The Real Poop on Puppy Poop

21 Apr

Probably the most stressful and difficult thing for any new puppy owner is the issue of elimination, especially in the city, and most especially if you live in an apartment. We live in a 2nd floor apartment on a busy street corner, and this is the one part of being a new puppy mom that nearly killed me. It was actually good in my case that it was still quite cold when we brought Sadie home, because I was able to throw my coat on over my jammies to take her out in the middle of the night. Fortunately, with a regular schedule and a trip out to her ‘potty spot’ just before bedtime, it was only a couple of weeks until she was able to sleep the night without needing to go out. You’ll have introduced your puppy to the place (either on pads in your bathroom if he is under 16 weeks and you do not feel it safe to have him walk on a public street until he’s had all his immunizations, or to a safe spot in your yard if you have one where he will not be exposed to the urine or feces of other dogs) where he is supposed to ‘do his business’ (we used the words ‘go poop’ and ‘pee-pee’), and he will quickly learn to associate the act with the words and the spot. It won’t take long! Then you must keep him confined either to his crate or, as the Monks of New Skete suggest, and which worked for us with our Border Collie, who would have nothing to do with the crate business,  leashed to your bed for the night while you sleep. This way you can soothe and comfort him, and if it becomes obvious that he REALLY has to go, you will need to take him to his spot. But he will WANT and TRY to please you and do what you do, so this will go quickly, as long as you are firm and reassuring and don’t get too stressed about it yourself. During the day, keep him near you and keep a close watch on him, and if he squats to go, whisk him to his spot and praise him generously when he succeeds in going there. If you cannot be near him, confine him in his crate or in a comfortable area near his puppy pads. If you don’t succeed in stopping him in time, don’t scold, just take him to the going spot anyway, and then clean up the accident and be sure to deodorize the accident site with UrineOff or something else that will completely eliminate the smell.  Someone asked if the puppy needs to be leashed to be taken outside in the first days/weeks, and the answer is yes! They are quick little creatures, and unless you have a very safe confined yard, don’t take them out without a leash. For the first few days or couple of weeks after we brought Sadie home, I carried her down the stairs and to her ‘going spot’ but snapped her leash on before I put her down on the sidewalk. I will send them home wearing little collars, and I advise that you bring a lightweight woven nylon leash when you come to pick them up. You will want to replace it with something heavier, and a nice harness (or Weiss Walker) as they grow.

One of the most fun and interesting things for me has been seeing how the mommy dog licks each puppy all over as they nurse. It turns out that this is to stimulate them to eliminate, and as they do so, she eats and drinks their urine and feces. That sounds gross, but it really isn’t; after all, it’s really just her own milk, perhaps even faintly tasting of what I gave her to eat the day before. She checks them frequently as they’re sleeping and eats any little poops she finds in the crate. This is great for me: at first I was putting a towel in the whelping box beneath her and the puppies, and the pee and poop were getting absorbed into it, and I couldn’t figure out why she was scratching at the towel as though trying to get rid of it. It also made the smell in the whelping room much stronger. She’s been much happier – and the nest has been much cleaner – since we figured it out! It’s also great for you, because they are learning to want to sleep in a clean space, which is your key to being able to housebreak them quickly. Yesterday I had a chuckle when I noticed that little Cher was partially hoisted up onto her legs (they are beginning to try to stand up now!) and seemed to be straining, and then suddenly a little tiny poop, smaller than a pencil eraser, popped out of her behind onto the floor of the nest. Sadie, who was watching with me, promptly gobbled it up.


One Response to “The Real Poop on Puppy Poop”

  1. Charles April 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm #

    That sure is surprising about Sadie! As for our puppy, do we need to keep it away from even our own, immunized dogs’ urine and poop for a while? Thanks for all the updates, I’m checking all the time!

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