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Date:   23 November, 2009  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
Making veterinary surgery alive
to a veterinary student studying in Australia
using real case studies and pictures

Two common perceptions of first-time puppy owners  
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: Nov 22, 2009.

Caucasian lady 20-30 years old
Miniature Poodle 5 months (X) bought first.
Miniature Poodle 3 months (Y) bought 1 month after the first puppy.
Purchased from the same pet shop.
Playpen with bed + newspapers advised by the pet shop operator.
Puppies live in an apartment

This case illustrates 2 common perceptions of first-time puppy owners all over the world as regards toilet training and how the vet may advise the owner.  

Thinking No. 1
"X is not as intelligent as Y as X still pees and poop all over the apartment. Y just goes to the newspapers," the slim and tall fair European lady commented when I asked how she managed to train two puppies. This was part of my research in toilet training of puppies in Singapore.

Based on performance, Y appears more intelligent. He knows what the owner wanted.
It is like having 2 children. One will be smarter than the other. However, the circumstances of upbringing will be different as you can see here.

I asked, "How long have you confined the second pup (Y) to the playpen to train her to use the newspapers?"

"4 weeks," she said.

"I guess you only confined the first pup (X) for less than 2 weeks," I said.

"Yes," the young lady replied. "Around 2 weeks."

"There is insufficient time for X to be paper-trained," I concluded that the puppy was given much freedom to roam around the apartment. This is a common practice of new puppy owners. X was the first puppy and he was given more freedom.

"The whole apartment will be full of urine smells," I said.

"I mop the floor with detergent," the lady said.

"The mop will be full of urine smells," I explained. "A canine nose is very sensitive to urine smells. He will pee anywhere as the whole apartment is full of smells.

"The 2nd pup is presently paper-trained. But later, he would emulate the first pup and eliminate everywhere."

"What should I do?" the lady asked.

"Confine the first pup. Neutralise the puppy's urine smell on the apartment floor with white vinegar at a part of vinegar to 3 parts of water. Use a rag or cloth to wipe the floor with this mixture, not the mop."

Will this advice work?

Thinking No. 2

"The first puppy knows he had done something wrong," the young lady said during the course of our conversation. "He feels guilty and quickly runs away when he has peed outside the newspapers!"

I commented about this urination accidents, "The puppy runs away because he sees that you are very angry. You may spank him, as many Singapore's puppy owner do."

"I don't do it," the young lady said. She was not entirely convinced about my explanation that the puppy ran away out of fear, rather than out of guilt.

A Willetton Rose?  October 2009, Perth, Australia. Toa Payoh Vets"We think that puppies experience guilt for misbehaviour," I said. "Some puppy book authors explain that the puppies are worried about being beaten up and therefore runs away to hide on seeing an angry face of the owner."

This hypothesis was not really acceptable to the lady as she did not physically injure the puppy. So, I was at a loss as to what explanation to give as regards the running away of the "guilty" puppy. It could be the fear of imminent beating. Self preservation. A fear of a big human giant "Goliath" by a small pup "David" without a sling.

"As the first puppy is now 5 months old, it is important that you confine him in the playpen to paper-train him again. When he is mature at 6 months of age, he will be rebellious and is very difficult to paper-train," I advised. "This is like children who have grown up. It is very difficult to impart to them good values when they are in the rebellious growth period of adolescence."

The same applies to a bud. If the nuturing of the bud during growth is not good, e.g. insufficient nutrients, a beautiful flower will not blossom unlike the picture of a healthy beautiful "rose-like" flower shown here.
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