Category Archives: Puppy

Finding Man’s Best Friend

What is the perfect dog? Often it is the one found spur of the moment on a Saturday while “just looking.” The rule of P’s apply here: Prior planning prevents poor performance. There are many things to consider when choosing a pup. Here are some hints to make this process easier and increase your odds of success.

Preparing for Pup

Before picking up your new pup, you should take some time to prepare financially and environmentally.

How much is that doggie in the window?
Understanding the financial commitment involved with dog ownership is something that is easy to forget when looking into those deep brown eyes and smelling fresh puppy breath. Things to consider include the cost of quality dog food, preventative veterinary care (examinations, dewormings, vaccines, spay/neuter, heartworm and flea & tick preventative, microchipping and licensing), grooming needs, training, boarding and pet supplies. The ASPCA does a good job of outlining some of these costs: 

Financial Surprises and Pet Insurance
There have been tremendous advances in veterinary medicine, but this comes at a cost. Pet insurance is a good way to mitigate unforeseen expenses. BONUS: Some insurance companies offer complimentary insurance coverage for a month! The ABC’s of pet insurance are explained at and you can find end-user supplied ratings for the major insurance companies at

Vetting Veterinarians
Now is also a good time to get recommendations from friends and family for veterinary care and visit prospective animal hospitals. Questions to ask include vaccination protocols, availability of appointments, fee structure (some hospitals have a different fee structure for sick visits), and general practice philosophy. A veterinarian should be your partner when it comes to preventative health care, illness, nutrition, behavior and overall family interactions. Request a tour of the animal hospital to get a feel for its personality; are employees caring, is the facility clean, and are pets receiving the care you would want for your loved one?  

Cozy Confines
Where will your new pal be spending their time? Training a dog to be crate-savvy facilitates potty training, keeps them safe and can allow for easier handling in the future (airplane travel, staying with family while vacationing, care when hurt, etc.). Styles and pricing vary considerably on crates, but planning ahead allows options such as online purchasing. Also be aware that you may need multiple size crates during the growth stage. Use too large a crate too soon and some benefits may be lost. One option is crates that have a divider. Another potential option is to ask your veterinarian if they have a crate loaner program for the growth phase. Lastly, while in the home, it is beneficial to partition off an area that is a safe zone for your new pet. Baby gates and exercise pens can assist with this.

Fenced in Follies or Dog Walking?
When your pet goes outside, will you be walking them or is your yard fenced-in? Invisible Fence in Crystal Lake is an example of pet fencing that doesn’t require a physical presence in your yard. Reputable companies provide a lifetime guarantee, training, and can be installed even if there is snow on the ground.

Picking a Pooch

Big or small, energetic or docile, young or old? There are so many choices when selecting the perfect pup that taking the time to research this part of the process can make the difference between happily ever after or heartbreak hotel.

Pondering Purebreds
When selecting a type of dog, first consider whether a purebred or mixed breed dog suits your lifestyle. Purebred dogs provide a predictable physical appearance, but may also come with genetic (and potentially devastating) medical problems. A good breeder can mitigate many health-related risks. Ask friends, family and your veterinarian for references when selecting a breeder. Indicators of a responsible breeder include allowing visits to their facility, encouraging interaction with the puppy’s parents, interest in whether the breed is appropriate for your lifestyle, and appropriate pre and postnatal care. Middlemen (brokers), meeting representatives halfway to deliver a dog, and puppy stores are all cause for concern that you may be dealing with a puppy mill bred dog. Puppy mill dogs are often inbred, handled infrequently (leads to behavior issues), and may be in poor health ( Lifelong behavioral and medical problems may be established before you even see that cute puppy in the window.

Breed rescue groups are another great way of finding a desired breed. These dogs are often a bit older, but most responsible rescue groups work diligently to match the right dog with the right forever home.

Mixing it Up with a Mutt
Mixed breed dogs have the benefit of being one of a kind. Breed specific medical or behavioral problems are seen less frequently. Petfinder ( allows prospective pet owners to filter through dogs available. Helping Paws Animal Shelter in Woodstock ( and Animal Control in Crystal Lake ( both do a responsible job matching needy dogs with the right adoptee. Desirable shelters tend to be clean, allow adopters to tour their kennels (not just bring dogs to you), and can demonstrate that their dogs have received appropriate medical care from a licensed veterinarian. Far too often dogs are unknowingly adopted with health problems that could have been prevented or treated prior to adoption. When meeting with adoptable dogs look for a willingness to interact and a generally friendly demeanor. While a quiet, submissive dog may be endearing it can also be an indicator of future issues.

Hound Sweet Home

A dog homecoming is an exciting time for everyone. The first week at home is a “getting to know you” period. For young puppies, this time can be exhausting; for shelter dogs that may have bounced from place to place, this time can be a bit unsettling. Be patient, provide a consistent schedule and a safe environment, and keep things low key until everyone has adjusted. Focus on potty training, learning your dog’s signs of fatigue, and monitor for illness (vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, coughing, excessive lethargy). 

Schedule a visit with your veterinarian of choice as soon as possible to identify any potential health concerns and preventative health care needs. This visit should also provide you with additional advice on potty training, nutrition and ancillary services. Avoid communal dog areas (i.e. pet stores, dog parks) until getting the go ahead from your veterinarian. If children are in the household, be vigilant to protect them and your new dog from each other. Children need to be taught how to safely interact with their new pet and ultimately need to be protected from any potentially harmful interactions (

Fun with Fido

Now that everyone has settled in, it’s time to have some fun! There are countless ways to have fun with your new friend. Whether it be as simple as painting a personalized dog bowl or as involved as pursuing advanced training for search and rescue, there are numerous ways that dogs can enhance our lives. Here are a few ideas to consider:

Training – Basic obedience
Training and socialization are beneficial for all dogs. Formal puppy classes, personal trainers and training books can all be of use. A Sound Beginning offers group training and 1:1 classes ( ‘The Puppy Primer’ book provides clear and concise training tips and tricks that makes training effective and fun ( For advanced training, freestyle, agility, rally, obedience and fly ball are just a few of the options available to those interested in pursuing.

Dog Parks
Lake in the Hills (, Crystal Lake ( and Cary ( all have outdoor dog parks. They offer a great opportunity to allow socialization and exercise for your pup and socialization for you with other pet owners. 

You can also check out the following trails that are dog friendly:


Vacationing with your dog is fun and has been made easier with resources found on the internet. See these sites for pet friendly locations, services, and activities:

In Conclusion

Bringing a new furry friend home can be one of the most memorable days for a family. Take pictures, pull the video camera out, write down the funny story behind your new pup’s name. These are the memories that warm the heart and bring smiles for years to come.

House Training, Puppy

By Dr. Karen Burgess

The keys to successful housetraining are consistency and frequency.  The goal is training a pet not to eliminate in improper places (inside the house) and to hold their urine and feces until in a proper area (outside).  The use of a crate or small confined area can expedite the process as most dogs will not chose to eliminate in the same spot that they sleep.  An appropriately sized crate is big enough to allow a dog to stand up, turn around, and lay back down comfortably.  Following are some general guidelines for successful “potty training”.

  • The younger the puppy the less control they will have and the more frequently they will need to go outside.
  • Feeding your puppy on a consistent schedule will help with potty training.  A good method is putting the bowl of food down two to three times daily for 15 minutes and then picking the bowl up.  Water should be offered at all times as young dogs do not have full ability to regulate their water reserves and can thus become dehydrated easier than adult dogs.
  • Puppies tend to need to eliminate after sleeping, eating, drinking, and playing.
  • Your puppy should not be left unsupervised.  If not able to 100% watch a puppy for signs of elimination (circling, sniffing), it is better to confine them in their crate to avoid accidents.  It is helpful to gate off a small area or tie an attached leash around ones waist to better monitor a puppy’s movements and watch for early signs of need to eliminate.
  • All trips outside to eliminate should be accompanied.  When taking a puppy outside to eliminate use a consistent phrase (“outside”) and take them to the same location every time.  Often a location that is as close to the door you will be exiting through is helpful.  Keep your pet on a short leash to allow direct observation and thus praise for elimination.  If your pet has an accident inside you can place the soiled clean up rags in their designated elimination spot to further reinforce this as the proper place to go.
  • Use a consistent phrase every time your dog eliminates (ex. “go potty”, “hurry up”).  This phrase can be used throughout life to designate a time for elimination.  Verbal praise and a treat (dog food kibble) should occur simultaneously with elimination NOT after going back inside.
  • If your pet eliminates, give them copious praise.  This is then a good time for the reward of a walk or play.  If they do not eliminate outside within a short period of time (five minutes) they should be put back in their crate for a period of time (15-30 minutes) and the steps repeated until proper elimination occurs.
  • If your dog eliminates in their crate and DOES NOT require a bath, the crate is either too big or there is too much bedding present.
  • If your puppy is caught in the act of having an accident, make a sound (clapping) or say something (“no!”, “eh-eh”) to interrupt the behavior and take them directly outside to their elimination area.  Reward accordingly for appropriate elimination.  Remember that physical punishment or reprimands (ex. rubbing nose in area of soiling) does not help with potty training and if anything can make a pet fearful or even worse aggressive.  If you have found an area of previous soiling the only thing to be done is appropriate sanitizing (dry cleaning type odor neutralizer) and better observation moving forward.  Most accidents are “operator error” as opposed to puppy error.
  • Paper training may seem like a good idea, but it may confuse a puppy and in the end prolong potty training efforts.  Another option is sod training (placing a small area of sod inside).  This may avoid some future confusion with paper surfaces.
  • A dog is typically not truly potty trained until they have not had an accident for a full month.

Example potty training schedule:
Crate overnight, carried outside on short leash in morning to designated elimination spot, after 5 minutes if no elimination take back to crate for 15 minutes.  If proper elimination occurs, verbal praise and treat, then back inside to start day.  Feed, supervised play.  After hour or two (may need to go out again after eating) then back outside and then into crate for two to three hour “rest time”.  This allows the bladder to be trained to hold urine and the puppy to understand that it is ok to be crated even if people are around.  After rest time, take puppy outside and repeat cycle.  It is often easiest to have a designated “rest time” in the morning, afternoon, and dinnertime.  Always remember to sandwich time in the crate with trips outside (outside, crate, outside).

Elimination problems
The first question to answer when a pet is having issues with inappropriate elimination is whether the pet was ever fully housetrained in the first place.  Also consider whether they has been a change in schedule, elimination location (more difficult to access), or feeding schedules.  In these situations going back to housetraining basics is often enough to get things back on track.

 If a pet is having accidents along with other changes in behavior, an underlying medical or behavioral problem may be present.  Increased thirst, change of urination or defecation frequency, and change in character of stool or urine (ex. loose stool, blood tinged) may all be signs of an underlying disease.  Location of accidents can also be telling as some pets may actually be experiencing incontinence while sleeping whereas urination on vertical surfaces may be marking behavior.   Any signs of discomfort associated with urination or defecation are of note and also require examination by a veterinarian.

Elimination associated with specific environmental situations may be indicative of a behavioral issue are not typically purposeful or under the pet’s immediate control.   Submissive or excitement urination often occurs when a pet meets new people, is stood or reached over, or is overly excited in a situation.  Dogs that have issues with separation anxiety or noise phobia may soil during stressful times.  Specific techniques are used to address elimination issues associated with behavioral problems and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Regardless of cause, a pet that has soiled an area repeatedly should be denied access to this area unless 100% supervised.  Ensuring that the area has been completely sanitized and even changing the substrate (ex. removing carpet, placing a mat over area) are also often helpful.