In This Chapter
- Making the rounds with family, friends, and other animals
- Just say “Ahhhh”: First visit to the vet
- Fitting in: Crates, cars, and schedules
- Training through play
- Curbing bad habits early
Getting to Know Your Pom
Keeping the newness of it all in mind
With socialization, it’s the quality — not the quantity — that counts. As with all things puppy, you need to introduce new experiences gradually, never pushing your pup past the point that she’s scared. Keep these points in mind:
– Your children are no doubt anxious to play with the new dog, so make sure they don’t get too rambunctious and that the puppy has time to herself. Too much harassment and she may start hiding whenever they show up.
– The same is true for her new canine and feline family. Have all pets play inside at first or in a confined area outside so they can’t run out of control and out of your reach.
Bonding with humans big and small
– Hold your dog in your arms. This way new faces don’t tower over your Pom as people greet him, and you don’t have to ask them to sit on the ground!
– Keep people from rushing up or creeping slowly up to him. Rushing is startling and creeping is, well, creepy. Creeping is actually too much like stalking and can unnerve some dogs.
– Remind strangers not to look the dog in the eye when they say hello. To a dog, that direct stare is threatening. A perfect way to scare the bejeebers out of your Pom is to have somebody creep up to him, bend over, stare him in the eye, and then reach out to pet his head. Be prepared to clean the pee off the floor.
If the dog’s uneasy, the person can face sideways, which is less threatening, or sit on the floor and wait for the dog to approach. When your dog’s at ease, the person can gently rub the pup’s chest or neck.
– Encourage people to rub your dog under the chin or on the chest instead of petting him on the head. Like humans, dogs don’t like being pounded on the head.
– Plan for your puppy to meet only one or two people at a time. These people must be gentle and nonthreatening. You can have them offer him a treat to cement the friendship — sort of the opposite of what people tell their children (“Hey, little dog, want a piece of candy?”).
– Stage a puppy party for people and your dog. Invite people to your house and, one at a time, have them greet your puppy. They should walk up to you and your dog casually and then nonchalantly put out a hand for your dog to sniff.
Near home and beyond
– Go for a walk around the block and see who you bump into. You can try to direct a meeting by picking up your dog and perhaps handing the stranger a treat to give to your pup.
– Introduce your Pom to children, especially if you have no children at home. The best plan is to avoid random children; instead, invite only children that are calm and obedient to visit your home and meet the puppy.
– Avoid the all-dogs-like-me person. If you meet this person, tell him your appendix just burst and then scurry away.
– Explore public places (like sidewalks, parks, and some outdoor cafes) that welcome dogs. Avoid taking your puppy to a crowd with the idea of her meeting lots of people at once. She can be stepped on, and people can terrify her if they all try to reach and pet her.
Going to the Vet for Your Pom’s First Checkup
Checking out the doctor
– Does he communicate clearly?
– Does he treat your dog gently?
– Does he regularly treat Poms or toy dogs?
Ask how many of these patients he has and whether he feels comfortable doing surgery on them. Chances are he has quite a few such patients, but it never hurts to ask.
Making the first appointment a success
– Bring any health records the breeder provided and a stool sample (from the Pom, of course!) so the doctor can check for intestinal parasites.
– Use a travel bag or small crate to take your dog to the clinic.
– Keep her close to you in the waiting room and keep her from barking at other animals. They may have serious illnesses, and their owners will appreciate the courtesy.
– Listens to your pup’s heart to make sure she doesn’t have a potentially serious problem
– Weighs your puppy
– Checks your Pom’s teeth and gums
– Probably examines ears and eyelids
– Perhaps checks the knees for early signs of patellar luxation
– May give vaccinations
Vaccinations are a medical procedure. The veterinarian must determine the schedule of shots according to your Pom’s body and how it works even though it may not seem like the most convenient schedule to the owner.
Consider just visiting the clinic’s waiting room sometimes so the pup has experiences there where nothing bad happens. Sure, she has to get shots sometimes, but drop in another time just to say “Hi.” The staff will appreciate your efforts to make their patient comfortable, as this casual visit makes working with her easier on the staff in the long run.
Acclimating the Pup to His New Life
Making a crate feel like home sweet home
Take time now to acclimate him to the crate. The following are a few good reasons:
– The crate provides a secure place where you don’t worry about your Pom.
– Crates provide a safe means of car travel and a safe haven when staying with friends or at hotels.
– A crate-trained dog fares better if he has to be crated at the veterinary hospital or needs bed rest at home while recuperating.
– Crates help in housetraining. (I knew you’d like that one!)
Getting her to like the crate
1. Leave the door open and toss some treats just inside the door at first.
Gradually toss them farther and farther inside after she’s stepping in to get them.
2. Toss in a larger bone she may want to chew on. Tie the treat to the inside of the crate if she tries to take it outside.
Now she has to stay inside if she wants the goods! You also can use a toy filled with treats.
3. Untie the treat and close the door while she feasts, only for a few seconds at first. Open it as soon as she finishes.
4. Keep repeating this routine.
Within a day or so she should be running to the crate as soon as she sees you with treats. If you want, you can now introduce a cue like Bedtime! for her to go in the crate.
5. Gradually extend her time in the crate, always giving her chew toys or interactive toys to occupy her.
6. Try to let her out before she has a chance to get bored or vocal. If she begins to protest, wait until she’s momentarily quiet before letting her out.
7. Continue to extend the time she must be quiet before you release her.
Some words of caution
– Remove your Pom’s collar while he’s in his crate. Collars, especially choke collars or collars with tags, can get caught in crate wires and strangle the puppy.
– Discourage chewing on the wire by spraying it with anti-chew preparations and by making sure your pup has no issues with being crated (see the training steps in the previous section). If your puppy tends to chew on the wire, he can get his jaw or tooth caught.
Overuse can create serious behavioral problems. Think of the crate as your child’s crib — a safe place to sleep but not a place for your pup to grow up or be punished.
Encouraging independence and relieving anxiety
It’s in the genes . . . and the screams
Leaving, but just for a while
1. Start by occasionally leaving the room for just a minute before popping back in.
2. Move to a longer time period only when your pup seems content and calm at the current time period.
The object is to return before your pup gets restless or anxious.
3. Gradually build up to 10, 20, and 30 minutes away from your pup.
The biggest barrier to success is leaving the pup alone too long. Nobody ever got over being scared of being deserted by being ignored. Be patient, and go slowly. You’ll make much more progress if you return while she’s still calm at 10 minutes than if you wait until she’s having a fit at 11 minutes.
How do I leave thee?
Distressed puppies are too upset to eat or play. However, giving your pup something to occupy and comfort him while you’re gone is useful.
– Mirrors and soft cuddly toys seem most effective at calming separated puppies.
Try soft, warm, dog-shaped toys that even have a heartbeat, simulating the pup’s littermates.
– Interactive toys that challenge your puppy to dislodge sticky food treats are good distractions for bored, but not distressed, puppies.
– The buddy system (that is, having another dog or cat around) may help your Pom, but don’t rely on it. Your other pet may not always be there to babysit.
Getting used to riding in the car
Your job is to make your pup associate the car with good times. Try these suggestions:
– Go for very short rides to fun places before nausea and diarrhea can even begin to churn. For some dogs this means opening the car door, setting the puppy inside, driving 20 feet, and getting out to play — or to let him puke. (Hint: If he pukes, you’ve gone too far.)
– Check your driving habits. The more often the speed changes, the more nauseous your puppy gets. If you live in hilly country, try to maintain a constant speed up and down hills.
– Bring the puppy to the front of the vehicle. Although a crate is usually safest, riding in a crate can increase motion sickness in some dogs. Looking out of a window can help alleviate some cases of motion sickness. Experiment with somebody holding your pup — and a lot of towels and plastic sheeting. (Sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it!)
– Give your Pom gingersnap cookies; they may help alleviate carsickness.
– Ask your veterinarian about motion sickness pills for your dog as a last resort.
Engaging the hesitant Pom
– Learning fun tricks
– Playing fetch
– Searching for hidden treats
– Playing alongside you with toys that squeak or are easy to manipulate
Outsmarting the push-and-shove Pom
1. Come up with a game-over word, like Give.
2. Teach your Pom (in an enclosed area) that Give! Means Trade! because you trade him a treat for whatever he has.
3. Walk away and ignore him if he refuses to give up the prize.
Drawing the line with your nipping Pom
Play it cool
1. When your pup chomps down on you, yelp sharply and withdraw from him, standing still and ignoring him for 20 seconds or so.
2. If he stops nipping and instead behaves, quit your statue act and give him a treat.
Focus on the positive
– Avoid wriggling your fingers in front of the puppy’s face and then yanking them out of reach as she lunges for them.
– Keep from shuffling your slippered feet around on the rug while your puppy pounces on them. Well, okay, that is kind of fun, but it can lead to her biting your ankles.
– Convince the rest of your family and any visitors to discourage puppy nipping.
Rarely, the biting is not in play, so it’s important for you, as the owner, to spot the signs of true, aggressive biting. Snarling, with ears back, is a sign of possible trouble — especially when combined with protecting food or assets, being picked up, or being told to move.
Growling is a natural part of a pup’s playful nipping. Did you know that what seems like a growl may actually be a laugh? Dog laughter is a rough sound made only when exhaling, and it’s typical of dogs playing competitively such as in tugging games. Unfortunately many people misinterpret the sound as a growl and even punish their dogs — just for laughing.
Laying Down the House Rules
Explaining the laws of the loveseat
– Get furniture that’s too high for her to jump up on.
– Teach her early on that her place is elsewhere.
You can always let her up when she’s older, but you can’t easily ban her after she’s enjoyed the lap of luxury.
– Lift her down to a place of her own. (It has to be a really good place to compete with that sofa and its view, though.) A deluxe dog bed in an equally entertaining spot that has a good vantage point should get her attention.
– Train her to go to that place on cue by rewarding her when she goes there on her own. As she starts to eagerly run to her bed, give her the cue Place! and reward her after she’s there.
If your Pom sneaks onto forbidden furniture, it’s not the end of the world. In other words, forget the booby traps, shock pads, or rough handling.
Keeping his chompers on chewies, not chairs (or shoes!)
The best-laid plans . . .
– Keep your important, valuable items out of sight as much as you can.
– Watch your pup as much as you can.
– Slather horrible-tasting products like cayenne pepper or commercially available bitter tastes on those tempting items that you can’t move out of his reach.
– Wrap aluminum foil around your chair legs. Your puppy won’t find it very enticing to bite . . . but your guests will ask who your decorator is.
– Try to guide him toward chewing more acceptable objects. (See the next section for ideas on this.)
Choose his chews carefully
– Make sure the new object doesn’t resemble items you don’t want him to chew — old shoes, socks, stuffed animals (if you have children who collect them), carpet remnants, and so on.
– Try rotating his toys so he only gets a few at a time. Every few days put one set away and replace them with some other toys. This way he has the excitement of new toys every few days.
– Engage him with interactive toys like the ones he has to work at to extract food. Fill these with bones, soft cheese, canned dog food, or peanut butter, and then freeze them to make them last even longer.
Punishing him does little good, and you can make matters worse if you punish him right when he proudly brings you the trashed treasure. Congratulations! You’ve just trained him to take your treasures to a secret location so you never get them back!
by D.Caroline Coile,Ph.D.