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A veterinary surgeon at and founder of a licensed housing agency for expatriate rentals and sales at

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Cocker Spaniel steps on stools when excited.

"Is the American Cocker Spaniel toilet trained after 1 month with you?" I asked the happy, tall and slim mother of 2 handsome boys on this fine Sunday afternoon. It was like going back to the past for me on seeing the 2 brothers now that my 2 sons are young adults. It was the last case, a vaccination on this fine Sunday afternoon.

"He steps on the stools when he is excited," the lady said. "He poops 3 times a day, within 5 minutes after eating at 8 am, 12 noon and 8 pm."

Now, it was good news to know that the puppy pooped promptly inside the play pen. It was already one month and the puppy still stepped on her stools. Why?

Failure to reduce the newspaper coverage of the floor of the playpen
The pet shop operator selling the puppy had advised covering the entire floor of the playpen with newspapers. Soiled newspapers should be removed except for the last sheet. This was done for the past month. The puppy pooped on the newspapers away from the feed and water bowl combination set and slept next to the set (north of the set).

"The newspapers should be reduced in area so that the puppy just poops on the papers. The papers become the toilet location. " I said. "In this way, she becomes paper-trained."

"I did not know that," the lady said. Is it too late now?

Playpen is too small?
It is possible that the puppy has grown bigger and the 4 panels of fences forming the playpen make a too small area for the puppy. Another 2 panels to enlarge the playpen may be a solution but I had not proposed this as the apartment may be too small to accommodate this extra space.

In any case, the playpen fences should be taken out and the puppy should go to the newspapers to poop after eating. "Praise and give a food treat when the puppy poops on the newspapers," I advised.

Peeing on the 2 floor mats near the bathroom
"Friends told me that puppies like soft areas to pee," the lady commented. "I have removed the 2 'rugs' as I did not want the puppy to pee on them. She had peed on the carpet in the bedroom."

"Most puppies prefer soft flooring depending on what type of flooring they are brought up. Where does she pee on now?" I asked.

"She pees on the floor tiles near the bathroom, where the rugs were positioned" she said.

"Put soiled newspapers with her urine smell onto that area and let her be paper-trained by praise and food treat reward," I advised.

Pooping area
The puppy poops soon after eating on the newspapers in the playpen. Now, how to train her to be paper-trained in one spot? I advised moving the playpen near the bathroom , take out the panels and let the puppy poop near the bathroom. It sounds difficult as the puppy is quite active.

No distraction by the children till after elimination.
The 2 boys may have distracted her as well. I did not enquire whether the boys were present when the puppy was fed.

Neutralise the bedroom carpet.
The urine smell must be neutralised with white vinegar:water at 1:3 so that there will be no urine smell when the puppy later goes to the bedroom. Presently, the puppy should be confined to a smaller room (outside the bathroom) till she is paper trained. However, she should NOT be confined to the playpen as it may be too small for her now.

Will these advices work? I don't know till I see the puppy 3 weeks later for the 3rd vaccination.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

59. The Golden Retriever puppy does not go to the bathroom by herself

Sunday Mar 18, 2007

The last case was a busy IT career couple in their early 30s, coming in with a Golden Retriever for her 3rd vaccination and lots of questions about the puppy care.

"Have you heard about Marriage Convention in Suntec City?" I asked as I saw the couple holding hands at one time. I presumed the Convention was for married couples in Singapore. It was advertised on radio FM 90.5.

"No," the couple answered.

"I guess you don't tune on to 90.5 which is for baby boomers."

"We listen to 98.0 or 95..." We were one generation apart.

"Did you know about the Convention?" I asked Groomer Mark. He was from the baby boomer generation.

"Yes," Mark said. "It is meant only for couple with marital problems."

I thought it was just an educational convention.

Anyway, the Golden Retriever puppy could be the family member since the couple asked so many questions over the one hour.

For the benefit of time-pressed couples in similar situations, I record my advices on toilet training of a bigger breed living in the apartment in Singapore.


Golden Retriever, female, 4 months old
Seller: A home breeder in an apartment. The puppy was housed on tiled floor in a balcony area with other puppies.

3 weeks after purchase.
The puppy does not go to the toilet location on her own.

The toilet location -
a bathroom. She sleeps on the tiled floor, under the sink (a favoured area for a den as it provides safety from 'predators'). She pees on the newspapers only.
Overnight, the newspapers is wet suggesting peeing overnight (no water intake after 10 p.m advised by me, to help her to control her bladder till after breakfast).

She poops twice per day after breakfast and dinner, outdoors. After eating, she is immediately taken outdoors, downstairs. She pees a bit. When the couple comes home at around 9 p.m, the puppy had peed on the newspapers. They don't know her peeing times as during weekends, the puppy is taken outdoors and not at home.

Based on a formula of N-1, where N= age in months, the 4-month-old puppy should be able to hold her urine every 3 hours. This is just a guideline. So, after breakfast at 8.30 am, she would pee at around 11.30 a.m, 2.30 p.m, 5.30 p.m and 8.30 p.m, 11.30 p.m, 2.30 a.m , 5.30 am.

From my survey of 400 puppies, the past midnight peeing is usually once. So, it is likely to be around 2.30 - 5.30 am. Stop giving water past 10 p.m in this case will enable the puppy to control her bladder and it will not be harmful for the puppy as she has water for the whole day.

So, she does NOT pee much when brought downstairs at 8.30 a.m and 9.30 p.m.

The couple was working long hours 5 days a week. To prevent the puppy peeing inside the apartment when let out, the owner has leashed her.

"When you let the puppy out of the bathroom toilet in the condo living area, monitor her closely for behavioural signs of elimination," I said.

"I did," the lady owner would look for signs like sniffing and turning around and pull the puppy's leash to get her into the bathroom. "I didn't know you monitored her," the husband rubbed his sleep-deprived eyes.

"Did you give a treat after she pees in the toilet when you bring her there?" I asked the lady.

"No," she said.

"Since your puppy is always looking for food, she would be most pleased to be rewarded with a food treat and would perform well," I said.

So, a food treat would be advised in successful toilet training. Sometimes it is as simple as that.
The leash is long enough for the owner to pull the puppy to the toilet location but it does not help to train the puppy to go on her own. How to do it?

"Go toilet," I said to the lady owner when she sees signs of sniffing etc. Carry the puppy to the toilet location instead of pulling the leash.

Or give the short command and pull the leash. I forgot to tell her that as our discussion was not so well structured as my writing.

Will it work? Will she be able to remember.

"Neutralise the apartment with vinegar: water 1:3," I said to the lady. "Put the mixture on a piece of cloth or towel and wipe onto the floor. Rinse the floor.

"Smells of urine inside the apartment makes the puppy wanting to pee there. Vingear is an acid and neutralised the puppy urine which is alkaline."

"Will Dettol do?" the lady asked. Dettol is famous in Singapore as a disinfectant as well as in Hongkong, especially after the SARS viral outbreak.

"Some owners tell me that Dettol works but I don't know whether Dettol is acidic or not. There are enzyme deodorisers used by some owners too."

"You already have a schedule for the puppy after breakfast and dinner," I said. "Puppies, like small children crave routine. Except that during weekends for the past 3 weeks, the couple had brought the puppy out. So, there was no time for indoor training."

For new puppy owners, it is best to give a fixed schedule of indoor toilet training for the first 2-3 weeks for the whole 3 weeks including weekends.

But it will take a longer time and eventually, this couple should be successful in asking the puppy not to pee inside the apartment.

Short commands like "Pee Pee", lavish praises and a food treat have been used very successfully in toilet training amongst Singaporean puppy owners.

The puppy did have raw hide treats daily to chew. She also shreds newspapers. For the past 3 months, she had soft stools and raw hides with "milk flavour" may be a reason as some puppies are lactose (found int he milk) intolerant. Treatment for soft stools was given. There were many questions like how to prevent the puppy chewing off the bathroom piping, as this was the first puppy.

The puppy would sleep under the sink inside the bathroom when the couple was at work. She would pee on any towel or rug used as bed. So, the tiled floor is the bed. She does pee on the newspapers as she was brought up in that way by the home breeder who was a school principal.

I hope this article is useful for time-pressed couples.

How many times does a 4-month-old Boxer pee a day?

I have a 4 month old boxer puppy? How many time should she pee? It look like twice an hour. is that to much?


Mon, 19 Mar 2007 07:25:37 +0800 (CST)

From:"Dr Sing KY" Add to Address BookAdd to Address Book
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Subject: Re: How many times will a 4 month old pup pee

Generally, a 4-month old pup pees around every 3-4 hours.

If it is really twice an hour, on average, for the past 24 hours or more, get your vet to check for an infection.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

58. Don't overburden your aged mother with a urine-marking dog

"Thank you," the 60-year-old home-maker woman surprised me with thanks, as I put the urine-marking Maltese into the crate in preparation for neutering.

We are from the baby-boomer generation but had travelled different paths to become senior citizens of Singapore (anybody over 55 years old are in this category). She became a mother at a young age while I was still studying. Her children are grown up and working while mine is still studying.

"Women have a lot of children at that time, in the seventies," I said.

"Not possible because of a law requiring women to be sterilised if they had more than 2 children. Did you know it?"

"I remember about the law controlling the number of children," I said. "Were you ligated?"

"Yes," she said. "Not only were home-makers affected. A school principal also had her fallopian tubes tied up too. Otherwise, her 3rd or 4th child would be forced to be schooled far away from home. It was just too expensive and stressful to send 4 children to 4 separate schools."

"Yes, it was a 2-children-policy with penalties. Are you angry at the government now? "

"It was necessary to control the population explosion at that time," she said.

"Too much work," she said when I asked about the urine-marking of the male Maltese. "8 times a day or more mopping the floor and walls and furniture."

I faced the daughter who is a professional. "Why do you make your aged mother do work when she had already cleaned up your bottom when you were a child? Shouldn't she have time for herself instead of cleaning up after a dog? This dog should be neutered earlier at 6 months of age."

The daughter said, "It is my younger brother's dog. I will talk to him about neutering."

The good daughter left with her mother. That was a few days ago. I did not expect any response as Singaporeans seem to be against neutering of male dogs (in my opinion).

Surprisingly, the brother agreed. I understood the meaning of "thank you" from the mother. It meant that she had more time for herself if the Maltese reduced or stopped urine-marking.

To alleviate the work load of the senior citizen mothers, grown up children must neuter the male dog if he starts to urine-mark. The operation is not so effective at 2 years of age. It should be done at 6 months of age. But it is better late than never.

At least the aged mother can spend her golden years doing things she liked. Not everybody has maids. So, grown up children need to free their aged mothers of extra chores.

The Shih Tzu's poops facing the best view and was given Restricted Water intake.

Unusual case of water restriction with no apparent health problems in this Shih Tzu.

"Incorrect card," I said to my veterinary assistant as the Chinese name on it did not match the ethnic origin of the client with the Shih Tzu.

"That card is correct,' the single lady who brought the female, 3-month old Shih Tzu puppy home 2 weeks ago said. Life is full of surprises. I have been mistaken for a Sikh because of my surname "Sing". Many clients think my name is "Singh". But this is the first time I had a non-Chinese client with a Chinese name.

Another surprise was that the owner restricted water intake to the two times a day as she found that the puppy got wet in the face. The puppy loved to put her face into the water bowl. "Actually, a water bottle would be better for Shih Tzus," I said. "The long ears don't get wet."

This puppy seemed to be single-minded. On day 1, she chose the best view of the high-floor condo --- the marble flooring of the living area near the window (floor to wall glass) to poop. Subsequent days, she would only poop there.

The career lady said "Poop here" pointing to the newspapers placed on a plastic pee pan. Newspapers had been sprayed with commercial urine spray. The puppy would pee on this pee pan whenever the owner placed her onto the pan, but she will still poop on the marble flooring near the window.

"Any accidents?" I asked.

"2 times. It was my fault," she said. "Once I put the pee pan inside the bedroom, so the puppy could not find it. Another time, I forgot to put the pee pan to its usual place. I use a separate mop, water and Dettol to clean up the urine spots.

Fed 2 x/day. Breakfast and dinner. Poops a lot, 10 min after eating.
Water bowl removed soon after drinking. The puppy puts her face inside the bowl and play with the bowl.

Peeing a lot of times. Morning 2x. Afternoon 2X if the owner is at home. Evening 2X. Soiled newspapers changed. Peed overnight. The puppy sleeps in her own room.

Had kennel cough for the past 2 weeks.


1. The puppy was put inside the playpen during cleaning up as she was active and played with the mop.

2. Water should be available at all times. Water can be stopped at 10 p.m. Maybe a water bottle in this case?

3. Train the puppy to poop onto the tray. May be difficult now.

4. "Accidents" 2 x in 2 weeks, due to the fault of the owner, is rare. It is good to prevent "accidents" rather than training the puppy after "accidents." Maybe the taking away of the water bowl resulted in less urination?

A follow up would be good.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Miniature Schnauzer - Not toilet trained after 2 months

1. Miniature Schnauzer, Male, born on Sep 17, 2006. Now over 4 months old.
2. Problem - Not toilet trained for the past 2 months.
3. Working couple in their thirties. Wife at home in the morning.

The owner consulted me as the puppy became lame after hitting his right paw on the wall while playing ball with the owner. His 3rd and 4th digits of the right paw were painful but should be OK. "Is the puppy toilet-trained?" I asked the owner. Toilet training is a big problem in Singapore's apartment puppies of small breeds. It is a common problem in many doggie books I read too.

Why is the puppy not toilet trained after 2 months at home?
It is a challenging question for a veterinarian to answer. It takes a lot of consultation time to ask questions of the owner. Busy vets just do not have such time for the owner but it builds a good relationship and helps the puppy who may be disciplined or scolded for soiling the apartment.

1. Housing. Playpen. On the left half, a wire grating (flooring) with pee pan. The owner puts the puppy pads (diapers) onto the pee pan from the 2nd month. On the right half is the sleeping area. A water bottle is attached on the right upper end. No feeding inside the crate.

2. Feeding outside the playpen.
Feeds 2 times/day. Finish eating in 5 minutes.
Poops 4 times/day at unknown times. Overnight, he poops x2.

2.1 What is the problem - why the puppy does not poop after eating?
The owner plays with the puppy for 30-60 minutes after eating.

After playing the puppy poops on the floor tiles anywhere in the living area. This is not what the owner wants. "He does not poop inside the playpen or onto the grate. The grating has been used for the past one month.

2.1 Solutions: Eat, poop inside the playpen. Then play with the puppy after he has pooped.

3. Pee. He will not pee onto it because it is soiled and my wife and I are not around to clean it," the owner said. Pees only when carried onto the grate or put inside the playpen when the owner is at work.

4. Recommended schedule:

4.1 9 am & 7 pm
Breakfast & dinner. No playing with the puppy till he poops onto the grate. This may not be so easy initially.

4.2 If taken out of the playpen, play near the playpen. Observe for signs of sniffing, circling, looking at the floor, squatting. Carry the puppy onto the grate. Do not miss the signs till it is too late. Spend a short period every evening e.g. 2 hours, as it may be too tiring to do for hours. However, such training will benefit both parties in the long term.

4.3 If the puppy is home alone, he is put in the playpen. He will not pee more than 1 time onto the grate. In this situation, cover the floor with newspapers or puppy pad. The problem is that the puppy shreds both. So, it is rather expensive to use the pads.

4.3.1 However, the newspapers should cover the whole floor. (I forgot to tell the owner about the newspapers covering 100% of the flooring even if the puppy shreds --- it is easier to write and think of the solutions when writing). This is the better option as it is inexpensive.

4.3.2 However, the puppy pads can be taped onto the floor tiles. Probably the puppy can still shred it but the owner has not tried this before. So, he does not know. I told him that the puppy pad is meant for the puppy to pee onto it, not to be put under the grating in the pee pan. Some Singapore owners do that but it is not meant for that purpose. The puppy pad has a urine smell to attract the puppy to eliminate onto the pad. In this case, the puppy has shredded it. So, the owner uses it incorrectly by putting below the grating. The problem here is that the puppy pees once onto the grating and will not eliminate more than one time!

4.3.3 According to my notes, I suggested a bigger area for the puppy e.g. common bathroom or kitchen. It is good to write down notes when discussing the case. The owner suggests using the panel of fences forming the playpen to be the "baby gate" so that the puppy cannot get out of the kitchen to the living area. It was useful idea as it saves money buying a baby gate. The puppy does not feel confined too much as in the playpen.

Useful exchange of ideas.

4.3.4. Neutralise the urine smell on the floor of the living area, common bathroom or kitchen with white vinegar:water 1:3.

5. I showed the owner an example of a Chihuahua who is "grate-trained" by the owner. It is in a recent blog. The Chihuahua just goes into the crate (which has a grated floor). The pee pan holds the puppy pad. He eats inside the crate. Poops onto the grate floor. Poo is removed quickly. His bed is outside the crate.

6. I hope the owner will provide me the feedback and a picture. The puppy will be happier companion as cleaning up takes up a considerable amount of time for a working couple. Some senior citizen mothers also complain about such chores. Toilet train the puppy young. This Miniature Schnauzer still has hope.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

54. Browny's Fear Imprint Periods - Follow up on No. 52.

Jan 25, 2007


Hi Dr Sing,

I managed to take some more pixs. Hope they are useful to you. I have increased the resolution this time, guess it's much more clearly. Can you answer a few questions for my understanding.

1) Will dog feel lonely if they sleep alone? These few days Browny often hide at one corner instead of sleeping at his bed and he looks miserable. But When I place his bed beside me while I trade in the night, he sleeps soundly. Do they feel frighten at night?

SOMETHING (e.g. noise? lightning? lizard? cats fighting downstairs?, some naughty boy knocking on your door past midnight? ) had frightened him during his "fear imprint" period.

He feels unprotected as he does not have a "den" (4 walls of a cage). He "hides" in one corner because the corner is the space between the vertical wall and the side of his big cushion bed. In that situation, he feels secure in case "predators" attack him (wild dogs have a den or hole in the ground with only one opening).

With you around, he feels secure and able to sleep. Many puppies do sleep alone at night and do not feel frightened. Some owners switch on a small light.

The "fear imprint" period is the time when the dog gets easily frightened and remembers the incidents. There are 2 fear imprint periods. I believe it is around 3-4 months of age and around 6-9 months of age, but you need to check this out.

2) He looks worried and afraid when I bring him down for a walk. He just refuses to walk and his tail was between his legs. How to train him to be bolder?

MANY CHIHUAHUAS are timid. They shiver and tremble at the vet clinic. Your dog has not been socialised much by the breeder --- meeting people, going out, going to strange places and noises, different smells.

It takes time to slowly get him to be exposed to the outside world. Give him basic obedience training outdoors. Praise and treat. Training to last around 5 minutes. Make training fun. Use a clicker training method if you have time.

3) He is a bit small in size. Recently I have change his food to a brand which is
holistic food. What other supplement can I provide? beside the yellow
vitamin which Dr Teo has given.

HE IS BORN SMALL-SIZED. He is not thin when I saw him last time. Does he like the new brand of food? If you have fed him people food, he may not be eating much dry food.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

53. Kopi is 9 months old - What is "drip drip?" Rachel asked.

Kopi's owner is quite hard to track down as she is an extremely busy career woman. Lots of paper work. I went to her office without appointment once. She was at the dentist. I managed to see her 2 days ago.

"He stops eating his breakfast," her eyes lit up when she spoke about Kopi. "I took away the food bowl after 45 minutes. I asked a pet shop owner in the East Coast. She told me that Kopi, being a male, may be more interested in females. Does he drip drip on the floor? Some male dogs do that. Terrible... He may need to be neutered. Ask your vet...."

"Small breeds like the Chihuahua are very finicky eaters. They are very smart. They know that if they don't eat, the owner will change the brand of food. And that is one reason. Sometimes, they have tasted people food and will not want to eat the dry kibble. Did you give him food from the table?" I asked.

"Yes," Rachel's mother said. "Some minced meat."

"So, that's the reason Kopi does not want to eat the dry food. He hopes and gets people food."

"Does he urine mark your walls?" I asked.

"Only one spot. But he does urine mark outside the apartment at the common corridors and I have to clean them."

"Yes, many male dogs do urine mark." I said. "Best to neuter him early to stop this anti-social habit."

Rachel's mother rolled her eyes up. It seems to be cruel to neuter him.

"You can train him not to spray urine onto common corridors. Bring him downstairs to do it on the grass," I said.

"Yes, he goes down at 4 pm to wait for Rachel to come back from school. Every child is excited to see him."

"He is very friendly and good looking," I said. "How's Rachel coping with Kopi?"

"Rachel is very close to him. So, she seeks less attention from me." Mum sighed with relief. "But she may be distracted from her homework."
The poor child had piano and ballet lessons, I believe. Whether it is good or bad, I don't know but it sure broadens the child's mind.

"Only thing I can't explain to Rachel," the mum said. "Rachel kept asking me what the pet shop owner was talking about the 'drip drip'?"

I guess the birds and bees lesson has to wait till Rachel grows older. It is really difficult to be a mum nowadays, with so many questions from a 7-year-old.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

52. Puppy training pads on pee pan --- less smelly?

Young man with an interesting self-employed job.
Chihuahua was easily trained as it was young. Male, Born 30 August 2006.

Important points
1. Too late to carry the chihuahua when he has pooped. He poops 2x per day, after meals.
2. He usually poops inside the crate.
3. However, he is very clean. So the poo must be cleared before he would poop.
4. Puppy training pad (diapers) is meant for urine only. Put onto the pee pan. Last around 4 days. Saved on changing all the time. Less smelly.
5. Now he goes to the crate to eliminate.
6. If he poops outside, put the stools inside the crate and tell him to poop in
the crate.
7. If he is caught having "accidents", let him finish his elimination. If you catch him, he would run away to hide below the sofa.

lst 7 days, used newspapers. Friend recommend pads. Put some urine spray onto the pads.

2nd week - repeat training. Goes to the cage to toilet. An IKEA puppy bed is put outside and beside the crate.