toilet training, house training puppies

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Location: Singapore

A veterinary surgeon at and founder of a licensed housing agency for expatriate rentals and sales at

Sunday, December 11, 2005

208. "Doc, do you remember this pimpled Jack Russell?"

Toilet Training Your First Puppy in Singapore

"Doc, you remember this full-of-pimples Jack Russell?" Mr Lim asked. Frankly, I could not remember the puppy just by looking because puppies with skin pimples are a common complaint. Their immune system has not fully developed.

"You sold me a stainless steel crate to house him. Her body was messy and wet with urine and stools. You asked me not to put her in a play pen anymore as she stepped and slept on her pee and poop," Mr Lim jolted my memory with the mention of the first stainless steel crate I had sold to him. It had a door and a pee tray below.

"I remember this case," I replied. I do not sell the stainless steel crates to puppy owners as there was very poor demand for them. When puppies see me, they already have housing.

So, there was no point tying up capital in stocking crates. Besides, my Surgery is small, at around 60 sq metres in area. There are smaller Veterinary Clinics of around 20 sq metres in Singapore. So mine was considered a good size as it could fit in the rooms necessary for a veterinary surgery.

Still, there was no point in stocking up pet accessories to compete with well-stocked pet shops. I kept 3 crates for such situations but they were taking up much space.

I remember this Jack Russell's skin conditon. 90% of her body skin was infected with bacteria.
She could not have peace of mind as her body was itchy. The more she scratched, the worse her skin condition became. She must be suffering.

Now, she looked so good with her snow white coat tanned and two "Zorro" eyes. Well, one and a quarter "Zorro" eyes as her left eye patch did not cover the whole eye.

I examined her under the bright lights. There was one big about to rupture pimple in her belly. 10 - 20 small burst pimples that had become rashes in the armpit and skin folds but nothing serious. The owner was not aware of those.

What a change of skin condition for the better after treatment and crate housing! The owner was beaming with happiness if you had seen how bad her skin was when she was housed in a playpen with newspapers.

In crate housing, she had a wire flooring with gaps. Her urine passes down to the pee tray, keeping the puppy dry. Sometimes, the stools drop through the gaps but not always. At least the puppy could avoid stepping on its stools and be dry. Puppies of 2 -4 months of age pee countless number of times but poop 2-4 times per day. It was not possible for many working owners to change soiled newspapers as nobody was at home.

I asked how this Jack Russell was toilet trained now by asking the owner to draw a floor plan of the crate. The owner drew a square. The door is on the top of the square. The water bottle is on the top right corner. The feed bowl is on the bottom right corner. The plastic bed is on the bottom left corner (quarter area).

So, the Jack Russell had only the top left corner (quarter area ) to pee and poop. Was this an ideal floor plan?

Now, puppies do not dirty their sleeping and eating area. In this floor plan, only 25% of the area (the top left corner) was the toilet area.

Maybe, the ideal floor plan should be: water bottle to the left corner. The puppy should be fed outside the crate since he was given food twice per day. There was no need for space for the feed bowl inside the crate. In this way, the growing up puppy (his head now reaches the roof of the crate, the owner said) has 50% of the floor space (right half of the square) to exercise and pee.

The owner had bought a pee platform (wire flooring with pee tray below) as recommended by his friend. So, the puppy could go to the platform when out of the cage. I wonder how he was going to train the puppy to use this platform.

"Put in the pee tray with urine smell," I advised. "Dogs are attracted to urine smells when they want to go to the toilet."

"How about water bowls instead of water bottle?" I asked the owner.

"The puppy steps into the water and feed bowl," he laughed. "He becomes wet. He is very active."

Jack Russells are high energy dogs. I had a closer look at this Jack Russell as a red toe caught my eye. Two other toe nail beds were slightly swollen.

"Is she licking some toes?" I asked the owner.

The owner nodded his head. What could have caused this problem? Wet feet? Or toes caught in the wire gaps? It was hard to tell. I suggested that the owner tie 3 panels of fences (from his playpen purchase) to outside of the crate. This wil extend the outdoor exercise area for this puppy. He could hop out of the crate to a bigger area to exercise. He could go back to the crate to pee and poop. And to sleep.

Would this floor plan work? I do not know. It works for some and not for others. So, it is hard to tell.