This post is part of the series in response to Dunbar’s 2012 Australian seminars. See index.
New puppy homes need to have a long term confinement area set up ready for their puppy’s arrival. The idea is that, by using a pen setup in this way, the puppy will self-toilet-train and self-chew-toy-train. It also helps to teach the puppy to be alone. Long term confinement areas are designed so puppies learn where to pee and where to chew, and how to be alone. Basically, a pen like this allows a puppy to make correct choices, and so be successful in achieving appropriate behaviours.
This pen has several features:
- The edges of the bed can (and should!) be taped down to prevent the puppy chewing the bed.
- Kongs should be used to distribute food in the middle. The Kong could be tied to the edge, to prevent it entering the toilet area, or you could raise the toilet area in a litter box so the Kong can’t roll in there.
- The toilet area should be turf and as far from the bedroom as possible, as puppies naturally want to eliminate away from their bed.
- The toilet area should have faeces removed as soon as possible, but the urine should be left so that the odour attracts puppies to return to eliminate in the same spot.
- The water is near the sleeping area.
- There should be plenty of Kongs! Puppies should only be fed from Kongs.
Regarding food toys, Dunbar advocates puppies being fed exclusively from a food toy. Chewing a food toy becomes a ‘good habit’, and good habits are as hard to break as bad habits. Furthermore, the puppy will begin to think, “Why would I chew the furniture? I can’t get food out of it!”
The long term confinement area is not just for puppy buyers, but also for breeders. Breeders should have this area set up to teach puppies good habits from the get go. Here is a video showing how I set up my puppy pen at home. (Dunbar would criticise my lack of Kongs!)
It’s important that the new puppy owner has it all planned. There can not be the opportunity for the puppy to make mistakes and begin to develop ‘bad’ habits that may result in them entering the shelter at a later date.