Animal Family’s Easy Guide to House Breaking your Puppy

 When it comes to puppy training consistency is the key.


  • Always use the same door to take your puppy outside to eliminate. 


  • Take him or her to the same area.  Hopefully once that area smells like urine and stool their sense of smell will help stimulate them to eliminate.


  • Go out with them, so you can praise while they are going and give a treat right afterwards.  Don’t give them their treat once they are in the house.  If you do,  you praised them for is coming back in, not going potty outdoors.


  • Always use the same word for elimination, Start talking as soon as you take them out of the kennel and continue until you get to the designated place outside.  Choose a word.  It can be “go potty”, “do your business” or any other phrase that works for both you and your puppy.


  • If your puppy starts going to the door on his or her own, ask them to let you know it’s time to go out.  An easy way to do this is to hang a bell by your door.  You can teach the pup to touch the bell or simply reward them when they do it inadvertently. 


  • If your puppy goes outside and doesn’t get down to business (within 5 minutes or so) bring them back indoors and put them in their kennel (yes I do recommend crates or kennels).  Wait about 15-20 minutes and try again.  Make a big deal about it when they go outside (“YEH!!! GOOD PUPPY, GOOD JOB….LOOK HOW SMART YOU ARE!!!!!”)  Go ahead and give a treat as well. (Remember,  give the treat while they are outside.)


  • Anytime your puppy has been playing for more the 30 minutes go outside again…… Puppies can’t engage in more than  30-50  minutes of active play without needing to eliminate!


  • Puppy stays in the kennel when you can’t give them 100 %  of your attention!!!! That way they can’t sneak off into another room.  Use it like a play pen or crib for babies .  As they get better, try using the kennel less and less. 


  •  If your puppy makes a mistake in the house, clean it up thoroughly and be more vigilant.  The fewer mistakes your puppy makes indoors the faster he or she will learn.  No corrections unless you catch them in the act.  If you see your pup going potty in the house, startle and redirect.  Yell, shake a penny can or throw a toy towards them and then quickly take them to their designated area outdoors.  Spankings just scare and confuse the puppy.


  • Repeat as needed for good house breaking…. If you put all of your work in at the beginning you and Rover WILL SUCCEED! 


  •  House breaking is easier in the winter.  I find that you and your dog spend very little time outside, so the puppy really learns what you want.  Whereas in the summer, when both people and pets want to spend a lot of time outside,  puppy can potty any time and may have a much harder time understanding the actual mission.  Still if you are consistent you will get the job done.

Ten Questions You’ve always wanted to Ask Your Veterinarian

Have you ever wondered what motivates someone to become veterinarian?  We have.  So this week we decided to find out why Animal Family’s Dr. Scott Bernick chose his career path. 

  1. How old were you when you decided to become a veterinarian?  ” I was nine years old.”  Really?  That’s very young to be so certain what you want to do.    “I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time working with the animals there.  I always admired our farm vet.”  So why small animals?  I raised hunting dogs when I was young and that sparked my interest in small animals.”
  2. What is the best part of your job?  “You get to interact with many wonderful pets and their owners.  We see a lot different species and have clients from all different walks of life.  It’s  really the best of both worlds.”
  3. What’s the most interesting case you’ve ever had?   “Addison’s disease is very rewarding to treat.  The dog’s present as very sick.  Often they are almost flat out.  As the veterinarian we provide  the proper medication and treatment and the pet is nearly back to normal within hours!”
  4. What’s the most difficult part of your job?  When the pet can’t tell you what is wrong.  Sometimes it would be so much help if they could just speak.  We learn to  rely a lot on our owners, on  blood and other lab work and of course  on our experience.”
  5. Why become a vet when you could have just as easily gone into human medicine and made more money? ” You get to deal with animals that cannot help themselves. That may sound like a simple statement but it means the world to those of us in the profession.”
  6. We know that you have to like animals for this job but what are the other unique requirements? A veterinarian absolutely must be able to communicate with the animal’s owner.  They are an integral part of the success of any diagnosis we make or treatment we undertake.  Veterinary medicine is as much about people as pets.”
  7. How has veterinary medicine changed since your parent’s time?  More specialists.  Even though a veterinarian still wears many hats, there are now more specialty practices we can turn to when we have a more complex case.”
  8. Even though both jobs require the same amount of education; how does veterinary medicine differ from human medicine beyond the obvious question of species? “Human medicine has easier access to specialty practices, however, veterinarians are often required to be the general practitioner, surgeon, ophthalmologist, internist, dentist, etc. This makes our practice both more interesting and more difficult.  In veterinary medicine we still see the bulk of our cases through from start to finish.  That is often not the case in human medicine.  I think that allows us to develop strong relationships with our clients and their pets.  We become very invested in the well being of our patients. 
  9. What do you think the new horizons for veterinary medicine will be?   Cancer treatments are becoming more common and we are seeing more successful outcomes. Today, pets are a part of the family.  Their owners want to do more to both extend and improve the quality of their pet’s lives.
  10.  If someone gave you a magic wand and you could go back and do it over again, would you still become a vet?  ‘Absolutely!!”

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.”

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are purebred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

New Lymphoma Treatment Shows Promise In Dogs

This is really exciting news. Lymphoma is a problem in many species. Any gain is good for us all. Researchers at the University of Illinois have identified a new target for the treatment of lymphoma and are testing a potential new drug in pet dogs afflicted with the disease. At low doses, the compound, called S-PAC-1, arrested the growth of tumors in three of six dogs tested and induced partial remission in a fourth.
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