Getting Ready for Training
Chapter 3: Getting Ready for Training
In this chapter:
Preparing your dog’s living spaces
Buying the equipment and supplies you will need for training
I’m old enough to remember when displays of canine training gear at veterinary clinics and pet stores offered a limited selection of collars, leashes, and a few chew toys. Our choices today for pet training equipment seem endless, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused when you visit a pet super store or even peruse the pet section of eBay.
You don’t need to own the latest in gadgetry to train your dog. It’s more important that you form the proper leadership role with your dog than that you attempt to coerce him with a shock collar or ultrasonic device.
In this chapter, you learn about some of the equipment and supplies you’ll want to have on hand when you begin training your dog. I’m going to be conservative and suggest basic equipment, and, where appropriate, alert you to products that you might consider if your budget allows for extras in the dog care arena or if your friends are hosting a shower for your new pooch.
To do list
Choose a crate or dog house
Select a potty training method
Decide on an area in your home and/or yard in which to locate your dog’s toilet
Preparing Your Dog’s Spaces
A wild or domesticated canine establishes a den—a place to feel safe, snug, and protected from the outside world. For the most part, your pet’s den will be a crate, kennel, or dog house. His territory, which is the space he will guard from intruders, may extend to the entire house or backyard. His bathroom will be located in an area you select within this territory.
Things You’ll Need
Crate, kennel, bed, or dog house
Exercise pen or baby gate
Water and food bowls
Soft towel or fleece baby blanket
Choosing and Locating the Crate
A crate (plastic, wire, or soft sided) becomes your puppy’s den within your home. We want to take advantage of a dog’s natural tendency to keep his den clean. Wild dogs and wolves eliminate in a place outside their den and away from where they eat and sleep.
Purchase a crate commensurate with the size of your dog or puppy. It should be large enough for the dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but refrain from buying the Taj Mahal model. You don’t want the dog to think he has enough space to eliminate in one end of his crate and eat and sleep in the other. If you own a large breed puppy, you might have to buy a series of crates over time to allow for his increasing size, or, opt for a crate with dividers.
I suggest that you put the crate in an area of your home which is close to family activity without being in the middle of the action. You might find a space within the laundry room, kitchen, or mud room that will accommodate the crate. Most of these rooms have the added advantage of smooth, easily cleaned flooring. Enclose the room with a baby gate or use expandable exercise pens to create a puppy playpen within the room.
As seen in Figure 3.1, make the pup’s crate welcoming by adding a soft towel or blanket. Later, you will introduce your dog to his new den by placing his water/feed bowls, toys, and treats inside.
Figure 3.1 Your puppy’s crate is his home within your home.
Choosing and Locating the Dog House
Many of the same principles for selecting/placing a crate apply to selecting and placing a dog house. You can opt for a generic plastic igloo, or you can design or purchase a dog house resembling your own home or Cinderella’s castle. Regardless, the house you select ought to be an appropriate size for your dog and protect him from the outside elements.
The dog should be able to stand up and look out the door without crouching and should be able to stretch out in a comfortable sleeping position. Locate the house in a well-drained area of the yard or patio and avoid facing it toward the prevailing wind or setting sun.
Things You’ll Need
Pooper scooper and bags
Paper or canine litter or sod box system
Preparing for Yard, Paper, or Litter Box Training
One of the first acts of training you and your puppy or dog embark on together is that of toilet training. Choose the method you use carefully. Puppies that are paper and litter box trained can be taught later to go outside in the yard or park; however, surface (substrate) preferences imprinted early in life might be difficult to change at a later date.
Selecting an Outside Toilet
Choose a location in your yard that will be used specifically as the dog’s potty, and give preference to an area that is a direct route out one of your home’s doors. You will want to use the same door every time you take your puppy outside as you want him to learn to associate the act of going out the door and walking to this particular spot with the act of "going potty."
Paper and Litter or Sod Boxes
If you live in a high-rise apartment, have adopted a puppy during inclement weather, or want to avoid taking your dog outside late at night, consider training him to eliminate on paper or in a litter box or sod container.
If you choose newspapers or commercial potty training pads for your paper system, place them inside a small contained area opposite your puppy’s crate and feeding and water bowls. Keep the papers in the same location, and place a damp bottom paper on top of the new ones when you change papers to provide an odor clue that this is indeed the bathroom.
Second nature by Purina is an inexpensive litter box system for small dogs (less than $20 for pan and instructions at most pet stores). The litter is larger than that used for cats and is made from absorbent paper. Boxes come in three sizes with the largest accommodating dogs up to thirty-five pounds. Place the box near the dog’s crate or bed but not directly adjacent to it. Define your dog’s territory, containing his crate/bed and litter pan, using your expandable exercise panels or baby gate.
A California company named PetaPotty offers a canine sod-based system, as shown in Figure 3.2. This company makes several container sizes that can be placed adjacent to each other to form a toilet system for larger dogs. You select real or artificial grass turf for the substrate material.
When your dog urinates in the box, waste drains through the turf and into a concealed trap pan. It is recommended that you flush the sod with water from a hose or bucket several times per week. Solid waste should be scooped and flushed down your commode. Depending on the size of dog and number of dogs using the system, you will have to replace grass sod every couple of months. The PetaPotty can be placed on a boat deck, patio or balcony, or within the apartment itself.
Figure 3.2 Consider PetaPotty’s sod container system for dogs confined on boats or in high-rise apartments.
For more information about PetaPotty, call (866) 738-7297 or visit the company’s website at http://www.petapotty.com. This system ranges in cost from $180 to $260.
To do list
Choose collars and leash
Buy treats and toys
Select cleaning supplies