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Good habits every puppy should know

PetSmart Debbie McKnight, Accredited PetSmart Trainer

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We look into their eyes and they steal our hearts, but for that little bundle of joy to grow into the adult cat or dog you are hoping for, they need your guidance.  Here are some tips to get you started:

We look into their eyes and they steal our hearts, but for that little bundle of joy to grow into the adult cat or dog you are hoping for, they need your guidance.  Here are some tips to get you started:

Potty training for puppies
A puppy’s natural instinct is to keep his “den” clean.  Using this to your advantage is the easiest way to potty train your new puppy.  When you cannot directly supervise your puppy, confine him to an area small enough that he will consider it his den, such as a crate.  To teach him where to eliminate, take him outside at regular intervals, and praise him when he eliminates.  Don’t scold him for accidents, just vow to watch him more closely. Read more tips on how to house-train your puppy.

Puppy biting
Puppy teeth are sharp! Do not encourage your puppy to bite at your hands by wrestling or roughhousing.  Encourage your puppy to put his mouth on appropriate items such as dog chew toys, bones, and tug toys.  To do this, only continue the play session if your puppy doesn’t bite you.  If he gets too excited, squeal “Ouch!” Then remove your hand and turn your attention away from him.  Soon your pup will learn that he only gets to play with you if he’s careful with his mouth.

Litter box training for kittens
Most cats are happy to use a litter box as long as it meets their standards.  Keep it clean by scooping daily and completely changing the litter every week.  Until you see your kitten consistently using the box, limit him to one room and gradually increase his freedom.  If you have multiple cats, have a box for each cat, plus one extra to avoid territorial issues. Read more tips on litter-box training.

Playful kittens
Kittens are full of energy and need to play.  Sometimes the “playful aggression,” which is cute in a kitten, becomes a real problem when he grows up.  Make sure to play with your kitten using appropriate cat toys rather than hands.  Encouraging your kitten to bite or bat at your hands in play can contribute to those “sneak attacks" later on.

Toys for puppies and kittens
Toys are important for physical and mental development, expending energy and building a bond with your pet.  Most toys are safe and fun for you and your pet to play with together, but pets need toys to play with when you’re gone too.  These toys should be safe and exciting by themselves.  For puppies, chew bones and food dispensing toys are great.  For kittens, choose balls with bells, crinkle sacks, or other noisy toys.  Rotate the toys to keep them “new” and your pet will thank you! Read more tips about how to choose the right toys for your puppy and kitten.

Whether you are dealing with a puppy or a kitten, consistent rules are a must.  That consistency will make your pet happier and more comfortable.  Remember, they are learning what works and what is allowed.  So a behavior that will not be allowed as an adult should not be permitted as youngster.  Rewarding your pet for the appropriate behaviors will build good habits for life.

For information on PetSmart's Accredited Training, please visit PetSmart's Training website.

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