Restricting Water Intake: A Dangerous Housebreaking Trend

00Puppies, Training

Restricting Water Intake: A Dangerous Housebreaking TrendAt Spring Forth Dog Academy, we work with a lot of puppies! Over one hundred puppies come to us each year for Puppy Day School and group classes. As a result, we get to talk to a lot of people about puppy raising.

Over the past few months, we have noticed a very concerning trend. Some of our clients were deliberately restricting their dog’s water intake as a potty training strategy.

Generally speaking, most pet dogs have access to water whenever they are not confined to a crate. They naturally limit their intake of water. Unless trained to the contrary or ill, dogs drink only as much water as they need.

But some puppies join our Day School program and as soon as play group starts, they rush to the water bowl and drink every drop. Or, at drop off, little Fluffy is frantically pulling towards the water bowl we keep by the door.

When asked, owners tell us something like, “He was having a lot of accidents, so we stopped giving him so much water. Now we just give him a bowl every few hours.”

What is normal water intake?

The short answer is, “It depends.” WebMD reports one ounce per one pound of a dog’s body weight, but notes that puppies and active dogs need more.

According to this formula on DVM360, normal consumption of water in adult dogs, in layman’s terms, works out to be about 1.37 ounces of water per pound of body weight. But they also mention, “Puppies and kittens are predisposed to rapid dehydration as a result of their higher water requirements.”

Dr. Tracy Johnson, a veterinarian at Country Companions Veterinary Services in Bethany, CT, notes, “You don’t know how much water is appropriate for each individual puppy. Diet, weather, and exercise can also play a part in how much a puppy needs to drink. This can vary from day to day.”

Abnormally frequent urination and increased thirst are both signs of medical problems. These include diabetes, Cushing’s disease, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease. If you think your puppy is peeing “too much,” talk to your veterinarian before taking the water bowl away.

Keeping a log will help. Note every time your puppy drinks or urinates (indoors and out). The data may help you discover patterns, like an accident at a particular time of day. But, it’s also helpful information to provide to your veterinarian. It may help her make a diagnosis or help you determine what is normal.

Why is water restriction dangerous?

Restricting Water Intake: A Dangerous Housebreaking TrendDr. Julie Mahaney, a veterinarian at Oaklawn Animal Hospital in Cranston, RI says, “Water restriction can result in dehydration, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and water obsessive behaviors.”

There are a variety of medical and behavioral reasons why limiting a puppy’s access to water is dangerous:

1. “Obsessive” behavior around water. If water is limited, you will condition your puppy to drink all of the water every time you put the bowl down. As a result, she will work very hard to gain access to water.

“If water is severely restricted, and the puppy isn’t given enough water and it’s thirsty all the time, you could cause resource guarding because now the water is a very valuable resource,” adds Dr. Johnson. (In addition to being a veterinarian, she is also a professional dog trainer working with dog owners through her business Happy Homes Pet Behavior Training.)

Thirsty dogs may jump up on the counter to try to reach the sink, drink from the toilet, or drink standing water outside. Puddles may contain antifreeze, fertilizer, and intestinal parasites.

“Risks of drinking from puddles are primarily leptospirosis and giardiasis, but other fecal parasites like round, hook, and whipworms could be ingested as well,” Dr. Mahaney explained.

2. Health risks of drinking too much water at once. Dogs with restricted water intake often become conditioned to drink all of the water they see. If your puppy unexpectedly gains access to a large quantity of water and drinks all of it, this can lead to trouble beyond urine accidents.

Health risks of drinking too much water in one sitting include vomiting, water intoxication, or even bloat (gastric torsion) which is life-threatening.

3. Urinary tract infections. Dehydration contributes to painful urinary tract infections. If you’re not giving your puppy enough water, you’re setting the stage for a UTI. If not treated early, UTIs can lead to bladder stones, permanent kidney damage, and sepsis.

We’ve kept statistics on this. Of puppies in our Day School program experiencing restricted water intake, more than half are diagnosed with a urinary tract infection within the first few days of starting our program. When we notice symptoms, we refer the client back to their veterinarian for input.

Is restricting water intake ever a good idea?

I suspect that this idea began with a piece of advice taken too far. Picking up your dog’s water bowl 30-60 minutes before bed time can help set your dog for success. It prevents a last-minute “tank up” right before 6-8 hours in the crate overnight.

That’s very different from only giving water at meal times, which some of my clients have tried. It’s very different from crating your dog without water for 8 hours during the day and 8 hours overnight. If a professional suggests making a change to your dog’s water intake, ask for specifics and write them down. That way, everyone in your household understands the recommendation.

If your puppy is having a lot of accidents in the house, contact us. We can help! In addition to our in-person training in Providence, RI, we also offer long-distance consulting just for potty training.

Training Your Dog to Come When Called

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Coming when called is a behavior that dog owners almost universally desire. A great recall means the difference between participating in a lot of fun activities – such as romps on the beach, playing at the dog park, hiking off-leash in the woods, competing in dog sports – and sitting on the sidelines. We get asked about it so often that we have a class, Come This Way, devoted to building and maintaining this skill!

It is also the behavior that dog owners take for granted in their new puppies, or inadvertently punish by making simple mistakes. Building a strong recall means avoiding these common pitfalls and maintaining a specific, positive association in your dog’s mind to his recall cue.

Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called | Spring Forth Dog Academy in Providence, RI

My Name = AWESOME!

Imagine how most dogs react when they hear a potato chip bag crinkle. They stop what they’re doing and come flying into the room! Hearing that sound is the highlight of their day. THAT is the response you want to your dog’s recall word.

The response to the crinkle sound is so strong because the potato chip bag almost always means a salty, oily, tasty special snack, and it definitely never means playtime is over, nail trimming time, or some other form of discomfort.

Recalls always need to be a positive experience for your dog. Be sure not to call him if you have to do something he doesn’t like. Common examples of things that are punishing to dogs include bringing him back inside when he’d rather be playing in the yard, calling him to groom him or trim his nails, and calling him only to pat him on the head (which most dogs don’t enjoy, but that’s a different topic). More info

Our New & Improved Nosework Class Program in Providence

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K9 Nosework Class Participants in Providence, RIHave you heard about Nosework? This activity for dogs has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Dogs learn to use their extraordinary sense of smell to search the environment for specific odors. It’s open to all dogs, regardless of age, size, breed, or activity level. It’s a fabulous socialization opportunity for puppies. Dogs who are fearful or reactive can often be accommodated in Nosework classes.

Our Nosework Track – pardon the pun – now includes three levels of training classes!

Getting Started in Nosework

If you’d like to try the sport, our introductory level class is Nosework 101: Orientation & Try-It. In this class, JoAnna will present an overview of this activity and explain what the training progression looks like. Then, each dog will have an opportunity to start learning how to search.

This class will be offered 1-2 times per month to give students an opportunity to get started in our program. Current Flex Class students can use one of their Class Passes to participate. If you’re not currently part of our Flex Class program, you can purchase a single class pass to attend this class.

The Next Level

Intro to Nosework is open to all dogs who have attended Nosework 101. In this class, dogs hone their searching skills on a variety of different objects and locations as they hunt for the “hide” – the location where a treat or their favorite toy is hidden.

This class will build your dog’s confidence in unfamiliar environments, encourage curiosity, and drain some of your dog’s energy. You’ll learn to read your dog’s body language and tell when they are getting closer to the hide. After attending a dozen classes and getting approval from JoAnna, students can move on to the next level.

Vehicle Nosework Hide | Nosework Dog Training Classes in Providence, RIPreparing to Trial

In Nosework Skill Building, your dog will be introduced to the three scents used in competitions: anise, birch, and clove. You will learn how to teach your dog to search for and indicate these three scents instead of hunting for food. Hides will become more difficult, increasing the challenge for your dog.

This class is ongoing. JoAnna will come up with increasingly difficult challenges for more experienced dogs, including outdoor (“exterior”) searches and vehicle searches.

If you’ve taken Nosework classes elsewhere, you are welcome to join our program! Contact us and tell us what you and your dog have learned so far, and we’ll help you determine which class is right for you. And if you’re new to this great activity, sign up for the next Nosework 101 class today!

AKC STAR Puppy Program

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AKC STAR Puppy Testing in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyAre you a responsible puppy owner? The American Kennel Club’s STAR Puppy program is designed to reward owners who take their puppies to training classes. “STAR” is an acronym for the four critical parts of puppy raising: Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility.

The AKC recognizes that well-trained puppies make better companions and are less likely to be relinquished to shelters. In fact, behavior problems are the #1 reason for giving up a dog to a rescue. The STAR Puppy program is an incentive program for responsible puppy ownership. Working towards this goal will give you and your puppy a head start toward a lifetime of great behavior.

In order to be eligible for testing, puppies need to attend at least 6 group dog training classes with their owner. The program is open to all puppies up to one year of age, regardless of breed or mix.

Once your puppy has attended at least 6 classes with us, we can test your puppy immediately after any of our Flex Classes. It doesn’t take long, and many of the test items can be observed during class time.

STAR Puppy Test Items

The STAR Puppy test consists of “20 Steps to Success,” a total of 20 test items. The first six are owner behaviors, and the other 14 are puppy behaviors. The items are:

Puppy Day School | Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog AcademyOwner Behaviors

1. Maintains puppy’s health (vaccines, exams, appears healthy)

2. Owner receives Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge

3. Owner describes adequate daily play and exercise plan

4. Owner and puppy attend at least 6 classes by an AKC Approved CGC Evaluator

5. Owner brings bags to classes for cleaning up after puppy

6. Owner has obtained some form of ID for puppy-collar tag, etc.

Puppy Behaviors

7. Free of aggression toward people during at least 6 weeks of class

8. Free of aggression toward other puppies in class

9. Tolerates collar or body harness of owner’s choice

10. Owner can hug or hold puppy (depending on size)

11. Puppy allows owner to take away a treat or toy

Pre-Canine Good Citizen Test Behaviors

Puppy Training in Providence, RI | Spring Forth Dog Academy12. Allows (in any position) petting by a person other than the owner

13. Grooming-Allows owner handling and brief exam (ears, feet)

14. Walks on a Leash-Follows owner on lead in a straight line (15 steps)

15. Walks by other people-Walks on leash past other people 5-ft away

16. Sits on command-Owner may use a food lure

17. Down on command-Owner may use a food lure

18. Comes to owner from 5-ft when name is called

19. Reaction to Distractions-distractions are presented 15-ft away

20. Stay on leash with another person (owner walks 10 steps and returns)

What Comes Next?

After passing the test, owners mail the completed test form to AKC to receive an AKC STAR Puppy Medal, a certificate, and the AKC Puppy Handbook. The STAR Puppy program is a stepping stone to the three tests of the AKC Canine Good Citizen program.

If you have a new puppy, check out our Flex Class program to get started in training classes. You can start any time, and begin working toward your goal of a STAR Puppy!