return to main page

Montage Puppy Notes



XPENS  The xpen is one of the most useful pieces of puppy equipment money can buy, both in and out of the house. 36" tall is a good height for puppies.

36" tall xpen placed in a kitchen corner
Xpens provide a safe place to stow your puppy while you are busy. Put the xpen in the center of activity and the puppy can still be part of family life without getting into trouble. A great place for the puppy to eat, have a nap, or time out from the action where other family dogs or children can't bother him. Add a shade tarp for security and shade outside, using clips. Link several xpens together using snaps to make a portable outdoor or indoor play area in whatever size you like. Xpens fold up flat for storage and travel.
Puppy safe area outside.      Shade tarp.         Two 42" xpens linked together (a good height for adults).

Clips to secure the tarp.      Snaps to close the xpen.      Use a space blanket with shiny side up.      Xpen folds flat.

Xpens also come in soft-sided material. Disadvantages are they are easier to tip over unless secured. Advantages are they won't scratch your walls or the inside of your car. They are lightweight and great for traveling. In a hotel room you can use bungee cords or velcro ties to attach them to chairs at 2 ends. Put a waterproof tarp underneath, hang a water bucket and you're set for the night!


Another way to make a puppy safe zone is by using BABY GATES to block off rooms to keep a puppy in (or out). 30" tall is a good height. Choose an area central to family life, where potty accidents are okay and you can safely leave your puppy when you are not home. If you have a varikennel, take off the door and leave it there (injury could occur if leave crate with door hanging open!) with a comfy mat inside to provide a sleeping den. Or, just leave a sleeping mat. Also chews and toys to teeth on. Make sure there is nothing the pup can get into trouble with inside this area. You can put some newspaper down as a potty area for puppies not housebroken. Use the puppy safe area to help your puppy learn to be separated from you without anxiety. Click here to read about how to use a puppy safe zone to minimize Separation Anxiety in your puppy.

A simple and inexpensive wood & plastic baby gate

Note: a larger puppy safe area is better than crating in daytime. Firstly, too much crating inhibits muscle development. Secondly, your puppy could have an accident inside the crate while you are gone. You want to be able to use the crate as a housebreaking training aid. That will only work if you are right there to take the puppy out when needed. No puppy wants to potty where its sleeping, but they will do it (and get in the habit) if given no other choice.


Crates are wonderful for nightime potty training and for car traveling (use xpens/baby gates for confinement during the day). Put the puppy crate right next to your bed at night; dangle your fingers through bars for comfort, wake up if puppy needs to go potty. Crating during car travel can also help keep your puppy from getting carsick and keep it safe as well as contain any accidents without ruining your uphostery. Airline style PLASTIC CRATES, also called varikennels, are secure and enclosed in style; some puppies like a dark, cozy den. 200-300 is puppy size, 400 fits many adults, 500 for bigger adults.

Airline style crate, size 300

Midwest side-door wire crate

Many puppies prefer WIRE CRATES because they can see out better. I use a Kennelaire folding crate (size 20W x 24H x 30L) for pottytraining my own puppies, placed next to my bed at night. For traveling, my female Belgians usually ride in a Midwest side-door folding crate (36L). My males ride in the next size up (42L). A rubber backed bathroom mat keeps mat and dog from sliding. Add a comfy mat and a hanging water bucket, with a smooth style handle for travel safety.

Safer smooth style bucket (L) as compared to the old style bucket (R)


Stainless steel food and water bowls; please note that many Belgians are allergic to plastic, resulting in loss of pigment in the lips which then turn pink. Raised water bowls are fine, but studies have shown that raised food bowls actually increase the risk of bloat.

TOYS, CHEWS & TREATS  Although rawhide has its dangers, I do sometimes give it to teething puppies at Montage, but only with great care, always removing a chew before it becomes small enough to swallow whole. I prefer to use bully sticks rather than rawhide as they are easily digested and do not seem to get stuck in the dog. If you do use white or pressed rawhide, make sure the brand is made in the USA! Countries like China and Argentina do not process the animal hides thoroughly, leaving residues of lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, insecticides, formaldehyde. Gummabones are good for chewing but avoid the dental kind because sharp chunk can break off. Rope tug toys - puppies love them and they are great except be careful about rope strands coming loose as they can be pulled out and swallowed. Canvas retrieve toys, cow udder tug toys, all good. Fleece toys - watch out for squeekers when unstuffed and bells and glass eyes. Rubber Kongs with openings for peanut butter and cookies - essential for separation anxiety prevention
Dangerous toys and chews include cow hooves, plaque attackers and other "dental chews" which can splinter and end up slicing intestines. Raw bones can also be quite dangerous because of pieces splintering off, teeth breaking, or even salmonella if left out too long. I sometimes give beef knuckle bones for teeth cleaning purposes as they do not splinter off. Keep in freezer to stay moist in between chewing.
Please note that opinions on what is safe can be quite varied in the dog world. Discuss with your vet, understand the risks involved - blockage from softened rawhide pieces, tooth injury from hard bones, etc. Take into account your puppy's need to chew, use your own brain to decide what is best for you and your puppy, and go on from there.

I keep a large supply and variety of Puppy Treats on hand for training and a reinforcement rich environment. My personal favorites include Wellness Just for Puppy Treats and Blue Bits (soft, chewy, small),Charlie Bears (small, crunchy bite sized), Goldfish (the human treats), and string cheese. I also make my own treats and there are great recipes for this purpose on the web. Do watch out for preservatives and color dies in store bought treats. Many brands from China, especially jerky treats, have plastic and chemicals in them. Also, I recommend avoiding pigs ears as they frequently carry salmonella.

Pet roller hair removal device for clothing
Grannicks Bitter Apple or Phooey spray and furniture cream
Club Soda is a great non-toxic carpet cleaner - it works! Nature's Miracle has several good products. Be very careful not to use regular carpet cleaners and/or to sprinkle on powder type carpet deoderizers; Belgians can be highly allergic to these substances and some of them are quite toxic to all animals bulding up slowly in the body cumulatively, leading to eventual health problems.

Pet stores such as Petco/Petsmart (but watch out for their chew brands!) online stores such as Mighty Mite, Fosters & Smith, SitStay, and Cleanrun. Planet Blue Dog - has the best bully sticks in my opinion - made in the USA from grass-fed bulls, non smelly and long lasting.


A note about dog training. You can certainly force a dog to do things your way but that's not my idea of puppy training. What I strive for is joyful obedience, which cannot be achieved through dominance. All of the training books, DVDs, and online programs I recommend are based on this principle.

I rely on two comprehensive, positive motivational training programs for my own dogs. These are complimentary to each other and go far beyond the basics to help you learn how to train superstar dogs that can go anywhere and do anything!
AbsoluteAcademy with Tom Mitchell & Lauren Langman
PuppyPeaks and H360 with Susan Garrett

Both of the following online training schools have excellent, stand alone courses geared toward dog sports of all kinds.
Fenzi Dog Sports Academy
Agility University

A Guide to Raising Your Pup 2 Perfection, by Lauren Langman
Crate Games, by Susan Garrett
A "must have" for teaching your puppy impulse control and foundation behaviors in preparing for performance sports.

The Breeder's Guide to Raising Superstar Dogs, by Jerry Hope
This is how we raise litters at Montage. Behavioral conditioning begins at day one!
Another Piece of the Puzzle: Puppy Development, by Pat Hastings & Erin Ann Rouse
A helpful overview of puppy developmental stages plus some good articles on raising puppies.
Control Unleashed: The Puppy Program, by Leslie McDevitt
Avoid future behavioral issues and prepare for performance activities by teaching your puppy self control and other foundation behaviors.
I'll Be Home Soon! How to Prevent and Treat Separation Anxiety, by Patricia McConnell
A helpful, inexpensive booklet full of good ideas for keeping your puppy happy while you are gone.


Control Unleashed, by Leslie McDevitt
A book to help reactive, out of control dogs with behavioral issues, and dogs lacking focus and confidence. The power of premack can be yours.
Naughty But Nice (DVD), by Tom Mitchell & Lauren Langman
Distracted, reactive, worried, stressed, barking, lunging - change your naughty dog into nice, learning practical solutions for real life situations, relationship building with positive methods that are fun and non-stressful.
Reactivity: A Program for Rehabilitation (DVD), by Emily Larlham
Techniques for training dogs that are easily over-aroused,stressed or fearful. From how to train loose-leash walking, to dealing with lunging and barking. Easy methods for beginners tofollow.
Sitstay's Getting Started Clicking Package
A beginner's package that includes The How of Bow Wow, Getting Started Clicker Training, plus clickers and treats.
Click to Win, by Karen Pryor
Prepare your puppy for the show ring using clicker techniques.
Please Don't Shoot the Dog, by Karen Pryor
A really fun read about the positive motivational revolution, with insights into both animal and human behavior.
Click to Calm, by Emma Parsons
Positive motivational techniques used successfully for aggression issues also work great for teenage dogs who behave aggressively from over-excitement.

Clean Run has some great books and videos
Dogwise has a large selection of dog books
SitStay has dog books and clicker training packages
Clicker Training Website has clicker books, videos, and clickers

Go to Puppy Notes Page 2

Return to the Puppies Page

Kathy Madden
Montage Tervuren
New York, NY USA