Raising Calvin

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District Veterinary Hospital is proud to introduce our new chief of pet relations, Calvin T. Dog. Being a nine-week-old puppers, he’s in training, learning how to provide the best service and support to our furred friends. He’s also getting grips on where to pee. It’s a work in progress.

Calvin reminds me and the entire crew at District Veterinary Hospitals that raising a puppy requires more patience than one would think. We want our new friend to immediately understand that the outdoors is for eliminating and the coffee table is ornamental, not chewable.

The first weeks are akin to having a newborn at home. We must not lose patience and must understand that training takes time, dedication and quite a bit of pluck. I have learned that consistency and keeping training simple is the best path toward success.

Six Basic Rules

Here are the six basic rules of puppy training from my Puppy 101 class:

1. A tired puppy is a BETTER puppy (mentally and physically). It goes without saying that when they have energy and are bored, trouble ensues.

2. The Five Minute Rule for preventing separation anxiety. Use a dog crate starting immediately. Put your friend in a crate at least five minutes before you need him/her in the crate and then do not acknowledge any crying or whimpering. When you return, be present but do not engage for five minutes, then take your friend out to pee without any fanfare.

3. Reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior. If pup is barking, do not pay attention. Do not correct, do not say no, DO NOT ENGAGE. Remember, puppies see attention as a reward. If they are biting you, stand up and walk away. If you cannot get away, pick up the pup and put it in the bathroom for five minutes and ignore. Only give attention when you deem pup’s behavior to be appropriate.

4. Play with the toes, toenails, ears and teeth under the cheeks. This will get pup used to all these areas being touched, making nail trims, foot care, tooth brushing, grooming and ear treatment much easier down the road. Play with all of these for five seconds each, 10-30 times a day. Yes, really, that many times. You will be thankful in the long run.

5. Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs. So is chewing gum. Be wary of marijuana blunts on the sidewalk.

6. Have fun. Puppies are the meaning of life. And remember, it will turn out all right.

Housetraining

I selectively forget how much puppies drink and urinate. It’s amazing the capacity of their urinary bladder. When housetraining, the key to success involves trying to not let the pup fail. We take Calvin outside to eliminate at least hourly during the day. And giving praise when he achieves the mission. At night he is in a crate next to the bed. When we wake in the morning, we throw on some semblance of clothing and take him right out to the grass. Do not use puppy pee pads. They may be convenient but in the end all they do is train your dog to eliminate in the house!

You may find that the dog will be walked but not urinate, then urinate once inside. To train this out, walk the pup, and if you think it should have urinated/defecated but did not, return inside for 30 seconds, then take the pup outside again. This usually works to stimulate their elimination response.

For chewing on you, do not tolerate it! Simply put the dog down and ignore the behavior. Engaging in any meaningful manner is rewarding the behavior. They are so cute, but do not give in and do not get frustrated!

Proper Food

Use a well-formulated and established diet such as Purina ProPlan, Royal Canin or Science Diet. Many of the “boutique” foods on the market have little research behind them and may be detrimental to your pet in the long-term. This has been the experience of many veterinary professionals over the past years.

Resources

Some good resources for training and basic behavior include:

– “The Perfect Puppy in 7 Days” by Sophia Yin

– “Puppy’s First Steps: Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well-Behaved Dog” by the faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

– “Decoding Your Dog” by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

– “A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!” by Niki Tudge

– The canine behavior series on www.veterinarypartner.com

– Clicker training library on the Karen Pryor website at https://karenpryoracademy.com/what-is-clicker-training/.

– The Indoor Pet Initiative by Ohio State University

Raising Calvin is fun. It’s a challenge! Most important is that working with our new friend reminds us of the challenges and joys of puppies. Calvin works primarily at our Navy Yard and Eastern Market hospitals.

Dr. Teich is the medical director for District Veterinary Hospitals in Navy Yard, Eastern Market and Brookland. Visit www.districtvet.com for more information.