Puppy Preschool Class One

Hello and welcome

Puppies are going to be nervous and excited today and it is entirely possible that your puppy will either hide under your chair or be embarassingly boisterous!  Don't worry,  this is all part of the learning process.  We expect to see them come out of their shells, and learn some social skills over the next few weeks.

This week we will talk about some important preventative health measures as well as the all important question of toilet training and mouthing. Of course there also will be plenty of time for questions!


It is well recognised that isolating puppies can result in anxiety and behavioural problems. Socialising your pup with healthy, vaccinated dogs in a clean, safe environment is recommended. Puppies attending our Puppy Pre School are required to have their first vaccination but may not have completed their full course.

Ten days after they have had their final vaccination they can really start to go out and experience the world. Introduce them to all the sights and sounds of the city as well as a variety of people. Please see the socialising checklist attached.                  

The Diseases that we vaccinate against:

  • Canine Parvovirus

  • Distemper

  • Hepatitis

These diseases are highly contagious and can be fatal.

After finishing the course of puppy vaccines an important booster is given a year later, around 15 months of age. From then on the vaccine is given every third year to maintain immunity.

  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus

  • Bordetella (Canine/Kennel Cough)

Otherwise known as Canine cough, comes in both a viral and bacterial form. It causes a dry hacking cough that often finishes with gagging and can persist for several weeks. When dogs are kept in close proximity, in grooming parlours or dog kennels, the virus spreads very quickly. Many of the cases we see are transmitted by social dogs playing together in parks. Vaccination for Canine Cough is needed annually to provide the best protection for your dog

Puppies are excited and nervous at the same time.  We supervise closely to make sure they are not overwhelmed.


Your puppy may have been exposed to fleas already. If they haven’t they soon will be as they start to venture out into the world. Every time they have fun with another dog, visit a park, or sit under a table in a cafe while you enjoy a coffee, your pup is at risk of picking up fleas. Even in your own yard contamination can occur when cats come to visit.


Flea bites itch and dogs can become allergic to the flea saliva resulting in a severe reaction to only a small number of bites. Severe infestation in young pups will cause anaemia. That is why having your pup on a regular, safe, flea preventative is highly recommended.


Understanding the flea life cycle

Adult fleas can live on dogs for up to a year. Flea eggs and faeces (flea dirt) fall off and are so spread in bedding and wherever the pet goes. Eggs hatch to mobile larvae, who moult twice before spinning a cocoon and pupating. It is almost impossible to kill a pupating flea. The adult flea hatches in response to vibration, changes in light intensity, carbon dioxide or heat. Hatching takes less than a second. The flea springs out towards its host.

Checking your dog for fleas

Adult fleas are small, brown and wingless, a little larger than the size of a pinhead. They move fast, can leap great distances and can be very hard to find, even on small white dogs! Look for flea dirt, which is actually flea faeces. It looks black, but will appear red brown when smeared on a wet tissue. Flea eggs look like tiny, white sand grains.

Our pups are lucky there are very effective and safe preventative treatments available for fleas.  

Intestinal worms


Worm your puppy every two weeks until they are three months old.

Then, worm your puppy every month until they are six months old.

From six months of age, dogs who live in an urban environment need to be wormed every three months. Dogs that regularly visit rural areas, be they bush or farms should be wormed every six weeks.


Heartworm is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and causes lung disease and heart failure in dogs. It can take up to two years for an infected dog to develop symptoms, but during that time mosquitoes that bite them carry the infection to other dogs. Foxes in and around Melbourne can also carry heartworm. 


In an infected dog worms up to 30cm long choke the major blood vessels of the lungs. The first symptom is usually a cough that gradually worsens. The dog can’t exercise and becomes lethargic and inactive. In the advanced stages collapse and death can occur.

Heartworm can be prevented through an injection or in a combined tablet or spot on treatment. For puppies, the injection is given at 12 weeks of age with a booster at 9 months and 15 months which will line up with their annual booster C5 vaccination. 

We are fortunate that there are only low levels of heartworm in Melbourne - and we want to keep it that way!



In Australian native parkland and out in the bush, ticks live on wildlife and will attach to and feed on dogs. Bush tick bites cause local irritation and paralysis ticks can kill. Paralysis ticks are a common danger to dogs that live on the East Coast of Australia. However, they can be known to travel down the coast particularly in peak season when people are frequently making trips up and down the coast over a summer holiday. Ticks can be prevented through a combined tablet.


There are many parasite control products around and it can be difficult to decide which to use for your pup.  Click here for three options with a simple choice between the injection, tablet or topical  treatments.


Toilet Training Tips


Control your puppy's environment.  If your puppy is unsupervised they are more likely to have an accident.  Take them outside for routine breaks every 45 minutes - 1 hour.  Only increase the length of time when you are confident your puppy can hold on.


Go with your puppy.

  • Puppies must learn to associate the feeling of needing to go toilet with taking themselves to their designated area for elimination.

  • Take your puppy outside (or to the designated area) and wait until they eliminate. Remain calm – we need to send a clear message that this is not play time.

  • Quiet praise once they eliminate and option to add a cue such as “go toilet” or “go wees”, whatever you prefer. Note: wait until they are actually eliminating before you say the cue, otherwise it does not send a clear message for future toileting.

Look for signals.

  • Paying attention to your puppy is imperative.

  • Generally, your puppy will give you signals such as circling or sniffing. Sometimes they may whimper.

  • When you see the cue, take them to the toilet area and praise when they go in the correct spot.

  • Puppies typically need to go toilet as soon as they wake, after eating and after a play session.

Every pup is different, but with patience most pups are getting the hang of it after a week or two.  Over the first few weeks continue to be vigilant as they can regress. The more consistent you are, the faster you will see results!

A good rule of thumb is 6 weeks and no accident, you can assume your pup is fully toilet trained.

What to do if your puppy has an accident.

Do not reprimand!

  • This can have a negative impact on your puppy and may make them hide their accidents from you in future (such as behind a door or under a table).

  • Do not punish accidents whether during the act or if discovered later.

  • Punishing may incline the puppy to be less likely to toilet in front of you, making it difficult to encourage them to go where you want them to.

  • Remember, ignore the bad behaviours and reward the good. Ignore the accident, clean up quietly and try better next time

Stay Consistent

  • We want to set our puppies up to succeed. Keeping the same designated areas will limit confusion for our puppies. Note: it is possible to train your puppy with training pads (for circumstances when you may not be home) as well as having a grass patch outside.

Clean up accidents with enzymatic cleaners

  • Puppies are drawn to eliminate where they have been previously, therefore it is important to clean with an enzymatic cleaner to completely break down the urine smell.

  • Bleaches and disinfectants may have an ammonia base which, to your puppy may smell like urine.

  • Washing detergent mixed with water is a great option, otherwise there are various products available either at the pet store or in the vet clinic specifically made to clean urine accidents throughout the home

Mouthing and Biting


Mouthing and chewing inappropriate items is often the most common problem behaviour we see. This is due to puppies investigating the world through their mouths! Think of puppies having the life motto “if I see it, I can eat it”. It is important that we start with diversion techniques early and STAY CONSISTENT! Ensure that everyone who comes into contact with your puppy interacts with them the same way as you would.

Things you should do to teach your puppy appropriate behaviour

  • Provide your puppy with various chew toys and rotate them regularly to keep the toys interesting.

  • Remove a toy if your puppy is eating it.

  • Practice “give” the toy by exchanging it for another toy or a treat. We must make an exchange, so that you are not taking something away from them, but rewarding them for handing something over. This will reduce your puppy becoming possessive of certain toys. If pup becomes possessive over a toy, it is a good idea to throw it away or it will prove difficult to swap for something else.

Things you should avoid

  • Do not play with your puppy using your hands.

  • Do not tell your puppy “no” when they mouth you as this will rarely stop them. Your puppy will often continue to mouth and play, sometimes more rambunctiously due to the reaction you are giving. Remember: any attention is good attention in the perspective of a puppy.

Do not reprimand your puppy for mouthing you.  Instead either:

  • Stop the play immediately, ignore your puppy or turn away from them and, if necessary, leave the room.*

  • Redirect your pup’s attention to a soft toy or rope toy, instead of your hand.

  • Yelp or whimper as a litter mate would if they were bitten too hard or played with too rough. This will not work for every puppy, but has been shown to work for some.

*if we feel as though we need time out from the puppy, we must remove ourselves from the environment rather than putting the puppy in a ‘time out’ zone.  This is because time out zones are the backyard or in a play pen. If we respond negatively to our puppy and place them in time out, that immediately creates a negative space. This is alarming for the dog when expected to stay in that space for a long period of time, usually when owners go out to work or school. This can unsurprisingly create feelings of tension and anxiety in the pup when they are left in that negative zone.

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