Your Puppy & Routines

Your Puppy & Routines

     Puppies and dogs, just like people, thrive on routines.  I do not enjoy the repetitiveness of a strict schedule, however, I have discovered that my body, mind and spirit do indeed thrive when I adhere to a schedule.  
     My Cavalier King Charles Spaniels remind me of the importance of having a ‘routine’ everyday.  A great example is that even if we get up late, eat our breakfast at noon instead of at 8:00 a.m., my doggies remind me that at 5:30 p.m. dinner should be served.  They have their ‘routine’.
     I thought that since we ate our breakfast later in the day, dinner would be also later in the day.  Silly human being!
     I have come to recognize that my dogs have a built in clock that I unintentionally and unknowingly set.  If we go out for a walk, they expect to get a treat before they go out, and after they get back.  After breakfast they get a Greenie.  The list goes on.
     I did not plan a schedule, but our ‘doggy’ routine organically evolved, and developed, and if I breach the timeline, or forget a step, I am reminded through barking, excited behavior, and an all knowing glare at the refrigerator.
     Of course these schedules and routines can be changed and altered, but this takes discipline and resolve, for what doggy parent can resist those big brown eyes, staring up at you, waiting, begging, for a yummy treat, snuggle, kiss or walk?
     Over the years I have changed a few routines, such as no dogs sleep in the bed, no more wee wee pads (always go out even on really bad days weather-wise), only one Greenie per day, etc.
     There are a few routines that I did not maintain over the years, or for that matter even tried out.  The reasons vary from working full time and exhaustion to pure laziness.  But all of these reasons are excuses, because if you are a doggy parent then laziness, fatigue and all of the rest are not acceptable.
     So I have put together a list of routines to help you as a puppy parent.  These routines should be implemented as soon as you begin your life with your new four-legged baby. If you follow this list you will find that your life will be a struggle in the beginning, (the ‘training/routine process’ is always a challenge), but after the routine is set life becomes normal with much less stress.

The Routines

Dental Hygiene – Begin brushing your puppy’s teeth every day, or at least every other day.  This is important for their health in later years, as well as, helps them maintain healthy gums, teeth, and fresh breath.  (See article on Your Dog & the Dentist)

Bath Time – Begin giving your puppy a bath at least once a week.  When C.C. and Riece were puppies, they got a daily bath.  I was working full time, and even though I would come home on my lunch hour to feed and walk them, inevitably I would come home after a long day of work to find that they had defecated in their cage, and were dripping with excrement.  So every night I would take them down to the sanitary sink in the basement and give them a bath.  I found it very frustrating as I had read many books on ‘puppy’ training, and followed the rules set forth.  An example is that a puppy will not relieve herself in the crate, cage or bed where she sleeps.  I have had three Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies and every one of them violated this ‘rule’.  My mother told me that puppies are like children - you can read and educate yourself on their upbringing (all of which is essential and good, by the way), but each being – child or puppy – is different and sometimes they don’t follow the ‘experts’ rules or advice.  That said it is still important to expose your puppy to bath time, even when they don’t follow the rules.

     o Bath time tips:

           Cavalier King Charles Spaniels should be groomed before their bath.  Brush their coats, detangle the knots, shave and cut any long hair.  

           Only use ‘dog’ shampoo and conditioner.  NEVER use human shampoo and conditioner on your dog, as canines have a different ph level than humans, and the product will irritate their skin.

           I prefer to use a detachable shower head so that I can reach underneath my dogs, but I have lived in apartments that were not equipped to accommodate my needs, so I had to have two to three Tupperware bowls filled with warm water ready to use for rinsing.

           Get a non slip mat so the dog will feel secure.  Porcelain tubs are slippery and even though people are able to balance, dogs are frightened of falling.  

           I get in the bathtub with my dogs for a few reasons - 

               • 1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are a small breed so it is more convenient for me.

               • 2. If I am in the tub with them they feel more secure, and I am able to brace their bodies between my legs for even more stability.

               • 3. I am able to ensure that they do not try to jump out of the tub, and possibly slip and have an injury.

           Make bath time fun by using your voice.  Dogs are extremely sensitive to sounds (read the article Your Dog’s Senses), and can detect from the inflection in your voice as to whether you are enjoying yourself.  If you enjoy yourself, they have fun as well.

           A small treat after bath time is always an incentive.

  Paw Cleaning – To avoid dirt and dust in my apartment, I wipe my dog’s paws with baby wipes after every walk.  My dogs do not enjoy getting their paws wiped, but I try to make it fun, and I always give a small treat after the wiping.

Nail Trimming – It is essential to begin nail trimming when your dog is a puppy so they get used to the procedure.  It is very scary to trim their nails – they resist, and you could cut to close and accidentally cause an injury.

          o Nail Trimming Tips:

                 Ask your vet to let you observe as they trim your puppy’s nails.  Also ask your vet for advice on the best way to trim, and the best nail trimmer for your pet.

                 Buy the proper nail trimmer.  I suggest a nail trimmer with a ‘guard’ built in.  This helps prevent you from moving the blade to far up the nail.  Also purchase a nail trimmer that is the appropriate size for your puppy.  As your puppy grows you may have to get a larger size trimmer.

                Try to trim your puppy’s nails before nap time or bed time.  It is always helpful if the puppy is exhausted so that she will be less likely to resist.

                Always give a small treat after you trim her nails.  This is a major incentive for them even if they hate getting their nails cut.

                Nail trimmers ware out.  With frequent use, the metal on the blade begins to get dull.  When you use a worn out nail trimmer, the blade is dull and pulls or twists the puppy’s nail causing pain, even if you are not cutting close to the nail bed.  Each brand is different so be sure to ask how many times you can use the product before you have to replace it.

                Above all it is important to trim their nails with confidence.  Dogs sense when you are nervous or fearful and react.  It is important to make sure that you are calm so that they are calm.

Treats – We all love to give our dogs treats, but from the beginning do not give them food from the table or while you are eating.  They learn rapidly where the food is located, and if you are dinning and giving them treats from your plate, you will never be able to have a peaceful meal.  For example, my dogs know that hidden in the big white box we call a refrigerator are all of their treats, so even if I open the refrigerator for a glass of water, I have three, little, doggies begging for a morsel.

          o Type of Treats:

                Check with your veterinarian to confirm which treats are best for your pet.

                I give my three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels – Greenies (only one per day); plain, unsalted rice cakes; carrots; apples; and on special occasions, all natural doggy cookies from the pet store.  As their digestive systems are not accustomed to the cookies, I am also prepared for stomach upset.

Bed Time – Set a bed time for your dog, just like you would for a baby or child.  I have discovered that my dogs need to have ‘alone’ time as much as I do, so for example, we take a walk at 10:00 p.m., and then bed time is at 10:30 p.m.  At first C.C. resisted by barking and scratching at the gate, but now she knows it is time to go to sleep.  

Wake Up Time – Equally it is important to wake up at the same time every day for various reasons including avoiding accidents in the house.  

Eye Cleaning – Cavalier King Charles Spaniels often have debris and mucus around their eyes referred to as “Cavalier tears”.  The tears will accumulate, dry out and spread under the eyes causing a dark, crusty texture.  Also I have found that all of my Cavilers get hair in their eyes, which eventually migrate to the edges or corners of their eyes, and are coated in varying degrees of mucus.  I have made it part of our routine to clean their eyes every day.  

          o Eye Cleaning Tips:

                After the morning breakfast, I wet a paper towel with warm water and gently wash their whole face.  This helps to remove most of the debris and mucus.  While I wipe their eyes, I also talk to them.  My usual dialog is “This is how human mommies clean their babies.”  I do this in a high pitched, fun voice.  All of my dogs do not like getting their eyes cleaned, but I have found that the sound of my voice helps to calm them down.

                Some Cavaliers have very large eyes like my oldest dog LuLu Belle.  Besides the normal residue, she gets hair in her eyes.  I have attempted to get the hair out with not much success.  I asked my vet if I could use a saline solution such as Bausch + Lomb to help.  My vet approved of my idea.  With a small eye dropper, I put a few drops in each eye.  This loosens any debris.  Debris then floats to the edge or corner of her eyes where I am able to remove it with a warm, wet paper towel.  I am very careful as I do not want to scratch her corneas or harm her eyes.

Snuggles and Kisses – Puppies and dogs thrive, just like human babies, when touched.  It is important to make sure that as a puppy parent you stroke, pet, snuggle, and of course kiss your puppy as much as possible.  o While kisses are important and irresistible when your dog is a puppy, make sure that you discourage biting.  Puppies explore their world through their mouth, and to them biting and nibbling are ways they show affection to other puppies.  The issue is that while a puppy nibbling on your finger is rarely painful, if the behavior is not discouraged and eliminated, your cute, nibbling puppy is going to grow into a cute, biting dog.  This may present many problems in the future, so it is best to start the ‘no biting’ routine immediately.  Otherwise, kiss, snuggle, and cuddle your puppy as much as you can. 

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