Posts Tagged ‘puppy behavior’

Pet Collar & Harness Recommendations

We get a lot of questions from pet owners about the best collars and leashes for dogs and cats. It can be confusing, because pet collars come in a wide variety of styles and materials. To simplify things, we summarized our recommendations:

  • Smooth materials—such as leather—tend to be gentler on the coat and skin of short-haired pets. A collar without any jewelry or metal ornamentation is best for long-haired dogs. We never recommend prong collars as the prongs can be easily bent and get caught on things; these collars can also cause skin irritation and bleeding.
  • The size of the pet dictates the width of the collar. Meaning, smaller breeds need thinner collars.
  • A collar fits well when you are able to easily slide one to two fingers between the skin and the collar.
  • We recommend removing your pet’s collar when he is safely indoors so that he does not catch his collar on anything.
  • If your pet stays in the backyard or anywhere else unattended, we recommend a breakaway collar for your pet in the event that he somehow snags his collar on a fence or other hazard. We highly recommend microchipping your pet so that there is an additional means of identification if your pet gets loose when not wearing his collar and ID tags.
  • Harnesses are a very good option for puppies and small breeds, especially when the neck area may be sensitive (eg, the pet pulls or strains against the leash). Specifically, the Gentle Leader and Easy Walk Harness are great options for pets that require additional control. These are both gentle, non-choking collars. Step-in harnesses are a good option for skittish pets, as they make it difficult for your pet to wiggle out.
  • Break-away collars are ideal for those cats that need to wear a collar, especially because cats do a lot of jumping onto different surfaces.

If you have any other questions about collars or harnesses for your pet, feel free to give us a call at 212-257-6900.

Francisco DiPolo, DVM CVA


Puppy Potty Training: Do’s and Don’ts

As a veterinarian in an urban setting, some of the most common topics that new pet owners bring up with me are related to potty training. Many of us lead a hectic life, and it can be hard to find the time to put in the effort it takes to adequately train pets. However, time and patience are critical, and consistency will generate the best results.

There is no specific method of training that will work for all pets, but in general, some type of confinement is crucial to minimize accidents. Limiting a pet’s space will do two things: It will maximize the likelihood that they actually urinate or defecate directly on the training (“wee-wee”) pad, and/or it will help you pinpoint the best time when they are more likely to “go” outdoors. Most dogs in our practice will start with the pad training and then transition to outdoor training. So, I’ll focus on the indoor/pad training this time around.

The confinement can be accomplished by using a crate—or even better, by using a pen with a crate and other objects inside, such as toys. New puppies are meant to spend a lot of their time in this pen, and it is crucial that they feel well-adjusted in it. The whole idea is that if the pet lives in an area that has a large surface covered with wee-wee pads, they’ll have a higher chance of “hitting” the pad, and then they can be positively reinforced when they do so. So, each time your puppy is seen peeing or pooping on the pad, give him a treat and/or praise and attention.

Once a pet has evacuated, he or she should be allowed a little more access to the house for a period of time. But, keep in mind that after an hour or so, they may feel the need to go again—so back in the pen they go.

It’s unrealistic that your adorable puppy will live an accident-free lifestyle (especially early on), so be prepared to react (or not react) the right way. Because attention is such a powerful reinforcement tool during training, you must steel yourself with patience and fully ignore when undesired accidents happen. This is critical. The focus should be towards creating the set up so that they can perform in the way you want, and making sure that there is a reward system to help them repeat that behavior.


1- Use confinement as a way to increase the chance of evacuating in the right place.
2- Have a consistent reward system—such as treat—that is only used for training purposes and at no other time.
3- Ignore the undesired behavior.
4- Be patient and consistent.


1- Try to explain your puppy how to behave.
2- Scream, yell or communicate out of frustration.
3- Let your puppy roam around the house for extended periods of time until he or she is fully trained.
anything else other than for rewarding the right behavior.

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