• How to Train a Puppy During Recovery

    How to Train a Puppy During Recovery

    Dog owners are happier and healthier than non dog owners, studies have shown. They don’t feel lonely or isolated and their dogs provide constant and loving companionship.

    You too can reap the rewards of having a dog. These rewards begin at the puppy stage, when you train your dog in the ways of the human world. Recovery can be a tedious and arduous road that can take you backwards. But having a puppy keeps you busy and focused. Here are a few areas of puppy training that can boost your recovery program.

    Making a Plan

    Having a routine for your puppy in relation to his playing, sleeping, eating and toilet habits, gives structure to your own life. If you reinforce good behavior with praise, treats, hugs and exercise, the training is easier. But flexibility and perseverance are needed in difficult times so as to build trust and mutual respect. Shouting or jabbing at the pup will induce fear and indifference. Giving up totally shows that you can’t commit to anything. Finding creative solutions to puppy problems makes recovery problems more manageable. If you hit a brick wall, seek help from the vet.

    Potty Training

    Choose an outside spot to serve as a toilet area. Lead your puppy there on a leash, at the start and end of each day, and several other times in the day including after he’s eaten, played or napped. Go round the spot a few times while repeatedly uttering the phrase you want to associate with the act of emptying out such as “go empty”. Reward success with praise and a healthy treat.

    Potty training needs commitment. There will be house accidents but don’t scold or punish because the puppy will stop being forthcoming. A sign that your potty training has been mastered, when, each time your puppy wants to empty out, he or she automatically approaches the back door and paws or scratches at it, or displays other rare behavior.


    Regulated feeding times mean regulated toilet times. Puppies tend to urinate within a time span of half an hour to an hour and to defecate about seven times a day including shortly after each meal and napping time. Keep a diary to help determine exact times. To start, give your puppy half a cup of food, three times daily and two cups of water, twice daily. Topping up feeding and water bowls throughout the day will lead to unscheduled and haphazard eliminations. With your vet’s guidance, offer a high quality, dog food diet which can easily be digested and then emptied out.


    Wear your puppy out with lots of exercise and training before bed. You too will benefit if you’ve been having sleeping problems. Place your puppy’s crate close to your bed to help determine the time for the toilet. The crate should be large enough for your pup to comfortably stand, lie down to sleep and chew on toys. It’ll be difficult for your pup to hold out the whole night, at first, but shortly you’ll be allowed to sleep seven straight hours before you have to take him out again. Play repeated crate games with appropriate commands so he or she comes to associate the crate with sleep.

    Play and Tricks

    Puppy games will invigorate your recovery when it hits a low point. And when you laugh happily, your body’s stress-reduction chemicals are discharged making you more relaxed and confident. Play with your pup after a toilet trip. You can play ‘fetch’, or simply hug and stroke your pup. Even pouring your heart out to this uncritical, loving audience is good therapy in stressful times.

    Teaching social skills makes overall training easier and prepares your pup for interaction with other people and dogs when you take him or her out. Useful commands are sit and come. Five to 10 minutes a day will do as pups have a short attention span. Socialization is challenging but helps to improve both yours and your pup’s mental capacities. You return to your recovery program feeling more resourceful and innovative. To teach the sit command, hold a treat way above the pup’s head and say, “SIT”. The pup is forced to sit so as to look up at the treat. If he does, hand him the treat. With practice, the pup will automatically sit from simply hearing the command. It will be easier to teach other commands from the sitting position.


    Allowing your pup exercise and daily walks is not just good for his or her health. Studies have shown that you as the dog owner will get plenty of beneficial exercise along the way. Additionally, not only does it enable your pup to get used to other situations, people and dogs, but you too get the chance to meet and make lasting friendships with other dog owners rather than turning back to your pre-recovery buddies.

    Alone Time

    When you need time alone to get on with other aspects of your recovery program, confine your pup to his crate with his or her chew toys. Younger puppies, need a number of naps during the day. Stay close. When you’re through with your task, straightaway take your puppy outside to empty out. If, during confinement, he or she shows signs of restlessness like sniffing, squatting or barking, a toilet trip is in order.

    Puppy training adds drive to your recovery program. It diverts you from your urges, and helps you stay sober and healthy. If you’re not into puppies, having one around could cause misery to both you and the puppy and bring your habit back. But there are lots of different but equally rewarding hobbies you may pursue.









    Benhilda Chanetsa has a BA Honors degree in History and Sociology and a teaching diploma, both from the University of London. She was a high school teacher for 11 years, and chief subeditor at a weekly newspaper for four years. She’s been a freelance lifestyle writer for the past 10 years and has two nonfiction e-books published on Amazon. The books are on overcoming negative thinking and surviving abusive relationships.

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