Now that you have obtained a puppy, you have a very important job ahead of you. Housebreaking is a challenging but rewarding experience when done successfully. The following information will help you to understand the habits of your puppy, and assist you in teaching him where to urinate and defecate. A routine, constant supervision when you are at home, and confinement when you are not, will have most dogs housebroken within 12 weeks.
A puppy that is new to your home will need time to adjust. This can take up to three months, depending on the puppy’s age and level of confidence. Each puppy is an individual and will respond differently to having new caretakers, living in a new environment (indoors and out), and getting used to a new routine. Changes in diet and exercise, anxiety, and excitability are all factors that will affect your puppy’s behavior.
Taking Your Puppy Potty
At first, only take your puppy outdoors when it is potty time. If you have to wait for an elevator or walk a long way, carry the puppy or walk quickly, giving no time for the puppy to stop. Go directly to the spot you have chosen for his potty place, use the verbal command you have chosen, and repeat it over and over until you have success. Do not let the puppy leave the area you have chosen for his potty place. Upon success, immediately reward your puppy with plenty of praise and a little treat. Give the puppy only about ten minutes to get the job done. Once he does his business, you can then go for a walk or have a little playtime. If the puppy does not go, or does not completely empty out, return him to his crate, and try taking him out again in about a half an hour.
Whenever a puppy eats or drinks, he sets in motion a digestive sequence that often ends up with elimination. Shortly after finishing his meal, the puppy will have to go to the bathroom. This can be anywhere within a 30-minute period. So, when he’s done eating, don’t let him roam all over the house and don’t let him out of your sight. Watch for signs that the puppy has to relieve himself. Intense sniffing, pacing back and forth, and/or circling are signs that he “has to go.”
If you feed your puppy at the same time each day, you will be able to see a clear pattern of behavior develop. The number of meals per day that you feed the puppy will figure into the total number of times you can expect to have to take him out on a toilet mission. Feeding a highly digestible, premium formula food greatly assists in getting and keeping the puppy on a schedule. Young and/or small puppies need to be fed more often than older/larger puppies.
Suggested Feeding Schedule:
Very young or small puppies – 4 times a day or feed on demand
Puppies 3 to 6 months – 3 times a day
Puppies 7 months to adult – 2 times a day
Puppies usually need to urinate after waking from a nap or an overnight sleep. Once again, supervision is the key. If you don’t see the puppy wake up, you may miss seeing him relieve himself. Always be in a position to be able to hurry the puppy outdoors. Vigorous play can stimulate a puppy to urinate as well. A puppy may have trouble controlling the urge. He may squat suddenly, urinate and then resume play. Watch carefully, often sniffing the ground or floor as he circles will be the only sign. Generally speaking, a puppy has the capability of holding one hour for every month of age.
Some dogs use urine and feces to mark territorial boundaries. Even a young puppy may feel compelled to establish and protect his territory. This type of soiling (not related to normal elimination) can happen during the night if you sleep in separate quarters from the dog, or when you leave the dog alone in the house. Dogs are quite social. Many puppies become stressed and anxious when separated from their family. Un-neutered males often lift their leg indoors, not because they have to go, but rather as a way of posting a “No Trespassing” sign. BE SURE TO GET A MALE PUPPY NEUTERED BEFORE HE REACHES SEXUAL MATURITY. We recommend neutering be done by 6 months of age. Waiting to neuter until one or more years of age may not correct what has become a habit in marking territory. There are health benefits to neutering as well.
“Caught You in the Act!”
If you catch your puppy in the act, a deep firm “NO” is all that is needed to communicate your displeasure. If you succeeded in interrupting the act, get the puppy outdoors quickly and clean up when you get back. Hitting the puppy or rubbing his face in his waste is not necessary. Intimidation tactics work against relationships based on mutual trust and respect. Puppies love praise and want to please their masters. Supervision and consistency are essential. The puppy is always learning, even when you are not actively teaching. A puppy that is improperly supervised (you find more accidents than you see happen) may become confused as to whether or not he may eliminate indoors. Sometimes he gets yelled at and sometimes he doesn’t. A puppy that is carefully monitored understands very quickly what he may and may not do and usually becomes reliable much more quickly.
If you missed the event, when the puppy is very young, all you can do is clean it up and vow to be more diligent in watching. Correction is useless because the puppy does not remember doing it. Once the puppy is older, recognizes his smell, and remembers the command you use for elimination, you can take him to the accident and firmly scold him and reinforce verbally that he “goes potty outside.” When you cannot supervise the puppy, he should be crated or confined to a small, dog-proofed area.
Clean up all accidents with a commercial odor neutralizer. This type of product, which is available in pet stores and catalogs, breaks down the organic matter that causes the odor. Normal household cleaners will not neutralize the odor. If there is any residual odor left after cleaning, chances are good that the puppy will return to the spot again. Be sure to use the product correctly, or it will not work.
If you are thinking about paper training, consider what the end result is that you want for your puppy. Teaching a dog to eliminate indoors can cause confusion when he is away from home. Unless the dog is carefully trained to respond to a specific set of cues, he may have indoor accidents where you are visiting! Un-neutered males are particularly difficult to paper train because they want to lift their leg and leave their scent in many different places. Unneutered males must be trained to use only one indoor scent post. Some people are now experimenting with litter boxes. Again, it may work very well at home, but if you want your puppy to travel with you, you may have problems when away from home.
Crate Training - Security for your puppy
Many people associate kennel crates with imprisonment or punishment. It is actually a personal den or safe haven for the puppy. Crates minimize the stress and activity that comes with being left alone and having to deal with a large area. A crated puppy cannot pace back and forth or dart from window to window. He cannot work himself into a frenzy that also may include chewing and ransacking. These activities also lead to indoor accidents. Dogs are much more contented when they feel secure. Having his own personal “house” for when you are away will give your puppy the security he needs. It also assures you that he is behaving and you will be happy to see each other when you arrive home.
Puppies will try very hard not to soil their quarters. They like clean beds. This is the reason it is very successful to use crate training as part of your housebreaking regime. Most dogs enjoy tight spaces with little headroom. However, some dogs do need room to sprawl. Take notice how your dog uses space when he is let loose in a room. The size of the crate is very important. You may need to experiment a bit. If the dog soils the crate daily, it is probably too big. If the dog can curl up in one corner and soil the other corner, the crate is definitely too big. Do not put any absorbent bedding in the crate until you are sure that your puppy can control himself and keep it clean and dry. If the puppy continues to soil it, make sure that you are adhering to the correct schedule and the puppy has been fully exercised before being crated. Do not be late in getting the puppy out. A dog that is forced to soil his crate is a very unhappy dog. Generally speaking, a puppy has the capability of holding one hour for every month of age
Introduce the puppy to the crate slowly. Feed him in it, put his toys in it, and hide goodies inside it. It should be fun to go inside. Put a chew toy inside, close the door and stay nearby. Talk to him, laugh, and then let the dog out with a big “Hooray!” Increase the length of time he is in the crate in small increments. Distance yourself, too. Sit across the room, and then sit in the next room. If he begins to whine, a sharply spoken “Quiet!” is necessary. If he quiets, wait a moment or so and then let him out. As long as he complains he stays. Don’t reward a tantrum with freedom. If you’ve introduced the crate properly, and taken the time to make it fun, the puppy will be complaining not because he doesn’t like his accommodations, but instead because he can’t be with you when he wants to be.
***Note: In rare cases, some dogs will not accept being crated. For whatever reason, they become extremely anxious if confined. Some make every effort to escape. Signs of stress include incessant barking, shaking, trembling, extreme salivation and lathering. In most cases, the crate will be soiled repeatedly. If the dog becomes hysterical, do not force the issue. Some dogs just can’t be trained using crates.
Feeding and Watering
We feed Science Diet and provide you with some to take home with your new puppy. If you choose to switch your puppy to a different type of food, make the change gradually over a period of 7-10 days. Start with just the food we sent for a few days. On about Day 3 or 4 you may begin lessening the amount of the old food and increasing the amount of the new food. Continue the switch gradually until only the new food is being fed. We will provide specific feeding instructions when you get a puppy from us. Remember to provide your puppy with fresh water at all times. Typically, puppies need to stay on puppy food for about one year of age. Occasionally, if they are gaining weight too quickly a switch to a maintenance diet will need to be made sooner. Please communicate regularly with your veterinarian about body condition and nutrition.
***Special note for small pups: Every meal is important! Skipping a meal can result in hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) shock and death. Below is a list of things to try with "finicky" puppies to encourage them to eat. Please contact your veterinarian and us right away if any problems arise.
Strained Chicken Baby Food Always keep a jar on hand if your puppy wouldn't eat or needs help keeping blood sugar up due to poor appetite.
Soaking the food with warm water or broth
Canned Hill’s Prescription a/d® food
Hill's Science Diet Puppy® canned
Yogurt – plain, vanilla or banana flavored
Nutri-Stat® or NutriCal®
Puppies love the out of doors and going for walks. An active Russell can get plenty of exercise indoors, however, making them suitable for city environments or apartments. If you do have the opportunity to take your puppy for a run, the little one will enjoy it very much.
Shorty Jacks have a tendency to think they are quite a bit larger than they are! This can pose problems if they chase after moving objects such as larger dogs, people walking/running, etc. We recommend using a harness for walking your Shorty Jack. Harnesses are much safer than collars because they spread out the pressure over the dog’s chest area instead of just on the dog’s neck. A harness will also prevent long-term damage to a Shorty Jack's trachea from straining on a leash.
Grooming at Home
The younger you start trimming your puppies nails the better! You may trim the nails up to once a week at first to get them used to having their feet handled! Either ask us to show you when you pick up your puppy or ask your veterinarian on your first visit.
Start bathing your puppy every few weeks with an appropriate dog/puppy shampoo. Human shampoos are not balanced for the skin pH of dogs. We recommend a mild shampoo that is meant for puppies for routine cleansing. Do not use any medicated shampoos unless directed by your veterinarian.
When to go to your Veterinarian
At Hobbit Hill Jack Russells we feel that is very important for you to establish a working relationship with your veterinarian. Your puppy needs to have a physical exam very soon after you bring he/she home. (This is also required for activating our health warranty.) At this time, you and your veterinarian will be able set up a health care schedule according to their recommendations. It will also make you feel more comfortable asking them questions if you have any concerns about your puppy.
Some things to ask your veterinarian about:
Flea and Tick Prevention
Feeding/Nutrition (see ours also!)
Puppy class recommendations
Listed below are a few of the common problems that you should call your veterinarian about:
Diarrhea for more than one stool
Vomiting more than one single time
Refusal to eat (very important in small puppies)
Listlessness or lethargy
Excessive itching at ears, skin
Retained baby teeth
Normal for Puppies:
Slight jerking or shaking when sleeping
Whimpering during first night home
Puppy breath: puppies teeth just like babies and consequently get a raunchy smell to their breath occasionally
Vaccines and Wormings
Most puppies are born with worms that they obtain from the mother through the placenta and in the milk. Therefore, we worm all our puppies at least 2-3 times before they leave. We've also developed a comprehensive vaccination program for illnesses such as Parvovirus and Distemper that all puppies are likely to get. All treatments are recorded on a medical history that is sent with each puppy so your veterinarian knows what your new member of the family has had.
When you take your puppy to the vet for the first time, we recommend building a schedule for boosters in the puppy's future. Some veterinarians will work from our medical record, while others will completely disregard it. Most of the time, if the dog has not received a shot close to the time of the vet visit, this is not a serious problem. If, however, giving a vaccine too soon would be dangerous. PLEASE don't repeat vaccines that we have already given. We take great care to make sure your puppy has all the shots it needs and we carefully handle all vaccines to provide the best protection for your puppy.