Never too soon to begin training new pet

January 02, 1993|By Gary Wilkes | Gary Wilkes,Cox News Service

That small, furry creature Santa left you under the tree may have been a big hit on Christmas Day. Now that the novelty has worn off, you may wonder what to do next. These suggestions can help you end the holidays on a positive note:

Your first step should be a quick trip to the veterinarian. Vaccinations are crucial to your pet's health, as well as a good examination by a qualified professional. Getting the animal used to being examined at the hospital is a good behavior to develop early.

Now that Rover has had a week or so of almost constant attention, he is in for a big surprise. Rover will suddenly be left alone rather abruptly as the kids go back to school and you go back to work. The best course is to gradually work the dog into a normal schedule of isolation. Puppies are not capable of completely being house-trained until 6 months of age. Your best bet is to use methods of confinement, such as pet carriers and kiddie gates, along with positive reinforcement for proper elimination. Ask your veterinarian about regulating your pet's food and water intake to assist in predicting when to get the pup outdoors.

Kittens do not always automatically know how to use a litter box. Provide at least one box for each cat in the household. Set the kitten up in a small, quiet room with a fresh litter box when you are away from home. A bathroom with a tile floor is ideal.

Take care with electrical cords. Puppies and kittens chew on inappropriate items such as tinsel and electrical cords. Choking or severe electrical shock may be the result of simple curiosity. Other hazards include automobile anti-freeze, turkey bones and rough handling by children or other pets.

Get your puppy started on acceptable chew toys as soon as possible. Rubber toys, nylon bones and rawhide bones may keep your pet from chewing valuable or dangerous objects. Ask your veterinarian about which toys are both safe and beneficial.

Your pet is never too young to get used to a collar and an ID tag. Some veterinarians have the technology to implant a miniature microchip under your pet's skin that is permanent identification. If your animal is found, the chip is scanned with a device that reads the registration number. A national registry retains your vital statistics and provides your address and phone number to the agency that found your pet.

Training for puppies can start as soon as you bring them home. Because puppies cannot tolerate harsh treatment, you should focus on supportive methods that emphasize positive reinforcement. Punishment for soiling the carpet, for instance, is like swatting an infant for messing its diaper -- it will merely terrify and confuse the animal. Treats, affection and praise for correct elimination are far more productive tools.

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