Oct 14 2014

How to Get Your Puppy to Sleep At Night

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When Eric and I first got Max, he was only 8 weeks old. He was a cute little puppy, but he was scared to be away from his mother for the first time. He cried a lot through the night for the first few weeks that we had him. Max, Eric, and I didn’t get much sleep.

It was especially tough for me, because I’m a notoriously light sleeper. Just a few months before we got Max, I made Eric buy Good Morning Snore Solution for himself, because his snoring was keeping me awake at night. And Eric was sleeping right next to me! Max wasn’t even in the same room as us, but we could hear him whimpering all across the house.

The truth is that there aren’t any fool-proof methods for getting your puppy to sleep. Puppies don’t know that they’re supposed to go to sleep at night. However, there are a few things that can help.

The most important thing is to get your puppy a space where he can sleep and be comfortable. Eric and I got Max a large plastic cage, which we reused when we got Charlie as a puppy. But you want your puppy to feel comfortable there, so it’s best to put some blankets and toys in his sleeping area with him. That way, if he does wake up he might be content to just play by himself, rather than make a lot of noise.

I also think it’s a good idea not to force your puppy to go into his cage, if at all possible. We wanted Max to associate his cage with his toys, rather than any unpleasant experience. So when it was his bed time, we always tried to get him to go into his cage on his own, rather than picking him up and putting him in it. Sometimes it was unavoidable when Max was being stubborn, but generally we avoided it. I think this worked well. Sometimes Max went into his cage to go to sleep on his own, even when it wasn’t night and we weren’t trying to coax him.

The next most important thing is to minimize the chance of accidents. Even if your puppy isn’t housebroken yet, most dogs don’t want to pee where they’re sleeping. They’ll start barking when they need to go. When Max was a puppy, we always took his water bowl away by about 8:00 PM, so that he couldn’t drink anymore in the late evening. Also, it’s a good idea to let your puppy go outside to pee just before you put him to bed for the night.

Puppies usually can’t hold it in throughout the night no matter what you do, so you probably need to just resign yourself to getting up at least once during the night and putting him outside. But if you take the precautions above, it shouldn’t be more than once.

Finally, you want to make sure that you aren’t reinforcing your puppy’s bad behavior. If your puppy starts crying at night, put him outside to go to the bathroom, but don’t play with him or pet him. And after he’s been out, if he keeps crying when you put him back in his cage, it’s usually a good idea to ignore him. This will teach him that he can’t just summon you whenever he’s bored.

I hope this helps. Hopefully these tips will help both you and your puppy get a better night’s sleep!

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Oct 13 2014

The Best Toys For Your Puppy

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When Charlie was a puppy, he constantly chewed on everything he could find. Aside from chewing up the furniture, he loved to get into my clothes and beauty products if I left them in careless places. He chewed up several socks, took my makeup brushes, and even ran off with a tube of my best whitening cream, Meladerm cream. (Before he hurt the skin lightening cream or himself, I managed to take it away from him.)

As the mama of two dogs, I’ve learned the importance of getting puppies good toys to keep them occupied. You should just accept that puppies are going to chew. It’s in their nature, and there’s no stopping it. Therefore, you should get them some toys so that they don’t actually damage anything valuable.

One of my favorite dog toys is the Kong. It’s round, but it looks like three spheres stacked inside each other, like Russian nesting dolls. It’s made from very hard rubber. Your dog will love to chew on it, but it will be practically impossible for him or her to destroy it. Since it’s round, it will roll easily. Charlie loved to attack it, then chase it when it rolled away from him. This was one of his favorite toys when he was a puppy. Actually, it still is. He’s on his second Kong now, but considering he’s 2 years old, I think we definitely got our money’s worth from it. These are pretty cheap too…you can get them on Amazon for about $12, or from a pet store for slightly more.

Another great toy is a simple tennis ball. Obviously, these are super-cheap, but your dog won’t know that. Charlie loves tennis balls. My husband and I throw them to Charlie in the yard, and he’ll bring them right back to us. Maybe golden retrievers are better about this than other breeds, but even if your puppy won’t bring it back, he or she will still love to play with the tennis ball on his own.

The one drawback to tennis balls is that they aren’t very durable. If your puppy is a hearty chewer, he or she may be able to destroy them in a few days, so you need to carefully monitor your puppy to make sure there aren’t any large tennis ball pieces that he or she could choke on.

Another great puppy toy is a low-intensity red laser. No, don’t let your puppy eat this. But you can point the laser at the floor, and your pup will chase the red dot. I think that dogs must think that it’s some kind of an insect. Charlie was never really that interested in lasers, but Max absolutely loves to chase the red dot. These are good cat toys too; Molly loves to chase the laser point. These are especially nice for families with both dogs and cats. Another great thing about the laser is that your pets will still enjoy it as they get older. Max is five years old now, but he still chased the laser as though he were still a puppy.

These are my favorite puppy toys. Which toys keep your pooch occupied?

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