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Cameron Park Veterinary Hospital

Training Questions:

»  How can I housebreak my new pet?

»  How do I get rid of urine smells? 

»  How do I prevent my pet from biting my ankles?

»  How can I get my pet to stop chewing?

»  How can I stop my pet from eating my plants?

»  Why does my pet "talk" so much?

How can I housebreak my new pet?

Develop a schedule of feeding, playing, walking, and sleeping, which will keep your dog on an elimination schedule as well. Learn the times when your dog will generally have to go: after eating, after waking up and, for puppies, about every 20-30 minutes when they are awake and playing, and then just before bed. Watch for the cues your dog gives before urinating, like sniffing and circling.  Always praise your pet when it successfully goes outside.

Strict schedules and a regular routine of resting, eating, and playing regulate the elimination process. If the puppy is left alone for eight to ten hours at a time accidents will happen because, at this age, the puppy's bladder simply does not have the required capacity.  Understand that this may happen.

Different dogs learn at different rates, so it may take a few days of accidents before your pet learns. Eventually, though, with gentle persistence and a lot of patience, your pet will associate going outside with doing its business.

Puppies from six to eight weeks old can be house broken in about four weeks. Adult dogs may take longer because they may have some bad habits you need to break.

Catching a puppy "in the act" is the only time to scold or praise. After the event has occurred, it is too late to scold or praise, because the puppy will associate your feedback with whatever he is doing at the time, not ten minutes before. Rubbing his nose in his mistakes is a worthless technique and only confuses the dog.


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How do I get rid of urine smells? 

Urine smells can be very difficult to eliminate inside the house. To make things worse, pets will tend to return to an area they've already soiled, so the smells in your house may be making housetraining even harder than it already is.

For cleaning accidents, use a product that includes an odor neutralizer. Most household cleaners contain ammonia, which is also found in urine - and therefore only confuses the pet.  Tile and linoleum are fairly easy to clean, but carpets tend to more difficult.  Because urine usually soaks through to the padding, you might have to consider rolling back the carpet and cutting out and replacing a patch of the padding to do a really good job. You can then clean the carpet with an enzymatic cleaner, available from professional carpet cleaners.


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How do I prevent my pet from biting my ankles? 

Both dogs and cats may nip and bite when they’re happy and playing. If your pet is stalking your feet, he’s engaging in predatory-play or herding behavior. Cats and many dogs have a natural instinct to attack moving objects in the wild. Some breeds of dog are also instinctive herders. Indoors, your feet are the only things moving he has to ambush or herd. 

You can help change your pet's behavior by consistently discouraging the attacks. Safe and effective ways to do this are spraying him with a water bottle or using a can of compressed air--just like the ones used on computer keyboard--to make a loud hissing sound. If you are vigilant and discourage the attacks consistently, you’ll take a big step toward changing your pet’s behavior.


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How can I get my pet to stop chewing? 

Not only can chewing be destructive to clothing and furniture, it can be downright dangerous if the item chewed happens to be an electrical cord.

You need to divert your pet's play activities away from those objects you don't wish her to chew. Provide your pet with alternatives items that are okay to chew. You can also provide negative reinforcement for the objectionable behavior. Bitter Apple or Cayenne pepper are a couple of products you can spray on those items you don't want chewed.  You can also make a shaker can from an empty soda can containing a few pebbles that you shake vigorously when see your pet chewing the wrong thing. You can also chase him away with a squirt of plain water from a spray bottle. Then you can also use a firm and loud "NO!"   

Chewing is also something that your pet will typically grow out of, given time.


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How can I stop my pet from eating my plants?

Cats and dogs have a natural instinct to eat grass and other plants; they provide fiber, may aid digestion, promote vomiting if it's needed, and simply gives your pet something to nibble on.

Unfortunately, there are many plants around the home that are toxic to your pets. You may want to put your house plants out of reach or spray them with Bitter Apple or Cayenne pepper to make them less appetizing to your pet.


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Why does my pet "talk" so much?

Vocalizing is a very normal part of being a dog or cat and some pets are more prone to "talking."  To some extent, the noisemaking is just part of your pet's personality. Many pets will "talk" when they want attention.  Perhaps when they were younger they learned that if they cried long enough, you would pick them up and comfort them or feed them.  If you tend to ignore their "talking," then your pet will eventually give up and tend to quiet down.


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