Tips for starting out with your first small dog?

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Jasper- Theodore

Mountain- climber.
Barked: Tue Aug 23, '11 11:56pm PST 
So I've had Jasper about a week and a half now, and it's going incredibly well I think especially this early on. But he's the first small dog I've ever had, the first inside dog I've ever owned, and the first dog I've been the primary caretaker of, so I am a bit clueless on some things really. Or to be honest... everything. And then I'm a little worried that maybe there is something I'm failing to do right that will lead to issues later, so I thought I'd ask here. First off, any basic tips on raising or training a small inside dog would be great since I'm a bit clueless. I do have a couple of little specific questions, but then any general advice would also be greatly appreciated.

First off, we do have him a crate to spend the night in and he does fairly well with being crated seeing as he likely spent a lot of his life before he got here in a crate, but my parents (who know about as much as I do, or less since they've done even less research and are just guessing, about raising an inside dog) say he isn't spending enough time in his crate sometimes...? O.o Is there a certain amount of time you want your dog to spend in the crate in order to get used to it, or is there some specific method? Like should he ONLY be allowed to sleep in his crate? This seems to be what they think, but then since I sort of got him as a companion since I'm sort of sickly, it seems very odd that we should only let him sleep in his crate, because I find it quite soothing to have him rest with me, and he doesn't seem to have issues. But then, I don't know. >.< I suppose I always could be doing it wrong.

Second of all, with house training, do people ever opt for trying to paper train or something to that effect before training the dog to go outside? I imagine it would be confusing to do both, and it makes more sense to just do traditional house-training, but then it's been dreadfully hot out these past few days here, and since he is a pug, and he some of his trips take longer than others, the heat does seem to get to him at points (heck, it gets to the rest of us, too), and it worries me a bit. =/ I don't have him out except for just as long as it takes for him to go potty when it's this hot (there were a couple of days when it got cooler and he could run around for a bit, but mostly, there is plenty of room for him to run around inside where it's plenty cool for the both of us). And then the weather around here can be a bit of a pain in the butt, so it may not cool down consistently for a few weeks, we can never know. So what do you think would be best to do there?

And like I said, any general advice about raising small dogs is welcome, because I sort of knew nothing about the subject at all just a couple of weeks ago, so there is still plenty of learning left to do. Heh. laugh out loud Luckily, I got a really good pup to work with, I don't think there could have been a better dog for me. cloud 9

Barked: Thu Aug 25, '11 7:06am PST 
I think just keeping him in a crate at night is long enough. We're a no crate house and Ruby does just fine with sleeping in her own bed, but the rest of the day she sits next to us. Dogs are pack animals and enjoy being with their humans as leaders. Do you have a fenced off yard? Have you thought of a doggy door?

Giant Shih Tzu
Barked: Thu Aug 25, '11 8:08am PST 
Congratulations on becoming a small dog owner! hug He's ADORABLE!

Raising a small dog isn't much different from raising a larger one. Smaller dogs need to be let out more, and I also feel a small dog should be protected to some degree, as they aren't as large and robust as other dogs. But, other than that, it differs little from raising a larger dog.

In my opinion, a puppy should be sleeping in a crate, and should be let out sometime during the night at so young an age. Having him sleep in the crate every night will also help him grow into a more independent dog that doesn't need to be with you 24/7. I know it's comforting and soothing to have your dog so close to you all the time, but that can create separation anxiety issues. The puppy needs to learn that he's ok being by himself. I also feel a dog needs his own space, and the crate becomes that for them.

When I was raising Gunther he was only in the crate when we were away, and at night. The rest of the time he was with us. A puppy needs almost constant monitoring, and you also have to begin the training process as early as you can. Start teaching him simple commands like "sit" and "down". Praise him for making eye contact with you. Simple things.

Also, you can't train a puppy to use potty pads (or any paper) and expect them to go out later on. As long as he's only outside to potty, he should be fine. Also, if there's a shady spot in your yard, you could take him there, but the time it would take him to go potty isn't long enough for the heat to bother him.

I could write a novel here, but I won't do that! laugh out loud Just make sure you're teaching him not to play bite (just stand up and ignore him when he does it, or leave the room). Make sure he's not eating any rawhides or chews (young dogs really shouldn't have these), start touching his feet and ears a lot and praise him for letting you do so (this will teach him that having his feet and ears touched is ok, and will make ear cleaning and nail trimming easy down the road), never use his crate as a "time out", you want the crate to be a positive thing - give him treats when he's in it.

Best of luck! And always feel free to come to Dogster with any more questions! We're all happy to help. happy dance


A Princess ;)
Barked: Thu Aug 25, '11 12:41pm PST 
As far as crate training goes, if he sleeps in his crate at night, that's fine. I don't really "keep" my dog in her crate. She sleeps in it if she wants to, other she sleeps with me. She is potty trained though. I wouldn't allow any dog on my bed if he/she has a history of going potty on your bed!

In general potty training works best if your dog is not given full run of the house. Some people like to do crate training. I live in a small-ish place so what I did was just gate off half the house (hallway and bedrooms) and gave Sophie run of the rest of the house. That way she was in a small enough area that I could watch her closely. Some people also keep their dog leashed to them in the house, because then the dog has to follow you everywhere, and you can watch for any potential potty accidents.

Since he's a puppy, try and get him used to lots of things early. Touch him a lot, get him used to grooming, various dogs, people, etc.

Anyway, other small dog tips:
- be firm! I think it's easy to get caught up in the humanizing/"baby" mentality with small dogs. You can pick them up to cuddle them, their poops are small, etc. so it makes it easier to slack off with training, imo.
- watch what you feed. Small dogs can pack on pounds fast and some breeds have a tendency to love food and gain weight quickly. Also, high quality food can help with any potential skin problems, eye problems, hip problems, etc. Some good brands are: Taste of the Wild, Wellness, Blue Buffalo, Canidae, etc.
- use a harness instead of a collar to walk your dog.

I think that's all I can remember off the top of my head. thinking Congrats on a getting a dog! party

Edited by author Thu Aug 25, '11 12:42pm PST

Lexi Hope

Mamma\'s little- attitude girl
Barked: Thu Aug 25, '11 2:25pm PST 
First of all CONGRATS on your new dog!!!applause
You already sound like a very caring pet owner who wants to learn so thats great too. I am NOT an expert by any means but I do want to share with you some things we do with our small dogs and use what you like and discard the rest. We keep our dogs crates in the living room...the doors are ALWAYS open unless we leave or it is bed time. When they were puppies if they or we needed a break. Some times puppies need naps just like people do. Our dogs all love their crates. We have never used them for any type of punishment, we put toys and kongs in them and they love them. Now when they want a nap they will just go in their crates if they choose to.
I DID paper train my dogs inside first because they arrived late fall and winter and were 2lbs.2oz's on arrival, they now also go outside. It is nice to have it both ways if you can when the weather is bad. You mentioned you are sick alot and you got Jasper for a companion dog...our dau was a very sick little girl and her dog slept with her all it's life. If I could have mine sleep with me they would but I have this thing called "husband" and he says NO...but when he's away...guess what??BOL.
I agree with touching his feet, ears, etc....alot to get him used to it for grooming etc....just have fun with your puppy and enjoy him! He sounds like a neat little guy with a nice personality so you probably can't go too wrong!smile

Pocket Wolf
Barked: Thu Aug 25, '11 9:45pm PST 
my suggestion is to go around your house on your belly and look at things from the perspective of the dog. Remove or secure things that you don't want chewed or destroyed at any level from the floor to the tips of your fingers when you are laying on the floor, as with small dogs, that is the level that they will be living your lives.

Make sure you always check the lumps in the bed or on the couch, or you might sit on them. Please pay CLOSE attention to how much food you are giving them. It's super easy to overfeed small dogs because the amount they require is small; smaller than we would think of as a full meal.

Also, remember that they are as much DOG as a full grown lab. They need to do all the things that big dogs do, walking, running, chewing, playing, and training. Don't let it do anything that you would not let a big dog do, such as bark at strangers, jump on people to greet them, menace other dogs, or pull on the lead. Food agression is not cute either. If your dog displays the behavior, train him to stop it.

Small dogs should not have strollers. They love to walk, and a stroller does not benefit his health. They should have a crate for in the car, and should never be held on the lap for the same reasons a small child should never be loose or on a lap. Small dogs should wear harnesses. Not only do they have fragile necks, but if you get into an emergency situation while walking with a dog, you can yank the dog quickly into your arms with your leash.

You need to be aware of bigger dogs, birds of prey, and sometimes even cats. You should also not take your dog out during windstorms. small dogs should never be off leash unless they are in a secure area. Make sure to check your backyard fence for holes that they can climb under or through. if they can get their head under it, they will get out. Small dogs should be supervised in the yard. There are too many horror stories of bigger dogs mauling little dogs by jumping the fence or pulling the little ones through, or raptors mistaking them for lunch and flying off with them in their talons. Owls are the worst about that, so be especially alert at night.

You might want to designate an out of the way space for your dog to potty indoors, the way you would train a cat. there are dog boxes, indoor potty mats, and piddle pads that all do the job nicely. Sometimes tangerine sized bladders can't always wait 8 hours to potty. Training them to one space in the house in addition to going outside saves some housebreaking headaches.

Tiny teeth need to be taken care of daily. Lots of small dogs get terrible gum disease, plaque and tooth decay very early on.

crate training is the way to go with small dogs. you can even feed a dog in his crate. This is helpful if you have more than one dog and they are of different sizes.

Still even more- to learn.
Barked: Fri Aug 26, '11 10:38am PST 
Getting on your belly and looking at things from your puppy's perspective is excellent advice. I have Akita's the youngest now is almost 2 and we did that with him as well and he was 12.5lbs.when we brought him home and doing that we were able to prevent him from getting into alot of things that could be dangerous for puppies. I think that's good advice no matter what the puppy's size.

Barked: Mon Aug 29, '11 11:48am PST 
A small dog is really not that different from a bigger dog. They just eat less and need to pee more. laugh out loud

I went from 45 lb dogs to 4 lb dogs and the big difference I have found is just they have NO idea of personal space. They pretty much want to be velcroed to you at all times. Oh, and the food. One of mine gained weight FAST before I found an online dog calorie calculator and realized I was overfeeding her. Now she thinks she's starving but I know she's not. I feed TOTW or Wellness Core with a little canned mixed in. I use Cloud Star treats because they make some that are small enough.

I have a crate for my puppy mill survivor - she is still shy and prefers to go in there when we go up into the bedroom and when we go to sleep. It's a small crate so she won't pee in there. I don't crate her any other time so she doesn't revert back to the puppy mill thinking where it's OK to 'go' in the crate. The other one thinks she belongs on the bed but sometimes I crate her at night as well. I found the crates have to be on my side of the bed so they can see me; otherwise they fuss all night and I get zero sleep.

Mine actually use both pee pads and the great outdoors. I use the pee pads when I need to put them in the kitchen during the day, but in the morning & at night they use the backyard or we go for walks.

Baby gates will be your friend. I use them to keep them in the kitchen (easy to clean floor), in the basement or in the bedroom when needed.

Cooper- Peace_Love_&Bell- y Rubs!!!
Barked: Mon Aug 29, '11 11:53pm PST 
Congrats!! I've found that a small bell on collar works so that you can hear them. I found that out after I tripped over him. Also if you have a friend/family checking in while you work make sure they know your ground rules in regards to walks, feeding,treats,etc. It leads to less confusion for everyone.
Now Cooper is litter box trained. I know some people hate the idea. He hated puppy pads. With work it was hard to schedule a outside potty time.It works for us. It takes time and patience. He learned in a few weeks. The whole baby thing is easy to do. However if you don't like a pitbull jumping on your guests then neither should he. Can't let him get away with things because he's so small, cute, wouldn't hurt anyone.