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Best Behaviour

Posted Monday, 3 Feb 2014

Affiché : Monday, 3 Feb 2014

Gillian Ridgeway

The world of puppies is filled with questions for new owners, but this exciting and confusing time can be easily managed when you have the answers. Here are responses to the Top 10 questions we’ve been asked over the years.

How do I housebreak my puppy?

In a nutshell – supervise, schedule and praise. Get him outside frequently for bathroom breaks, especially if he’s been crated or involved in strenuous play, and right after eating. Crate your pup when you can’t supervise – dogs don’t like to soil their beds. Most can comfortably wait one hour for every month of life, plus one. This means that your four-month-old pup should be fine if left for five hours. Always praise lavishly when your pup eliminates outside. Do not punish him for accidents when you weren’t supervising.

How do I socialize my pup and introduce him to strange situations?

Socializing your pup means to the world he lives in, not just his four-legged buddies. Walking down the same streets to the same parks to visit the same people is not enough. Get him into the car for road trips, let him accompany you on your next trip to the pet-supply store, and make sure he’s accustomed to the noises of the real world. Feed him part of his meal or a tasty snack when he’s in a new environment, to show him in dog language that when the situation changes, good things happen.

My puppy pees almost every time I come into the room. How do I stop him?

Submissive urination is quite common in young pups. This is rarely a housetraining issue, so should not be considered an “accident.” The good news is that pups often grow out of it. The bad news is that in order to eliminate it, you have to ignore it. Ask your family and guests to pay attention to your pup only once they are well inside your house and not in the doorway. Teaching your pup some simple obedience words, such as Sit and Stay, will increase his confidence.

How do I teach my puppy to not chew our things?

This can’t be stressed enough: Supervision is the key. A pup with the run of the house will get into mischief. Make sure your pup has regular physical and mental stimulation. Put him into his crate or a puppy-proofed area of your house when you can’t supervise. Supply him with an assortment of chew toys and put away your shoes and valuables.

My puppy is aggressive and bites me. What should I do?

It is even more important to understand what not to do. Aggression does not lessen with more aggression. Keep the scene from escalating by being calm but clear. Immediately give your pup a time out so he’ll start to realize that if he bites, he loses out on all the fun. In severe cases, consult a professional dog trainer.

My puppy is so rough. How do I get him to play nicer with other dogs?

Playing with the other dogs is lots of fun if it is done with a few rules and manners. Watch your pup closely and if he’s getting overexcited, take him out of the group. Put a long line on your pup so you can be ready to step in and stop the roughhousing when necessary. Do a time out and re-focus him with a few obedience exercises before you allow him to rejoin his buddies.

How can I stop my puppy from jumping up?

The more a behaviour is rewarded, the more likely it is to occur. Teaching your pup what you want him to do is far more effective than yelling at him for what you don’t like. Teach a solid Sit and reward him for sitting quickly. Now, when he starts to jump, ask him to sit and reward him for doing as he’s told. You’ll soon see him race toward you and screech into a sit. Always remember to acknowledge him for what he’s doing right.

Should I take my puppy to obedience school? When is a good time?

Most trainers suggest starting classes when a puppy is between 10 and 14 weeks old – as soon as he gets the go-ahead from his veterinarian. Avoiding naughty habits is far easier than having to correct them later, and pups that learn at a young age often keep those learning skills throughout their lives. As well, your pup will have the oppor-tunity to interact with others his own age. Puppy classes are for the pet parent, too, and will start you off on the right paw. The trainers will be able to identify normal puppy behaviour, and give you the confidence to be successful in training.

My puppy is bothering my adult dog. Should I stop him?

Many dog owners think that the dogs should be left to sort it out. But not all adult dogs stop their young charges, and senior dogs deserve to have us step in and give them a break. Pestering an adult dog at home may inadvertently also teach the lesson that this is an acceptable way to interact with all dogs. Teach your pup manners in his own home first. The lessons learned now will serve him well in the future.

Will playing tug make my puppy aggressive?

Playing tug will not make your pup aggressive. Years ago it was thought to create aggression. We now know that playing tug is a great outlet and a great reward for many dogs. Of course, with tug comes “Drop it” and your dog must learn that you can end the game as quickly as you started it, which is a great lesson itself. So, go and have some fun with your pup!
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