Dog Behaviour - Toilet-training and barking    
Frequently Asked Questions on Puppy Behaviour 
Judy Quek
Chinese translation: Toh Wan-ting

Email to a veterinarian:

I have a few questions to ask regarding my 11-week-old silky terrier. I tried to toilet-train her by placing newspapers in the cage, but there seems to be some problems such as:

(1) the place where she does her business and urinate is very inconsistent.
How big is the cage?  If it is too small, the puppy has no space to do her business. 
If the cage is too big, the puppy has too much space. If the puppy spends little time inside the cage as it is given free access to roam the whole house, it cannot be properly paper-trained.  Many owners take the puppy out of the cage to play and this upsets the puppy's routine.  Therefore, it has no time to learn where to pass water or stools.  

Most puppies will not dirty its sleeping or feeding area if confined to a small area. But some puppies do not have this naturally clean habit. 

(2) she eats her her own poo.  Is it common? Is there any way to prevent her from eating them?  
A small number of puppies do eat their own stools very quickly. It is not a common problem. 

Solving this problem using using pet shop powder remedies or giving slices of pineapples in the feed have been suggested.   

Some owners do report that the puppy does not eat its stools covered with pepper.    You should not let the puppy see you sprinkling pepper on its stools. Some owners use hot chilli sauce. 

The best way is to pick up the stools immediately but this may not be a practical suggestion. 

There are rare but challenging cases of the puppy just picking up its stools and putting them in a corner.  There are also rare cases of a puppy drinking its own urine.  

It is possible that the puppy is bored at being left alone for long hours.  Chew toys may or may not help to resolve this problem. 


(3) she always bite and mess up the newspapers. How do we prevent her from doing that?

Some puppies chew newspapers. Give her a chew toy or two. For the first 14 days, close supervision of the puppy to  her will be ideal.

Busy couples may need to put up with this paper shredding. When they reach home, just change the papers and not give any attention to the puppy. Use the evenings and week ends to do toilet-training. 

Shouting at the puppy for chewing newspapers may give her the attention she craves and perpetuate the habit in some puppies. 

There are chew balls which reward the puppy with some treats if it is rolled a certain way.  

3.1   Some owners put heavy bricks at the edge of the paper to prevent the puppy from shifting the paper to chew on.

3.2   There are some clipped on trays from Japan. These trays have clips which prevent the papers from being loose and chewed on. 

3.3    Such trays also come with toilet-training pads which look like baby's pampers.  The toilet-training solution is dipped onto the pads and some puppies are effectively toilet-trained.    

3.3   A recent invention by a Singaporean is a heavy rectangular frame of around 8 cm in width. The length and width are those of the  Straits Times newspaper.  This frame is placed on top of the newspaper. The newspaper is placed on a tray of the same dimensions.  In theory, the puppy should not be able to chew on the newspaper. This appliance is available at the Joy Doggy pet shop.    

(4) she has the tendency to keep biting things. Is it ok to let her bite and lick our fingers?

The puppy uses her mouth to communicate with her owner. All puppies love to bite things as their teeth are growing.  They love tug-of-war with ropes but this encourages aggressive behaviour.  They need to chew hard things and some will chew all day while others get bored with the same chew toys. 

It is not recommended that the puppy bite or lick fingers as this may encourage aggressive behaviour or transfer bacterial infections from either party.  

(5) is it really necessary to remove her water bottle from the cage before
her bedtime?

It is recommended so that the puppy does drink after 8 p.m. It does not need to urinate past midnight as she still does not have full bladder control at this age. This method aids in the toilet-training of puppies.

(6) she keeps barking whenever we put her back into the cage. Do we need to buy a muzzle to stop her from barking cuz she's disturbing our neighbours.

She knows she will get attention from the owner whenever she barks.  I hope this is not a case of separation anxiety. A muzzle may or may not be effective.

If the puppy needs to vomit, the muzzle may cause the vomitus to go into the lungs and kill her.  

Some solutions are switching on a small light or radio or keeping the crated puppy in the bedroom with the owner. If the barking is ignored in the first 2 days in the new home, it is effective.

Barking at night is a serious problem as neighbours may not be too happy.  One solution may be to keep the puppy in a crate in the bedroom or get up regularly to say "no barking" to the puppy in a commanding voice.  Singaporean apartment owners usually keep the puppy in the kitchen area.    

Alaskan Malamute at Holland Village on National Day, Singapore
An Alakasan Malamute can be intimidating to small children although many Singaporean teenaged 
girls now no longer scream when they see a big dog approaching them. The Singapore flag is 
displayed at this Holland Village food stall on Singapore's National Day.  

No two puppies are alike. Therefore, it is hard to give standard advices.  Some puppies are paper- trained in 3 days.  Some never as the owners have had no time for training.

Some are leashed in a spot and gets paper trained. Some are crated at short hours and will become toilet-trained if there is somebody, such as the domestic worker, supervising it.  

Spending lots of training the new puppy for the first 14 days makes for an effective and successful toilet-training if the owner knows what to do.  Busy working owners will need to spend the evenings and weekends with the puppy to train it to behave well.  Take it out often to let it be used to people and the external environment. 

Readers who wish to share their experiences, please email your information to This educational article is extracted from the book, "How Your Puppy Can Live Longer". It is sponsored by, "affordable homes for expatriates".  Pictures are   Last updated: 11 Sep 2004