All puppy training takes time and effort, but the results are worth it.
The way a breeder trains puppiesvaries from breeder to breeder -- and these things can change as experiences dictate. Following are tips on supplies and methods that have proven to work well.
- A fence or gate to contain the puppies. Start small, and expand as the puppies grow. Make sure the fence material could not allow a puppy’s foot or head to get caught in any opening.
- Floor covering. A piece of vinyl flooring can be used, if the current floor needs to be protected.
- Paper -- regular newspaper, unprinted newspaper end-rolls, or “pee pads.”
- A small, square piece of outdoor carpeting.
- One small crate. Ultimately each puppy will have his own crate.
- A comfortable sleeping area. Do not use material or rags that can easily shred, since small puppies can get tangled in loose threads that can unravel at the ends of a cloth.
- A designated “elimination area” that is portioned off from the other parts of the puppies’ fenced-in area.
- A variety of toys and items they can climb onto or hide under.
- A food bowl. One might use the typical round puppy-feeding bowl that has a bump-up in the middle, or a skinny, long, rectangular trough. Either is followed by individual bowls as the puppies mature.
- A small water bowl. Be careful to not leave a water bowl in with very small puppies, however. They can drown in even a small bowl.
- Plastic bags or a covered trash-bucket for all the soiled puppy papers.
Divide and Conquer
- The puppies’ area should be divided into four specific spaces, for four different purposes: sleep, play, eat, and defecate/urinate.
- Place the play area closest to the side you use when you come into the room. Since puppies usually run to that area, and you would not want them stepping into something they shouldn’t. I also place a piece of indoor-outdoor carpeting in this area, to give the puppies better traction as they run and play. Vary their toys periodically.
- Place the “poop” area furthest away from your typical greeting area. Some people actually place a solid divider within the puppy enclosure with an opening, so puppies have to go through the opening before they poop. I allocate an area the size of an open New York Times newspaper and place a very thin piece of wood down to secure the start of that area. The few pages of newspaper are covered with a sheet of clean, unprinted paper on top. Believe it or not, puppies learn to use that area even before their eyes are totally opened. Make the pups get used to a clean environment by cleaning out this area several times a day.
- A small, single crate for sleeping is used when the puppies are very young. Initially I remove the crate door so the puppies are free to go in and out. As they get older I will bring in two crates, then eventually one for each puppy. The crate door is then used to enclose them for short intervals, so they learn to poop only when they come out and in the correct area. The ultimate goal is to get them to sleep through the night in their own crates and to poop only outside. These larger crates go with them to their new home, making the transition and training easier for the puppy and the new owners.
The above represents just the start of a responsible breeder’s chores. Puppy socialization and lead-training are just around the corner.
—Carol Kearney, United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club