You've welcomed your new companion home -- now what? We're still here to help!
From crate training to the toughest toys on the market, we've got you covered even after you've finalized your adoption.
Your microchip registration info will come within two weeks from Michelson Found Animal Registry, but it is already active with your information once you adopt. If you cannot locate the email from Found Registry, go to foundanimals.org and use the email you applied with to sign up -- your pet should already be listed or in the Notifications panel -- if not, email us! Sometimes the chips get stuck in the system and we need to email the company directly. Your microchip registration is free for life and you can update the info at any time.
Vaccine, deworming, and other records will be sent within a week of your adoption. Puppy/dog vaccines are listed as DHPP, DAPP, DHLPP, or something similar. Kitten/cat vaccines are listed as FVRCP. Some pets receive additional vaccines, so please bring your records to your veterinarian so they can help you determine what else is needed! Your pets microchip number is also listed on their medical record, but you do not need to do anything with this number -- your pet's chip is already active!
We utilize three spay/neuter clinics per your adoption contract -- Animal Friends, Penn Hills Spay Neuter Clinic, and North Hills Spay Neuter Clinic. You will need to contact Courtney to schedule your spay/neuter surgery between 4-10 months of age unless otherwise deemed medically necessary.
You must bring proof of a current rabies vaccination or you will be charged for one on the day of your appointment. The Foster Farm covers only surgery and pain meds.
By PA law, dogs and cats shall be vaccinated against rabies within 4 weeks after the date the dog or cat attains 12 weeks of age, and maintain a current rabies immunity as prescribed by rabies vaccine manufacturers.
Crate training not only makes housebreaking easier for us (most puppies don’t want to soil where they sleep), but it also provides a safe space for our pups to go when they are overwhelmed by something or someone, or when they are alone and we can’t trust them not to destroy the house yet! Dogs often enjoy having a cozy den-like area to nap, too. But often we still have to show them that it’s okay to be in one alone, which is often the hard part for our social little companions.
Buying a crate with a divider is ideal, as you can have the crate grow with the puppy, which helps with potty training (if they have the space, they might choose a “potty area” and a “sleeping area” within their crate- not exactly what we want)! The overall size of the crate should be just enough for your puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down at their adult size. If you know the size of the parents of your puppy, you can use their crate size or take the average between the two and aim for that.
Teaching our puppies to love their crate can be difficult at first, but be patient and stay positive! We find it easier when we break up crate training by the time of day.
You might have to start with their crate near you or your bed because puppies are just starting to learn to be alone, and they are used to the comfort of their siblings and mom. Sometimes we can even hold a hand or some fingers in the crate so they feel as close and comfortable as possible. If they whine and fuss in the middle of the night, DO take them outside to go potty, but don’t make any kind of big deal about it! Don’t talk much to them, don’t play or feed or pet, but bring them straight outside.
Once out there, give them the cue to “go potty” and simply stand relatively still and quiet, giving them about five minutes to do what they need to. Then it’s back into the crate afterward, again no fanfare, petting, feeding, or play. We often have carried puppies directly from the crate to outside not only to keep them calm and sleepy but to teach them that nighttime is not time for playtime.
If they continue to whine, offer them a finger through the bars and soft words, and make sure they don’t have to also poop. If they are still struggling, make a note to play, train, and exercise them the next night about an hour before bed so they are more tired and less likely to be up all night. The transition from this active period to sleep time should be smooth, not moving directly from hyper to the expecting calm right away. Instead, have your play and train time, then let your puppy have some time to cool down just hanging out with you, chewing a bully stick or cuddling with you, then going to bed after they start to mellow out.
Some puppies benefit from adaptil pheromone spray in their crates 15 minutes before they go inside, as well as using calming supplements like ProQuiet about a half hour before you put them in the crate.
Make time throughout the day to put your puppy in their crate with a special treat they only get during crate time. This can be a frozen stuffed kong, a bully stick, pig ear, raw meaty bone, etc-sometimes even their dinner. You can keep the door open and hang out next to it if they’re very nervous, but if they seem okay, practice slowly closing the door more over time and working up to walking away or being out of sight for very short periods as they enjoy their special treat. As soon as you see them finishing up, go ahead and let them out before they start to worry. This will help build the space as a positive and enjoyable space for them.
Most puppies can hold their potty needs while in the crate for an hour per month of age, plus 1 (roughly). So a four-month-old puppy should be able to wait in their crate for 5 hours before needing to go out, as a general rule. Every puppy is an individual, however, and you might find you need to lessen that number if they struggle with this.
ALWAYS make the crate a positive experience, never one of punishment. If your puppy needs a “time out” you shouldn’t just put them in the crate without any treat or reward for going in there. If your puppy is tired and ready to lay down and sleep, put them in the crate to nap rather than allowing them to nap outside of the crate if you can. This helps them see the crate as a place for relaxation, too. You can also give them treats and praise if they choose to go in on their own. Lastly, when your puppy isn’t around or not watching, toss treats in there for them to stumble upon later as a fun crate surprise!
Teaching them a cue that means “go into your crate!” helps them see it as a positive space as well! Make it a fun and reinforcing trick. You can say your cue anytime before you put them in there yourself, and just before you present them with their dinner or treats which should be fed in the crate OFTEN if you’re not using it for training time! Some puppies get the hang of the trick just with these associations, but sometimes you need to put more effort into actively teaching it. This video here demonstrates a great method for doing this!
Make the crate comfy but still puppy safe by using towels or blankets instead of dog beds (although watch- some puppies will still chew towels, it is just less likely). Be patient and keep at it and soon your puppy will grow to see the crate as his own safe space!
We typically have some rigid rules in place for new puppies that most of the time make housebreaking go smoothly with minimum, if any, accidents. You’ll need treats on hand each time you take your puppy out, and make sure you are taking them out on leash for a while to teaching them to potty on cue. The rules to follow are:
As your pup grows, you can relax on these rules some, but make sure you are consistent for the first few weeks or more to really get your pup into the pattern and understand what you’re asking of them! If you learn best with videos, this trainer explains the process well, too!
NOTE: Frequent accidents or inability to hold it for very long can be a sign of UTI or other urinary issues. Take your pup to the vet anytime you suspect something medical may be causing your puppy some difficulty.
Puppies go through their teething phase from 4-8 months old. During this time you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of chews and busy toys on hand! Have toys of varying textures, bully sticks, nylabones/benebones, antlers (I would avoid these after teething as they can crack teeth), raw meaty bones, etc. This is the time when habits like chewing on furniture or our clothes and hands can get bad. Consistently redirect them to an appropriate object if they chew something they shouldn’t, and make sure you are rewarding them for chewing appropriate things in the meantime.
Some puppies will chew when they are frustrated or tired. Sometimes a nice little crate nap can calm a lot of frantic puppies- just be sure to put them in there with a high-value treat/chew so they can self-soothe if they want to. If they still seem very worked up, try a snuffle mat session to soothe them with the calming effects of sniffing and foraging.
If you are the object of their obsessions, try first to redirect them to something more appropriate, but if the biting escalates and continues to turn back to you, remove yourself by stepping over a baby gate or standing up and turning away from your puppy to remove the fun as a consequence for biting. Avoid scolding your puppy, raising your voice, or pushing your puppy away, as these can actually make the problem worse- they look a bit like wresting and play to a puppy OR can frustrate them.
Our personal preference for teaching puppies not to use humans as teething objects is that we first teach them bite inhibition, THEN teach them not to put their teeth on us at all. Teaching bite inhibition happens early on in the first few days and weeks of having a puppy. To teach them the strength of their bite, you do allow them to nibble on you a bit and use mouthy play, but the moment it hurts, you say “ouch!” And then redirect or leave your puppy (“act offended” I like to say! You turn away and don't look at them until they stand still, look at you, or turn away themselves- then you can return your attention to them as a reward). You can turn your attention back on them almost instantly, as long as they stop going after you as soon as you turn away. Make it very clear to them that you like to play with them when they are gentle with you, but you don't like it when they aren't- kind of like a red light/green light game. Be consistent, because if you allow painful biting sometimes, but not other times, your puppy will never learn what you actually want. And be generous, make sure you are rewarding your puppy when they are doing well!
After a few weeks of this, you should notice your puppy is more gentle when it does mouth you because it wants to keep playing with you. It is around this time that we prefer puppies to start playing with toys instead of hands and skin if that’s a rule I want to be enforced. Some people don’t mind being able to rough house with their dogs into adulthood and that’s fine! If I choose to redirect more often, and really make toy play or appropriate chewing treats interesting and fun for my dog instead of my skin, then I can do that too! But consistency is key.
We highly recommend seeking out professional training as soon as you bring your new puppy or dog home. Even if you've owned many dogs, we can always improve upon our knowledge, methods, and outcomes! Olympic athletes have trainers to support them -- why shouldn't we as pet owners?
Please remember that your adoption contract does not permit the use of shock, pinch, choke, or prong collars for any reason.
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