soon as you see her doing this, pick her up and put her in the litter tray.

"For the first three months, feed her good quality small breed puppy pellets four times daily if possible - usually early in the morning when you get up, shortly before leaving for work, when you arrive home from work and before you go to bed. If she doesn't finish her meal, don't leave the pellets in her bowl. Pick up the bowl and put it out of reach or empty the contents back into the container. Immediately after the meal, pick her up and put her in the litter tray. Now go through the whole routine as I explained to you before. You should check the stools to see if they're firm. Don't forget to praise and play with her afterwards".

Impatiently she said, "OK I understand all that, but what about at night? She howls when I leave her barricaded in the kitchen!"

Soothingly I said: "I'm coming to that! Your biggest challenge will definitely be at night. When you're ready for bed yourself, give her a meal and then place her in the litter tray. After that, try to settle her down inside the crate on her bed. If she insists on playing, turn your back on her and ignore her completely. She may cry a few times but be quite ruthless at this time and don't ever pick her up and comfort her. You're supposed to train her, not the other way round. The minute you pick her up, you reward her for inappropriate behaviour. She may go on crying for what seems like hours. It may be very difficult for you, but you'll have to force yourself to ignore her and go to bed. Don't fall into the trap of going back and picking her up. She will eventually be exhausted and fall asleep. You can put a ticking clock or a portable radio on at low volume near the crate. This should soothe the pup during the night.

"She may wake up during the night and start crying. Please ignore her. She will eventually go to sleep again. After about two nights, she should sleep through until morning. Don't forget to start the litter-tray routine as soon as she wakes up. After a few days' training, she should go to her litter tray without you having to put her in there. If she does have an accident outside the litter tray and you see her doing it, quickly grab her and put her in the litter tray and praise her. Don't ever rub her nose in it and smack her. This is counter-productive and you will merely succeed in making her fearful. This may cause her to urinate even more whenever she sees you coming!"

I'm pleased to say that the young lady came into the surgery the other day to show off her new baby. She was smiling and thanked me profusely. She'd followed my instructions to the letter. She said the pup still had the occasional accident, but mostly went voluntarily into her litter tray. I inwardly gave a sigh of relief. When I gave my pretty young client advice, I wasn't at all sure that she would follow my instructions - especially given the stubborn streak she revealed when she first spoke to me!

The advice I gave her was based on the following principles:

1. Dogs will seldom, if ever, soil their own "den".

2. Dogs, (like children!) will soon stop doing something inappropriate if they don't get a reward for doing it. (Scolding, even smacking can be a reward if you crave attention)

3. Routine and repetitive actions soon become a habit. Make sure it's a good one!

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