Pimobendan (Vetmedin®) for Dogs and Cats

Overview of Pimobendan for Canines and Felines

  • Pimobendan, commonly known by the brand name Vetmedin®, is a phosphodiesterase III inhibitor with calcium sensitizing properties. It has been shown to improve survival times and quality of life (lowered syncope, dyspnea, exercise intolerance, and ascites) in dogs and cats suffering from congestive heart failure(CHF).  Pimobendan is an oral medication commonly used in combination with other drugs such as an ACE-inhibitor and diuretic (furosemide).
  • Pimobendan has also resulted in significant improvement in signs of heart failure when added to standard therapy for dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy and has contributed to improved survival in some dogs (Doberman Pinschers).
  • Phosphodiesterase inhibitors block the inactivation of cyclic AMP increasing sympathetic tone and thus cardiac output.
  • Following oral administration of pimobendan to a pet with CHF, the heart rate decreases and the contractility of the heart increases.
  • The oral bioavailability of pimobendan in dogs is 60–63%. It is highly protein bound in plasma (93%) and has a plasma elimination half-life of approximately 30 minutes. The half-life of its principal active metabolite is approximately 2 hours. Virtually the entire administered dose is eliminated in feces.
  • In humans with CHF, pimobendan has been shown to be associated with a slightly increased risk of death (1.8 x) vs. untreated controls. The balance between benefit and risk of treatment with pimobendan remains to be established in humans and in dogs.
  • Pimobendan is approved in Europe and Canada to treat dogs with heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency (mitral and/or tricuspid regurgitation).
  • Pimobendan is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug has recently been approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration.

Brand Names and Other Names of Pimobendan

  • Veterinary formulations: Vetmedin® (Boehringer Ingelheim)
  • Pimobendan may also be registered under the trade names UDCG-115 or Acardi®.
  • Human formulations: None

 

Uses of Pimobendan for Dogs and Cats

  • Treatment of heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency (chronic mitral valve insufficiency).

 

Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, pimobendan can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Pimobendan should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergyto the drug.
  • Also, it is contraindicated in hypertrophic cardiomyopathiesand clinical conditions where an augmentation of cardiac output is not possible for functional or anatomical reasons (e.g. aortic stenosis).
  • Doses of pimobendan over 0.8 mg/kg/day over a period of 2 to 4 weeks may be associated with exaggerated myocardial contractility and jet lesions to the myocardium.
  • Dogs in CHF should be monitored for arrhythmiasduring therapy. If detected, such arrhythmias should be treated appropriately.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetance are possible side effects of treatment with pimobendan.
  • Pimobendan has not been evaluated in dogs used for breed or are lactating or pregnant.
  • Nervous system signs, including in coordination and seizures may also occur. Behaviorally pimobendan may cause uneasiness.
  • Renal side effects include polyuria and polydypsia.

 

Drug Interactions

Pimobendan may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with pimobendan.

Such interactions may include:

  • Pimobendan should be employed with caution with other positive inotropes.
  • Because it is highly protein-bound, careful monitoring is necessary if it is to be used with other drugs that are highly protein bound.
  • Concurrent use of beta-blockers or calcium-channel blockers may decrease pimobendan-induced effects on myocardial contractility.

How Pimobendan is Supplied

  • Pimobendan is available in 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg and 5.0 mg capsules.

Dosing Information of Pimobendan for Dogs and Cats

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The dosage prescribed may vary depending on the reason for prescribing.
  • In dogs, the dose is may range from 0.05 to 0.15 mg per pound (0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg) every 12 hours. It recommended that each dose be given 1 hour before food.
  • In cats, the dose is similar to that of dogs being 0.0125 mg per pound (0.25 mg/kg) oral every 12 hours. This often works out to be 1.25 mg tablet per cat twice daily.
  • It is recommended to give Pimobendan on an empty stomach if possible.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.
  • It is recommended that your pet’s heart disease be monitored while on Pimobendan with periodic electrocardiograms (ECG)’s, blood pressure, clinical signs, weight, respiratory rate, heart rate, and echocardiograph findings.

 

Pimobendan (Vetmedin®) for Dogs and Cats

pimobendan for dogs and cats

Overview of Pimobendan for Canines and Felines

  • Pimobendan, commonly known by the brand name Vetmedin®, is a phosphodiesterase III inhibitor with calcium sensitizing properties. It has been shown to improve survival times and quality of life (lowered syncope, dyspnea, exercise intolerance, and ascites) in dogs and cats suffering from congestive heart failure(CHF).  Pimobendan is an oral medication commonly used in combination with other drugs such as an ACE-inhibitor and diuretic (furosemide).
  • Pimobendan has also resulted in significant improvement in signs of heart failure when added to standard therapy for dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy and has contributed to improved survival in some dogs (Doberman Pinschers).
  • Phosphodiesterase inhibitors block the inactivation of cyclic AMP increasing sympathetic tone and thus cardiac output.
  • Following oral administration of pimobendan to a pet with CHF, the heart rate decreases and the contractility of the heart increases.
  • The oral bioavailability of pimobendan in dogs is 60–63%. It is highly protein bound in plasma (93%) and has a plasma elimination half-life of approximately 30 minutes. The half-life of its principal active metabolite is approximately 2 hours. Virtually the entire administered dose is eliminated in feces.
  • In humans with CHF, pimobendan has been shown to be associated with a slightly increased risk of death (1.8 x) vs. untreated controls. The balance between benefit and risk of treatment with pimobendan remains to be established in humans and in dogs.
  • Pimobendan is approved in Europe and Canada to treat dogs with heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency (mitral and/or tricuspid regurgitation).
  • Pimobendan is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug has recently been approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration.

Brand Names and Other Names of Pimobendan

  • Veterinary formulations: Vetmedin® (Boehringer Ingelheim)
  • Pimobendan may also be registered under the trade names UDCG-115 or Acardi®.
  • Human formulations: None

 

Uses of Pimobendan for Dogs and Cats

  • Treatment of heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy or valvular insufficiency (chronic mitral valve insufficiency).

 

Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, pimobendan can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Pimobendan should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Also, it is contraindicated in hypertrophic cardiomyopathies and clinical conditions where an augmentation of cardiac output is not possible for functional or anatomical reasons (e.g. aortic stenosis).
  • Doses of pimobendan over 0.8 mg/kg/day over a period of 2 to 4 weeks may be associated with exaggerated myocardial contractility and jet lesions to the myocardium.
  • Dogs in CHF should be monitored for arrhythmias during therapy. If detected, such arrhythmias should be treated appropriately.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetence are possible side effects of treatment with pimobendan.
  • Pimobendan has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or are lactating or pregnant.
  • Nervous system signs, including in coordination and seizures may also occur. Behaviorally pimobendan may cause uneasiness.
  • Renal side effects include polyuria and polydipsia.

 

Drug Interactions

Pimobendan may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with pimobendan.

Such interactions may include:

  • Pimobendan should be employed with caution with other positive inotropes.
  • Because it is highly protein-bound, careful monitoring is necessary if it is to be used with other drugs that are highly protein bound.
  • Concurrent use of beta-blockers or calcium-channel blockers may decrease pimobendan-induced effects on myocardial contractility.

How Pimobendan is Supplied

  • Pimobendan is available in 1.25 mg, 2.5 mg, and 5.0 mg capsules.

Dosing Information of Pimobendan for Dogs and Cats

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The dosage prescribed may vary depending on the reason for prescribing.
  • In dogs, the dose is may range from 0.05 to 0.15 mg per pound (0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg) every 12 hours. It recommended that each dose be given 1 hour before food.
  • In cats, the dose is similar to that of dogs being 0.0125 mg per pound (0.25 mg/kg) oral every 12 hours. This often works out to be 1.25 mg tablet per cat twice daily.
  • It is recommended to give Pimobendan on an empty stomach if possible.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.
  • It is recommended that your pet’s heart disease be monitored while on Pimobendan with periodic electrocardiograms (ECG)’s, blood pressure, clinical signs, weight, respiratory rate, heart rate, and echocardiograph findings.

 

How to Be a Good Puppy Owner

Even if the breeder or shelter has done everything right and you adopt a near perfect puppy, it doesn’t take long – if you are not careful – to undo all the good work and create problems that will trouble you and perhaps your pup for the rest of its life.

The first month or two after adoption is the most critical, although the juvenile period that follows is also important. Let’s suppose you adopt your new puppy at 8-weeks of age and let’s suppose you’re heading home with your new dependent to a household that you have carefully prepared to accommodate the youngster’s needs. You have purchased a dog bowl, puppy food, various chew toys, a doggy blanket, an X pen, a crate, a dog bed, and a collar and lead. “Now what?” you may think to yourself as you pull into the drive and carry your new pup across the threshold.

Unless you have been through this before, unanswered questions will pour through your mind, starting at that time and continuing for weeks as you approach one hurdle after the other. Should you introduce him to the whole family at once and allow them to pet him and get to know him? How long will he need to go between naps? Where should he sleep? How often do you feed him? How do you feed him? What do you feed him? What do you do if he cries for attention at night? What do you do if he becomes mouthy? When do you start training him to eliminate outside? When should you begin training him and when and where should you take him to puppy training classes? These and many more questions will need to be addressed if the puppy’s physical health, behavior, and psychological well-being are to be optimized.

The First Day At You Bring Your Puppy Home

As you step across the threshold, your first thought should be for the wee mite. He has just finished a mysterious journey in a jolting jalopy and now finds himself in an unfamiliar den, full of unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. It must be a disturbing time. For that reason, some quiet time, downtime, should be first on the agenda. Perhaps you could bring the pup through to a quiet room and introduce him to his blanket or dog bed, to his water bowl and food bowl, and stay with him for awhile until he becomes curious and starts to investigate. Then other individuals in the household can come along and introduce themselves peacefully and slowly, bearing in mind all the time the pup’s best interest.

Since you can’t spend every waking moment of the first day entertaining your pup, and bearing in mind that he will need to sleep fairly frequently, it is a good idea to set up an X pen in a reasonably well-populated area of the house. Put the pup’s blanket, food, and water at one end and – just in case – some newspapers or a “Wee-Wee” pad at the other end. This can be his sanctuary, a place to rest and get away from it all when things get too hectic or when the owners are otherwise occupied.

What about toileting in the first 24-hours? While some pups can be reasonably well house trained by 9-weeks of age, such success can only be achieved by constant diligence and realistic expectations. A 2-month old pup can only go for about 3 hours between bathroom breaks and will need to be taken out on a regular schedule and encouraged to eliminate outside. Accidents will happen at the beginning and should go unpunished. Proper cleanup with an odor neutralizer should be conducted in the event of an accident, and then the whole issue should be forgotten.

The first night, the puppy should be allowed to sleep in the owner’s bedroom, preferably confined in a crate or X pen. If the pup cries, it should be attended to. You should get out of bed and spend time with it, reassure it that you’re there, speak kindly and then go back to bed. If the crying continues, you can visit the pup again 5 or 10 minutes later and reassure it again. Gradually increase the time between your visits until the pup learns that you are there for it but that it has to stay in its own sleeping area. Eventually, he will go to sleep and, incidentally, the next night the whole procedure will be much quicker as he gets the message that the enclosure is his sleeping area.

The First Week After You Bring Your Puppy Home

On awakening each day, the first thing to do is to pick the young pup from its pen and bring it outside to a well-chosen spot where it can eliminate. A successful “mission” should be a joyous occasion. The pup should know, in no uncertain terms, that you are delighted with what has transpired, and he should be rewarded immediately with praise and, perhaps, a food treat. If the mission is unsuccessful, the pup should be brought back into the house, confined in a relatively small area such as a crate or behind a kiddy gate and taken out again 15 minutes later. Each day, after breakfast, the pup should be taken out again as the process of eating will stimulate its gastro-colic reflex, thus necessitating a “bathroom” run. Regular visits outside should be made during the day at say mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, and last thing at night. Also, the pup should be taken outside when it transitions from one behavior to another, for example, after sleeping, after chewing, after playing, etc.

Dog to Dog Communication

Ever Wonder How Dogs Talk?

Without a sound, two properly socialized dogs meeting for the first time can size each other up in just a few moments. An exchange of glances can tell each canine if they’re going to be friends or enemies. It’s how dogs talk.

How can dogs do this without a sophisticated verbal language? With facial expressions, body language, and posturing. Although dogs signal intent by barks and growls, the message is not complete without the telegraphy of body and facial language. That’s how dogs talk.

Dog Body Language

Various parts of the dog’s body are involved in this form of communication.

Here is a quick primer in canine body language. Here are what canine facial expressions, head and neck positions, gestures, tail position and torso position means as to how dogs communicate.

Dog Facial Expressions

A combination of facial expressions communicate a dog’s mood and intentions that can be understood by other species, including humans. Here are a few examples of facial communication:

  • Relaxed mood: Soft eyes, lit up, looking – but not staring. Ears forward or flopped, with tips bent over (if anatomically possible). Mouth open, lips slightly back, giving the impression of smiling. Tongue hanging limply from the side of the mouth
  • Anxiety: Eyes glancing sideways or away. Ears to the side of the head or flopped. Teeth clenched, lips firmly retracted. Tongue either not evident or lip licking
  • Intimidating: Eyes staring like searchlights. Ears forward. Teeth bared
  • Fearfulness: Eyes looking forward or away, pupils dilated. Ears pressed back close to the head. Panting/breathing hard through clenched or slightly open mouth. Jaw tense so that sinews show in the cheeks
  • Stress: Yawning plus other signs of anxiety or fearfulness (as above)

    Dog Head-Neck Position

  • Head down (“hang dog”): Submission or depression
  • Head in normal mid-way position: Everything is all right
  • Head/neck turned to side: Deference
  • Head held high/neck craning forward: Interest or, depending on other signs, a challenge
  • Head resting on other dog’s back: Demonstrating dominance

    Dog Torso/Trunk/Upper Limb

  • Tensing of muscles and the raising of hackles: Threat/imminent fight

    Dog Gestures

  • Play bow – head low, rump elevated: The universal sign of canine happiness and an invitation to play
  • Paws on top of another dog’s back: Dominance
  • Looming over: Dominance
  • Rolling over: Submission/deference
  • Urinating by squatting: Deference
  • Urinating by leg lifting: Dominance/defiance
  • Humping: Dominance
  • Backing: Unsure/fearful

    Dog Tail Position

  • Tail up: Alert, confident, dominant
  • Tail wagging: Dog’s energy level is elevated (excited or agitated)
  • Tail held low or tucked: Fearful, submissive
  • Tail held horizontal and wagging slowly: Caution
  • Tail held relaxed and stationary: Contented dog

 

The Conclusion on How Dogs Talk With Other Dogs

There is no one sign that gives away a dog’s feelings but if you consider all the body language signs, you can get a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the dog’s head. A dog that is staring at another dog, his ears pricked and his tail stiff, is probably conveying dominance, or at least a wish for it.

A dog that averts his gaze from another dog and hunkers down nervously as if waiting for an explosion is likely fearful and is trying to defuse the situation by acting submissive.

Sometimes body language signs can be ambivalent, however. For example, it is not uncommon to observe a dog growling at another dog while occasionally glancing to the side, backing up, and with his tail wagging. Such a dog is invariably fearful. Whenever fear signs are present, fear is in the equation. These dogs are unpredictable with other dogs and will alter their body language and behavior according to circumstances. If the opposing dog retires, they may jump around and “look happy.” If the opposing dog approaches too close the fearful one may snap or bite. Owners, if present, can help defuse their dog’s ambivalence and uncertainty by taking a strong leadership role. It’s amazing how rapidly a fearful dog’s disposition will change when an authoritative owner steps in and controls the moment. Dogs need strong leaders.

Another aspect of communication is odor. Because dogs have such an amazing sense of smell, it is likely that they learn a lot about other dogs from their smell. That’s what all the sniffing is about. It is difficult to imagine what sort of information passes between dogs via this medium. We do know that intact male dogs “smell male” (because of male sex pheromones) and that neutered males do not have this characteristic musk. By neutering males, we alter the olfactory signals they emit and thus other dog’s perception of them. It may even be that the “non-male smell” equates with a diestrus (in-between heat periods) or a neutered bitch smell.
When an intact male dog meets a neutered one, the response may not be confrontational because the other dog doesn’t perceive a rival. He may believe the neutered dog is female.

Is Your Dog Licking or Kissing?

Do Dogs Lick to Show Love?

It’s a question many have wondered — do dogs lick to show love? Is your dog kissing you when he slurps your face like a lollipop? Although we may never know, there are several possible explanations for this behavior, not all of which are mutually exclusive. The motivation for face licking appears to vary for different dogs and different circumstances.

Background on Dog Licking

Dogs lick for a number of reasons, some of which are purely biological.

  • Bitches lick their newborn pups to arouse them from their postpartum daze. In this situation, licking serves to remove clingy membranes from the pup, freeing him up to move and stimulating him to breathe.
  • Once the birthing and clean-up processes are over, the mom dog’s licking her pups stimulates them to eliminate both urine and feces. It is a couple of weeks before pups will eliminate spontaneously.
  • Licking also serves another more romantic role in the sense that it is a comfort behavior that assists with pups’ bonding to their mom and spurs on their mental development. Do dogs lick to show love? In this case, maybe.
  • From about six weeks of age, some pups lick their mom’s lips when they want her to regurgitate food for them. They lick; she vomits; they eat it. This behavior is a vestige of their wild ancestry and was designed to ensure that they profited from the spoils of the hunt.
  • Licking can also be a signal of submission and so is part of dog’s body language communication system.
  • Pups and adults lick and groom themselves. It is part of normal survival-oriented behavior. Licking their own lips, limbs, and trunk removes traces of the last meal that would otherwise begin to decompose and smell. Quite apart from the hygienic aspects of this behavior, it also serves to keep dogs relatively odor-free and thus invisible to their prey. Domestic dogs retain these instincts even though they are not vital today.

 

Psychology of Dog Licking

Dogs, like people, engage in a number of “displacement behaviors” when nervous or stressed, and many of these behaviors involve self-grooming. You only have to glance to the side the next time you are stuck at a red light to see what I mean. The driver next to you will likely be stroking his hair, looking in the mirror, or trying to pick something out from between his teeth.

Dogs do not experience the stop-go conflict of the traffic lights but they do have their own share of dilemmas. Take going to the vet’s office, for example. We vets expect our more anxious patients to begin nervously licking their own lips as they enter the clinic. They may even lick or nibble their feet or flank. There is no doubt that some dogs lick as a gesture of appeasement and goodwill. They may lick their own lips or may lick a person to whom they wish to signal deference. If the recipient of the licking interprets this behavior as “make-up kisses,” that’s just fine.

Perhaps the behavior is analogous to some forms of human kissing and thus their interpretation may be close to the truth. However, not all dogs seem penitent when they slurp the faces of people they meet. For some dogs, it seems that they engage in face licking because they can get away with it and because it gets a rise out of the person. When licking is performed for such a reason, it may be component of the “center stage,” attention-demanding behavior of dominant dogs. No lick! is a good command to have working for these guys.

Psychopathology of Dog Licking

Some sensitive dogs in stressful environments compulsively groom themselves to the point of self-injury. Licking of this type leads to acral lick dermatitis (a.k.a. lick granuloma). Compulsive licking by dogs is not always self-directed. Some dogs take to licking floors, walls, or furniture. Whatever the outward expression of compulsive licking, the mechanics underlying the disorder are the same. In treatment of this condition, first the underlying anxiety must be addressed though, in some cases, it is also necessary to employ anti-compulsive medication to help break the cycle.

Do Dogs Lick to Show Love?

I don’t believe dogs express their sometimes quite profound feelings for their owners by licking or “kissing.” In fact, I don’t believe dogs really “kiss” at all. Do dogs lick to show love? Perhaps some dogs are so awed by their owners that they feel the need to signal their ongoing deference by face licking. Call it love, if you will.

Ten Things You Should Know About Your Puppy

It’s always a happy moment for parents and children when they first acquire a new puppy. Most people receive a few elementary instructions on how to proceed from the breeder and all except the most foolhardy will have made preparations at home for the youngster’s arrival at their home.

Food bowls and dog beds, collars and leads, toys, and an ample supply of puppy rations, should await the pup on homecoming. With luck, the breeder will also point out the necessity of vaccination and deworming, recommending a timely veterinary visit so that health matters are in hand.

What else then do new puppy owners need to know during the early weeks and months of ownership if they are to give their pup the best chance of becoming a well-balanced, well-behaved, and loving family dog? Below is a list of 10 important things that new puppy owners should know or realize if they are to stand the best chance of success:

  • Appropriate psychological support is required. It is extremely important that young puppies, of say 8 to 12 weeks of age, do not suffer any psychological trauma. They should be nurtured at this stage and allowed to develop confidence, which will remain with them as a positive aspect of their personalities for the remainder of their lives. In this respect, there should be no physical punishment, no yelling, no hitting, and no intimidating of the pup for apparent misdeeds. Negative punishment, i.e. withdrawal of a valued resource [such as your attention] can be employed later as a corrective measure to address any emerging problem behaviors. It is particularly important to ‘be there’ for puppies at times of need and not to leave them alone for long hours. This is especially important at night when the new pup cries for attention. While some folk say, “Leave the pup alone or you’ll make a rod for your own back,” or “Just let them cry themselves to sleep,” this is totally the wrong approach. Rather, the pup should be allowed to sleep in the owner’s bedroom and should be attended to and spoken to gently if it shows signs of distress. It is not necessary to allow the pup to come into the owner’s bed, simply for it to know that someone is there for it and is attentive.
  • Socialization is imperative. While a lot of people pay lip service to the word “socialization” as it relates to puppy training, very few people realize that this should be a carefully thought out, active and ongoing process if it is to achieve the requisite goals. The concept of “puppy parties” is a useful one which entails the introduction of young pups to an assortment of benign individuals of different ages and genders, wearing different types of apparel, whilst arranging for the circumstances to be pleasurable for the pup. This ensures that the pup comes to regard all people, familiar and unfamiliar, as potential friends and benefactors and staves off future fearfulness and even fear aggression. Socialization is an extremely important measure and one to understand and practice. Desensitization to various things that the pup is likely to encounter in its present and future environment is also important. Vacuum cleaners, ironing boards, various sounds, sights, and even smells can be introduced in a graded way for the puppy’s controlled acceptance.
  • Expectations for house training. There is a formula for the amount of time for which a puppy can go without having an accident on the floor. The formula is N + 1 hour, where N is the age of the puppy in months. So a two-month old puppy might be able to hold its urine for 3 hours and a three-month old puppy might make it as long as 4 hours. The point is that if you leave the puppy alone for greater than the time that it can contain itself, an accident is inevitable. Obviously, punishing a puppy for having an accident under these circumstances is totally inappropriate and will lead to great confusion on the puppy’s part. Instead, owners should realize that housebreaking is a time consuming business that requires their close supervision and attention. They must chaperone the puppy out into the yard and reward it for eliminating in the right place while they prevent accidents indoors by giving the pup proper attention and somewhat restricting its access to all areas of the house. 
  • How and what to feed the puppy. Hopefully most people now realize that puppies require somewhat specialized rations because they are growing. The safest thing to do is for the puppy owner to buy AAFCO-approved puppy food, either dry or wet or a mixture of the two and meal feed the pup an appropriate number of times a day. Initially, this may be 4 times a day, at three months it could be down to 3 times a day and later it can be reduced to twice a day. It is probably a bad idea to feed pups table scraps partly because human food will unbalance an otherwise properly balanced ration but also because it will encourage begging behavior at the table later on which is something that most owners do not want to experience with an adult dog.
  • No two puppies are the same. We’ve all heard about puppy temperament testing and, while the scientific jury is still out on this equivocal procedure, the fact is that different puppies do have different temperaments. There are different strokes for different pups. Owners need to appreciate this and adjust their interactions accordingly. Some pups, for example, may be very forward and do a lot of yapping, mouthing, and jumping up. These pups need to be gently reigned in to discourage their rowdy behavior. At the other end of the spectrum are the timid shy pups that need to be coaxed out of their shell. In the latter case, it is helpful to play games that the pup is allowed to win to build its confidence and self-esteem. ‘Tug of War’ is an excellent example of a game that can be used to the benefit of these timid dogs. 
  • The territorial dog and the need for owner leadership. Dogs are a territorial species. With no proper guidance, some will take residence in your home and, as they mature, may gradually assume territorial responsibility for the home, deciding who is and who is not welcome at your door. At this stage, they may simply allow you to be there because you feed them. This is an untenable situation so it is important that from early age you display your leadership and control within your home. The way for owners to demonstrate their leadership is simple and, for some pups, essential. It is simply to insist, right from the getgo, that pups earn their food and treats from their owner. Young pups should be instructed, using a single-word command, to “Sit”, followed by appropriate positioning, before their food is served. Meal feeding is, of course, essential with this technique. Similarly, pups should be required to ear all treats: First a command, then a response, then the treat. It has been shown that these two simple measures, requiring a pup to sit for food and obey a command in order to receive treats, will prevent the development of dominance toward owners and will also likely help prevent untoward dominance-related territoriality.
  • Communication and proper training are key to successful puppy raising. Owners should understand that some kind of training is essential for their pup and the earlier this is started the better. While taking a puppy to puppy-training class at 4 months of age is better than no training at all, the general rule is that the earlier training is started the better – even if it simply involves pairing certain words with certain actions to build the pups vocabulary. It has been shown recently that pups can learn up to 200 words and some can learn many more than that, possibly as many as 500-1000 words. There’s no reason to stop teaching your dog once it has mastered Sit and Down. Proper communication between owner and pup, later young dog, is a sure way to minimize stress and ensure proper behavior. Training should not be about forcing the pup to obey under threat of punishment but rather should entail encouraging the dog to obey because of the positive consequences of its actions. Positive training using a clicker, for example [see clicker training elsewhere on this website] and early acclimation to a head halter control system are really all that is required, if used properly. Choke collars, prong collars, and electric shock collars should not be used to train puppies or adult dogs. Other techniques that are inappropriate (and perhaps even harmful) when training a puppy are jowl grabbing, chin chapping, and alpha-rolling (flipping the puppy on its back and pinning it until it stops struggling).
  • Desensitization to being touched is important. There are lots of things that people need to do with dogs once they grow up and it is as well to get puppies used to any many of these interventions as soon as possible. Handle the pup’s muzzle, pry open its mouth, play with its ears, gently grab folds of skin on its back, chest, abdomen and legs, handle its feet, and get it used to having its tail and nether regions touched and manipulated (your vet will thank you one day). Practice these things every day. 
  • Crates are forever. Many owners think that crates are just used as a tool to assist in housebreaking a pup. Once proper house training has been accomplished, they then pass the crate on to a friend or neighbor or store it indefinitely in the cellar. This should not be so. Dogs are den dwellers and appreciate having a crate around for life. There is no need to shut the door on the crate – simply provide it as a retreat for the pup from the madding crowd of life. A crate should be available at all times for the dog to ‘get away from it all’ or to use if it simply wants to rest. Preferably the crate should be solid-sided to make it den-like and preferably it should have a comfortable pad and bumpers making it a comfortable place for the dog to be. Food treats can be hidden in the crate for enticement and chew toys should be available inside. If you make your pup comfortable in its crate, make the crate a safe asylum from a busy world, it will appreciate it and would thank you if it could. If a dog is comfortable inside its crate, its not unacceptable to shut the door from time to time, if necessary, but not if this induces attempts to escape and not for too long (1-2 hours should be the maximum time and even so, only if the dog has food or toys to occupy it while sequestered). 
  • Health matters. Every owner should make it his or her business to learn something about their pet’s health. They should be cognizant of their dog’s disposition. They should watch out for changes in appetite and body weight and should be wary of other indicators of illness, such as coughing, breathlessness, exercise intolerance, alimentary disturbances and various discharges. If there is any doubt as to the state of a dog’s health it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately for a physical examination, diagnosis of the problem, and treatment, if necessary. Vaccination and de-worming are necessary for young pups. They should be undertaken at a veterinarian’s direction at the appropriate times, usually between 10 – 14 weeks of age. The vet should also be asked about neutering. Dogs that are not intended for breeding should be neutered for health reasons, for behavioral reasons, and for birth control.
  • How to Talk To and Handle My New Puppy

    One thing you have to remember in any dealings with puppies, especially very young ones in the two to four-month window of age, is that they are very impressionable.

    In the first few months of their lives you can set them up for success or failure based on your interactions with them and your ability to guard them against psychological trauma. If you care for them when they need care, have reasonable expectations for them, and set limits of acceptable behavior and protect them from adversity, all should be well.

    Raising puppies properly is an active process that requires you to understand how they might interpret your behavior toward them, including how you address them and how you handle them. If we largely ignore them, rarely speak to them, and hardly ever pet or touch them, they may grow up to be overly needy or withdrawn. On the other hand, if we burble at pups constantly, and pinch and prod them as if they were produce in a grocery store, that too can have negative consequences. Pups so treated become desensitized to human speech and averse to handling, and this can lead to problems down the road.

    It is far better to meter speech and handle the pup in a way that it appreciates, so that it comes to enjoy human company, understands our utterances, and appreciates petting and physical contact.

    The Spoken Word

    Most people make the mistake of assuming that pups understand every word we say. This is certainly not the case and, for them, even when properly educated, English is a second language. Sure they will understand something from the tone in which a sentence or monologue is delivered, but the syntax, verbiage, and sentence structure are beyond their comprehension. A good analogy is to imagine finding yourself in downtown Shanghai without knowing a word of Chinese. That’s what it must be like for a new pup finding itself airlifted from its nest into a new owner’s home and being surrounded by a veritable babble of voices. Of course, a non-Chinese speaking person in downtown Shanghai understands the tone of address. The person would understand whether the person addressing him was angry or agitated, calm or perturbed, attempting to communicate or attempting to shun. But that’s about as far as the understanding would go. The same sort of understanding applies to new puppies in homes with new owners. With this in mind, it is important to keep the tone of your address to a new pup relatively consistent and soothing. Remember, you’re talking to a baby. Two reasonable deviations from “baby banter” that the pup will understand are sing-song praising tones and deeper, gruffer admonishment tones. Of course, most communications should be spoken in neutral tones, and most of the balance should be in the high sing-song praise category. Admonishments should be used sparingly, used when they are due, and should be brief but firm.

     

    Up to now, all we’ve talked about is communication tones, which are extremely important both for puppies and adult dogs. However, words will also come to mean things to puppies as they grow up. It’s a good idea right from the get go to use certain words to cue key behaviors. In general, the words should be spoken in splendid isolation so as not to become confused in sentence structure. You wouldn’t ask a puppy to sit, for example, by positioning the word sit in the middle of a full sentence. This is a sure way to cause confusion. Rather, the word sit should be said on its own in a matter of fact neutral tone and then the pup should be assisted into a sitting position using a lure or manual positioning technique. Likewise the word down and come can be added to the pup’s repertoire as useful commands that, in the future, can be used to help the pup avoid trouble. The pup’s vocabulary can be built upon as it advances in age until the spoken word can be a useful means of communication. Dogs can learn hundreds of words, perhaps five hundred to a thousand, but what they never really understand is language, so don’t expect too much of them in this respect. With youngsters for sure, and into adulthood too, when the spoken word is followed by the requisite behavior, whether you have to assist the pup in this respect or not, a reward of some sort should follow – always.

    Hands on Approach to Handling

    Touching and handling young pups, if performed correctly, is certainly a pleasure for the pup and for the owner. But actually it’s even more important for the pup, because our handling them, like their mother’s grooming, leads to better bonding and accelerated development. Proper handling then is a must if pups are to develop optimally and strike up the best possible relationships with people. But how should handling be conducted? Looking at the two extremes, no handling is bad news for the pup while rough or excessive handling can be equally detrimental. The goal is to find something in between, to be able to handle and pet the pup in a way that it appreciates, and not to short change it of this valued tactile attention while not smothering it in overly indulgent, perhaps unwanted petting sessions.

    How Does My Puppy Learn His Name?

    When children learn their own name, it implies that they have an image of “self,” as distinct from others. Presumably, the same holds true for dogs, though not all would agree that dogs are capable of this degree of understanding. By 2-½ years old, a child has formed a concept of “self” – but does a dog ever achieve this level of self-realization?

    If we take a young pup aged, say, 12 weeks, and always approach him saying, “Sammy,” what does the word mean to him? What does he understand from it? Does he think to himself, “Ah yes, Sammy – that would be me. I’m a small brown dog with bluish eyes and a curly tail”? Or does he think, “Whenever I hear that sound, the person making it is probably focused on me and something is about to happen.” Could it be that the bi-syllabic sound, Sa-mmy, has no more meaning to him than a bell indicating food to one of Pavlov’s dogs? The latter may be closer to the truth – though that doesn’t stop our hero from learning that his given name, when spoken, means that he’s now the subject of our attention.

    What Does the Pup Understand?

    It’s truly hard to say what pups understand by their given name. Sure they hear the sound, and they sure react to it. But that doesn’t mean they realize that the word they are hearing has anything to do with their “self.” And there are other problems with the “name word,” too. People don’t just use the pup’s name when they are addressing it. They also use the pup’s name when talking to their friends. “Sammy was so good today. Ate all his food up.” Sammy hears “his name,” looks up, but no one is paying him any attention. He shrugs, and goes back to chewing on a shoe. The next time he hears his name he doesn’t even bother to look up. He has no reason to. He has now been desensitized to his own name. For this reason, some trainers have owners give their pup two names: one for when they’re talking to him (say, Sammy) and another (say, Dog Face) for when they’re talking about him.

    Using the Word “No

    Then there’s the old enigma of the word, “No.” Unfortunately, this is one of the words new puppy owners find themselves using quite a bit. The dog hears the word No and often notices that people are looking his way. Maybe that’s my name, he might think. Of course, No is used in sentences that are not being directed at the pup, but much less frequently. Half the dogs in this country think their first name is No, so for this reason, trainers often ask owners to use different, more specific words to denote what they want the pup to do. E.g. stop it, leave it, out, and off.     

    Choosing a Name

    Assuming that a dog can be trained to respond to his name, whatever he understands by it, it is as well to stack the deck in your favor by choosing a distinctive name. I don’t mean one like “Claude,” because it sounds fancy. I mean one that he can distinguish easily from all other words. The basic requirements are a) one syllable b) distinctive c) a hard sound (ending in a consonant). One name that should work, for example, is Kurt (as in curt!). Scooby doo is a distinctive name but is too long and is packed with vowels. On hearing the unusual and staccato sound, Kurt, the dog knows he is in for some attention. That means it’s time to approach, grin, wag tail, and all that jazz. (It’s almost as if he knows his name).

    How You Say It

    One other thing about the name is the tone in which it’s used. When speaking to our imaginary friend, Kurt, we would bark out the name, KURT. When speaking with friends we should make a positive attempt to shield him from its impact. “I saw Kurt today and he was looking simply marvelous.” (Note: Kurt said softly, almost under the breath) In asking a pup to come, always use his name first, to attract his attention. Kurt, come here (and then praise him, good boy, even before he comes so he knows he’s not in trouble). The pup’s name is only spoken toward him when you want to get his attention. If you use it before every command, e.g. Kurt, Sit! It will eventually lose it power.

    What is Your Dog’s Personality?

    Every dog has its day – and its own unique personality. We have all met pushy dogs and retiring dogs, highly active dogs and inactive ones, independent dogs and those that are decidedly dependant, social dogs and aloof dogs, confident dogs and fearful dogs, easily distractible dogs and practically compulsive dogs. Personality is a blend of these factors giving myriad individual personality configurations. For humans, their complicated personalities have been distilled into four basic dimensions in the Myers-Briggs personality profile. These are: extrovert/introvert (E/I), intuitive/sensing (N/S), thinking/feeling (T/F), judgmental/perceptive (J/P). These 4 dimensions have 16 possible combinations (ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ, INTP, etc) and these combinations can be arranged into 4 basic temperament types. A similar scheme (not precisely equivalent) might be applicable for evaluation dogs’ temperaments.

    Dominance

    There are definitely canine extroverts and introverts, perhaps more appropriately referred to as dominants and deferents (Do/De). The dominants are full of confidence, are playful and in-your-face type dogs. Deferents are quieter and prefer to keep themselves to themselves: They are seen but not “experienced,” except in a more passive way.

    Questions pertaining to dominance:

    1. If you stare at your dog will he stare back? Y/N

    2. If you try to hold him still, will he resist? Y/N

    3. If you lift him off his feet, might he object? Y/N

    4. Does he ever protect food or objects from you? Y/N

    5. Is he relatively independent? Y/N

    6. Does he demand affection/attention? Y/N

    7. Is he slow to obey commands he knows? Y/N

    8. Does he ever resist petting? Y/N

    9. Does he play roughly? Y/N

    10. Does he make friends easily with most other dogs? Y/N

    Affirmative answers to the majority of these questions indicate a more dominant type of personality. Characterize “Do” >5 ‘Y’s or “De” <5. A midway score (5) will need a tiebreaker decision from you: Is your dog more pushy (Do) or more accepting (De)?

    Predatory

    One of the strongest and most clinically relevant drives a dog possesses is “prey drive.” Those dogs that are most highly driven in this respect versus their less reactionary antitheses might be classified along an axis described as P/S. (P = predatory/driven; S = more sensing/thoughtful).

    Questions pertaining to predatory instinct:

    1. Does your dog like to chase small furry animals (like squirrels and cats)? Y/N

    2. Does your dog like chasing and/or retrieving tennis balls? Y/N

    3. Does your dog chase joggers or cyclists? Y/N

    4. Does your dog case cars? Y/N

    5. Does your dog bark at animals when they appear on television? Y/N

    6. Does your dog try to stop people from leaving your home? Y/N

    7. Does your dog chase its tail? Y/N

    8. Does your dog like playing Frisbee? Y/N

    9. Does your dog spend a lot of time on walks searching/exploring ? Y/N

    10. Is your dog good at following scent trails? Y/N

    Affirmative answers to >5 questions indicate high prey drive (assigned P). Affirmative answers to <5 questions indicates a dog that functions more from experience than from instinct (assigned S). A midway score (5) will need a tiebreaker decision by you: Would you describe your dog as more of a hunter/reactor (P) or tending to base actions more on experience/learning (S).

    Fearfulness

    All dogs may show fearfulness at times but some are more likely to have their lives affected by fear than others. It is logical to be frightened about something that threatens to be harmful. It is not logical to be excessively fearful of numerous, apparently innocuous cues. This axis can be described as T/F same as for people, except that in this case F stands for fear. A dog can thus be more a more thoughtful type, reacting appropriately in the face of possible threats (T) or be excessively fearful, an over reactor in the face of perceived threat (F). 

    Questions about fearfulness are

    1. Does your dog react oddly (hide, roll, squat, urinate, bark, lunge) in the presence of strangers? Y/N

    2. Is your dog intimidated by men wearing beards, hats, boots, uniforms? Y/N

    3. Does your dog hide or act aggressively around unfamiliar children? Y/N

    4. Does your dog attack the majority of other dogs? Y/N

    5. Is your dog frightened of loud noises or storms? Y/N

    6. Is your dog afraid of small spaces, wide-open spaces, or stairs? Y/N

    7. Does your dog appear anxious while being transported in the car? Y/N 

    8. Does our dog act fearfully or aggressively in the veterinarian’s office? Y/N

    9. Does you dog bark, destroy things, or urinate ONLY when left alone? Y/N?

    10. Does your dog follow you around the house, look anxious when you prepare to leave, and greet you exuberantly when you return home? Y/N

    Interpretation: Affirmative answers to >5 of these questions indicate a more fearful type of dog. Affirmative answers to <5 of these questions indicates a dog that functions more as a result of functional assessment of the world around it than out of fear, mistrust and suspicion. Rate dog as either T (acting more appropriately as a result of intuition) or F (acting dyfunctionally out of fear). If your dog scores in the mid range (5), you will need to make a tiebreaker decision as to whether he is more thoughtful (T) or generally more fearful (F).

    House Training Schedules for Puppies

    Almost the first thing a new puppy owner needs to know is “how do I house train”? How do I do it, what can I expect, what should be my goals?

    Without the right advice, owners can flounder around trying to house train their puppies for months and, in some cases, years.

    Opinions and expectations vary greatly on this matter, though there are some common truths. Some maintain that puppies can be adopted already house trained at the age of 9 weeks but you have to understand the certain physiological limitations if you are to achieve and maintain this utopian state. At the other end of the spectrum are certain terrier breeders who maintain that their puppies cannot be fully house trained until they are 1 year of age, but I suspect these folk are doing something wrong.

    It is probably par for the course to bring home a 2 or 3 month old puppy that, when unsupervised, has occasional accidents on the floor, and it is probably reasonable to expect to have the puppy fully trained by 4 months of age. In order to achieve this goal one has to know what one is doing, to invest some time and attention, and to be very patient.

    Physiological Limitations Within Young Puppies

    Young puppies of 2, 3, and even 4-months of age have limitations when it comes to the time for which they can contain their urine. The younger they are the less control they have over the muscles that start and stop the flow of urine and the more frequent “bathroom breaks” need to be. The usual formula for estimating the number of hours for which a puppy can hold its urine is N+1, where N is the puppy’s age in months. So, for example, a 3-month old puppy should be able to hold its urine for approximately 4 hours in a pinch. This means that if you have a properly toilet trained 4-month-old puppy that, theoretically, can hold its urine for 5 hours, and you shut that puppy in a crate for 6 or 7 hours, you are courting disaster. Puppies that are crated for longer than they can contain themselves will be forced to soil where they stand. This creates problems down the line as soiling within the crate destroys a valuable reflex to keep the nest clean.

    Sample Schedule for a 3-Month-Old Puppy

    • Working on the basis that a 3-month-old puppy can hold its urine for up to 4 hours, any house training schedule for a young puppy of this age must be designed with this fact in mind.
    • Starting at the beginning of the day, it is important to take the puppy outside first thing to a carefully selected area and to encourage it to void urine and feces. It is best to have the puppy on lead so it doesn’t wander off and become engaged in some other absorbing activity. It is also important to use some word cue that the puppy will associate with elimination. The late, great Barbara Woodhouse popularized the expression, “Hurry up,” as the verbal cue but others have used words like, “Make,” or even “Poopies.” Note: The significance of the chosen area can be imparted to the young puppy via its sense of smell by depositing a small piece of urine-soaked newspaper in the vicinity.
    • Assuming a successful mission at, say, 7:00 a.m., the latest time that the pup can be taken out for its next “bathroom run” would be 11:00 a.m. The same ritual as before is engaged.
    • The next times for this learning puppy to be taken out are 3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and then 11:00 p.m. The ritual is always the same.
    • A puppy of 3-months of age will probably not be able to make it through the night without a trip outside. Setting the alarm for 3:00 a.m. may be the only way to stop the puppy from soiling at night, but don’t worry, this stage of puppyhood doesn’t last long. (Read here for advice on paper-training your puppy.)
    • In addition to the aforementioned times for taking the puppy outside, the youngster should be taken out 10 or 15 minutes after each meal, as eating stimulates the gastrocolic reflex. Note that different puppies will have slightly different times after a meal at which they need to go to the bathroom. Learn how long it takes for your puppy to “feel the urge” and be cognizant of this fact.
    • Another key time to take puppies outside is when they transition from one activity into another. For example, when they wake up after a nap, when they have finished a period of vigorous play, and when they have just completed a bout of chewing.

     

    Common Puppy Training Situations…What TO DO if…

    What to do if Your Puppy’s “Bathroom Run” is Successful