puppy dog

Chihuahua puppy on carpet

Housebreaking Your Puppy (Without Losing Your Mind)

There are lots of things to look forward to when adopting a puppy: cuddling, playtime, kisses, and the pitter-patter those four tiny little feet. One thing that dog owners do not look forward to, however, is housebreaking their new puppy. A notoriously challenging task that can try your patience and lead to some embarrassing moments, housebreaking is a necessary part of puppyhood.

Dog Tails’ Puppy Month continues with the best advice we can find to quickly and successfully train your puppy to “go outside.” Trust us, we’ve been through it all with our dogs, so we understand!

Based on our experience and what we’ve learned from dog trainers around the country, we believe that there are three universal rules of housebreaking your puppy:

1) Consistency

Dogs thrive on routine, especially when they are young. Housebreaking is no exception. The “Dog Whisperer” himself, Cesar Millan, asserts that daily consistency is the key to successfully housebreaking your dog.

Basset Hound sitting in front of doorEven before you bring your puppy home for the first time, work with your family to a devise a daily dog schedule. Meals, walks, playtime, sleep, trips outside – try work in these activities at the same time every day. Your puppy will soon learn to associate these times with these activities. “7:00AM, I eat. 7:30AM, I go outside. 8:00AM, I play with toys…”

When creating this schedule, be sure to include plenty of “potty breaks,” and not just first thing in the morning and before bed. A good rule of thumb from the Humane Society of the United States: a puppy can typically control his bladder for one hour for every month of age. Because of this fact, Millan suggests scheduling “potty breaks” at various times throughout the day, including immediately following each meal, after waking up from a nap and after long play sessions.

Finally, be aware and vigilant about where your puppy spends his time in your home. Set clear rules about what rooms are off-limits to the puppy, and make sure everyone (even the kids and visitors), follows them. You can use baby gates to help enforce these rules, or you can talk to your DogWatch dealer about indoor hidden boundary solutions.  These safe, small, wireless systems will teach your dog to recognize “off-limits” areas, such as formal rooms, kitchen counters, couches and even the cat litter box. Your DogWatch dealer can help you design a system for your home, and work with you to determine the right age for your puppy to start training with an indoor boundary system.

We know it will be challenging to fit a rigid schedule into your fast-paced, crowded, multi-tasking life. Just remember: establishing a routine and sticking to it is the fastest way to rid your house of puppy “accidents.”

2) Commitment

Neglecting the routine, on the other hand, can quickly lead to housebreaking failures and months of frustration. This brings us to the second rule of housebreaking – be committed. Teaching your dog important lessons like housebreaking when they are young is a great way to set up your pet for a healthy, well-behaved future.

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Welcome Home, Puppy! Introducing Your New Dog to Your Other Pets

Your puppy checklist is complete, and you’ve purchased everything from chew toys to puppy pads to a monogrammed food dish. You’re almost ready to bring home your new arrival, but in the excitement you forgot about one thing: your other pets.

Well, we’ve got you covered. Week 3 of Dog Tails’ Puppy Month is all about introductions. We’ve consulted the experts, and shared their rules, tips and tricks with you. Learn the correct steps to a successful first meeting between puppy and the resident pet, and hopefully it will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And don’t forget to capture these eventful first meetings with your camera – a perfect way to preserve the memory AND a perfect way to capture a great image to enter into our Puppy Photo Contest on Facebook!

dog and catIntroducing Your Puppy to Your Cat

The most important rule of introducing your new puppy to your cat is to take it slow.  When it comes to a dog and a cat’s first meeting, do not just open the door and let them chase each other.  Instead, let the two animals slowly move closer to each other, while maintaining control of them at all times. For this reason, it is best to have another person help with the introductions, so that both animals can be quickly pulled away if necessary. Finally, for particularly nervous cats and boisterous pups, we suggest starting off with the pets in crates placed near each other, or separated by a baby gate.

On your puppy’s first day home, schedule sufficient time for the introduction. The best time for it is often after your puppy has had some exercise and a meal. This will put him or her in a more calm mood for what can be a stressful situation for all involved.

During the introduction, be sure to reward good behavior. As always, treats are helpful signal for both animals. Ask the puppy to look away from the cat and look at you. If he complies, give him a treat – he is doing very well! If he does not comply, continue working with the dog to calm him down and divert his attention away from the animal. Toys and treats and words of praise are all helpful here.

Finally, don’t forget about your cat in these whirlwind first days. Make sure to give your cat plenty of time and space to adjust to this new situation. You should designate areas that are off-limits to your puppy. The blog Raising Spot suggests giving your cat “safe zones” where she can roam peacefully and not feel “evicted” by the puppy.

One last note: some dogs will need more guidance and training than others – it depends on the dog’s breed, and prior history. It is also important to remember that some dogs may not be suitable for a home with a cat or cats. Certain breeds – specifically, sighthounds (greyhounds, whippets, etc.), pit bulls and terriers – are more likely to be aggressive towards cats. We says this not to malign these wonderful breeds, but to prepare you. Some aggressive and predatory dogs may attack or even kill a cat if left unsupervised.  This activity could occur even if the dog and cat appear to get along when you are present; as a result, experts recommend separating the animals when you leave the house.

Luckily, starting early is often the key to a good dog-cat relationship. According to the ASPCA, puppies raised with cats are less likely to be predatory towards them as they grow older.  Most dog experts report that nearly any dog can learn to live comfortably around cats, if they are properly introduced and trained.

Introducing Your Puppy to Your Dog

When it comes to dog-dog introductions, the same basic rules apply: take it slow, reward good behavior, and be alert. At the same time, resident dogs require their own set of tips and tricks.

One of our favorite dog sites, Dogster, suggests starting with your dog’s strongest asset: his nose. Prepare both your new puppy and your current dog(s) by letting them sniff objects with each other’s scents (for example, toys, towels, beds or even you own clothes). These “smelling sessions” give the dogs opportunities to pick up information about each other and be prepared for their first meeting.

When the big day comes, we suggest enlisting a family member or friend to assist you. That way, each pet has his own handler, who can give treats and encouragement for good behavior, and, importantly, can pull a dog away if he or she senses hostility or aggression. If your current dog has a history of aggressive behavior towards other dogs, we strongly recommend that you hire a skilled professional dog trainer to supervise and guide you through the introduction process.

dog and puppyThe initial introduction should take place in a “neutral” area – such as your neighbor’s yard or a nearby park. That way, your resident dog will be less protective of his turf. Allow the dogs to approach each other slowly. If the puppy is very small, ask your assistant to hold him while you allow your bigger dog to watch and sniff briefly. After a few of these quick “visits,” you can start to put the puppy down and slowly walk him towards the older dog.

With all dog-dog introductions, start with short periods of sniffing and greeting, followed by time apart. Be alert at all times during these meetings, and watch out for aggressive behaviors, such as hair standing up on one dog’s back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff-legged gait, or a prolonged stare. If you notice any of these behaviors, separate the dogs immediately. Distract both dogs with toys and treats, and reward them when they switch their attention away from the other dog and back to you. Once they both have calmed down, you can try again.

As with most dog training tasks, consistency is key. Repeat these meetings over and over again, extending them a little bit each time. Once they are comfortable together, try the introductions at home, again starting with quick meetings and then gradually increasing the length. Stay positive and patient – it will help you and your dogs get through the process much more smoothly. Eventually, if all goes well, you can progress to group walks and off-leash play sessions!

For those of you blessed with a full house of dogs, experts suggest introducing new puppies to one resident dog at a time – for your sake and the dogs! Another good tip for multiple dogs: start with the least excitable dog first, and work your way up to the feistiest one!

We hope these tips help your new puppy make a great first impression! Share you own experiences here in the comments, or via Facebook. And don’t forget to check back soon for more Puppy Month fun!

Dog and cat photo by fazen via Flickr.

Dog and puppy photo by Jim Winstead via Flickr.

Dog News Review 2010

As we begin an New Year (and a new decade!), it seems like a good time to review some of the 2010 highlights. We saw economic struggles, a Winter Olympics, the oil spill in the Gulf, the health care debate, the continued rise of Facebook, and many more unforgettable events. And since there aren’t enough lists at this time of year (just kidding!), we have compiled our own. In the first DogTails post of 2011, DogWatch Hidden Fences gives you our first annual “Dog News Review,” featuring the most memorable dog stories of the past year.


Birthday dogOne of our favorite dog photos of the year first premiered way back in January. That’s when Maureen Ravelo snapped a photo of her Bichon Frise-poodle enjoying a special treat on his birthday. The resulting photo (shown at left) captured an unbelievably expressive and contented smile on the one year-old dog’s face. The image quickly became a sensation after a friend posted it on the sharing site Reddit.com. For more info on the story, and to see Riley in action, click on the photo to watch a video of the famous dog and his owner on NBC’s “Today” show.


One of our favorite parts of Super Bowl XLIV did not actually take place in Miami. While we applaud the New Orleans Saints’ victory, we confess that we didn’t watch all of the pre-game coverage. Instead, we switched over to Animal Planet from 3-5PM, when it aired its sixth annual “Puppy Bowl.” The event, which is even cuter than it sounds, features lots of adorable puppy playing, aerial coverage of the “field”, rabbit cheerleaders and a kitty halftime show. We can’t wait for Puppy Bowl VII – oh, and Super Bowl XLV, too.


It was the chomp seen ’round the world. Winston, a Pit Bull-Boxer mix, got loose from his yard and attacked a police car, eventually chewing off the entire front bumper. And it was all caught on tape! The amazing video made headlines around the world, and sent Winston to the shelter for a few weeks before being released to his family. The trainers supported his owners’ claim that Winston is a “sweet dog,” but a judge did order obedience training for the powerful pup. Winston’s owner promises that Winston will be “a model citizen” from now on – but just in case, he will add some extra protection in his yard in case a police car drives by again.

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Five Ways Dogs Can Change Your Life

rescue_puppyBeing a dog owner is not easy.  To raise a dog properly, you need to devote time, money and passion to the job.  Moments of frustration are bound to occur, and at regularly intervals.  Successes are often followed by small failures and false starts.  You may even lose your favorite pair of shoes to your puppy’s teeth.

As any dog owner can tell you, however, all of that effort is worth it.  Bringing a dog into your home will change your life.  Your dog’s unconditional love, unsinkable spirit and unabashed smiles can improve your health and well-being in many ways.

To prove our point, Dog Tails has compiled a list of the top 5 ways that dogs can change your life for the better.  Read on, and learn more about how these amazing creatures make our lives better every day.

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