A puppy’s daily routine provides consistency, a sense of security and a necessary training platform. Without it, his world is a veritable free-for-all of inappropriate elimination, inconsistent nutrition and over-activity. Consistent feeding, eliminating, grooming and exercise routines will have him properly trained and ready to romp with the big boys.
A puppy’s meal schedule should include three separate meals at the same time each day. Ideally his meals will be spaced out as such; breakfast upon waking in the morning, lunch in the early afternoon and dinner no later than 5:00 p.m. It’s important to feed him dinner before the sun goes down in order to allow him an adequate amount of time to eliminate before he goes to bed.
Puppies need to relieve themselves after waking up, eating or drinking and playing. Set up a schedule where you’re able to bring him outside, preferably to the same general area, after each of the previous activities. As a general rule, small puppies should go outside to eliminate every hour and a half during the early stages of toilet training. As his training progresses, and he grows older, he’ll be able to last for longer intervals. All puppies are different, but most can hold their waste for the same number of hours as they are in age; for example, a four-month-old puppy should not go longer than four hours without the opportunity to go outside. However, always monitor your puppy for cues that indicate he needs to relieve himself such as sudden stopping or squatting, sniffing the ground and barking or whining.
Train your puppy to tolerate and even enjoy grooming while he’s still a babe. Brush his coat daily with a soft-bristle brush, going both with and against the fur. Try having someone distract him with a toy or a treat if he seems particularly squirmy at first. Once his fur is soft and snaggle free, focus on his teeth. Get your buddy used to daily oral care before he’s even old enough to sprout his adult teeth. Wrapping your finger in a bit of gauze with a dollop of pet-safe toothpaste and working it over his teeth in small circles three times a week will do wonders for his smile. You can also use a children’s soft-bristle toothbrush if his sharp puppy teeth like to chomp on your finger.
Puppies have seemingly endless energy. Make it a habit to romp with your puppy -- throw a frisbee, take him for a walk or play a game of hide and go seek. It’s important that your puppy doesn’t feel confined. Puppies who are confined in crates for too long often regress when it comes to toilet training or act out in inappropriate ways. Make sure to provide your buddy with plenty of opportunity to release his energy and you’ll have a much easier time getting him to pay attention and respond to training commands.
Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.