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Housetraining Your Puppy

sn_1If you’ve just become the owner of a brand new pup, the first item on your agenda is, no doubt, house training. Pups need to eliminate as many as as six times a day, and the sooner you begin the house training process, the less damage your carpets and furnishings will suffer! Take heart, though. House training a puppy is easier than house training an adult dog.

Prepare to invest some amount of time and effort into house training your puppy. If you can’t spare time for house training, you should seriously reconsider your decision to get a dog. House training will require conditioning techniques, and will call for some effort on your part. If your pup grows into adulthood without being trained, you’re relegating him to a life chained in your backyard, which is unfair to the dog.

The best training tool to begin the house training process is a crate. Get your dog a small wire mesh crate that is the perfect size for your little pet. Make sure that the crate is big enough to accommodate increases in size over the next few weeks, and small enough that he doesn’t find a small corner of the crate to relieve himself in.

Initially, keep your dog in the crate for short periods of time, taking him out to the yard at regular intervals to get him to eliminate. If he does, lavish him with praise and giver him a reward. if he doesn’t, take him back to the crate. Continue with this till you can see a pattern emerging. Over a period of days, your dog’s toilet schedule will become clear. Being confined to the crate will help your dog learn to retain his urine and feces for longer periods of time.

Don’t keep him confined for too long, however. If he relieves himself in the crate, it might set your training back by a few weeks. This is the part where you will need to invest time in – removing him from his crate at regular intervals, and taking him to the yard.

Always remember to reward any elimination. Don’t punish any accident, however. All dogs have accidents along the way, and swatting his head with a newspaper or rubbing his nose in his own mess only makes your dog frightened to eliminate in your presence, which brings you back to square one, as far as potty training is concerned.

When there is an accident, clean it up, and make a note of the time. Have a toilet schedule in which you can write down the times in the days during which your dog urinated or defecated, so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.

Expect house training to continue over a period of time. This can be one of the hardest things to teach a dog, and a little patience and perseverance will go a long way.

Continue house training even at night. Your puppy has a smaller bladder and bowels, and will need to eliminate more often than an adult dog. Make a midnight potty run with your dog to establish elimination habits at night.

When there are accidents, show your disapproval immediately. Dogs don’t have long term memory when it comes to their daily routine. When they eliminate inside the house, they forget what they have done almost immediately. So, if you find a mess in the house, and go looking for him to reproach him 10 minutes after he’s actually done the deed, all angry at him and flustered, he has no idea what you’re mad about because he just does not remember. Your dog doesn’t have accidents to annoy you – on the contrary, dogs exist to make their owners happy. As an owner, its your responsibility to train your dog to behave the way you want him to. He’ll be more than happy to oblige, if you just teach him right.

Another disadvantage of showing disapproval late is you risk establishing whatever behavior he was engaged in at that exact moment as undesirable. If he was drinking water from his bowl, and you barge in angry at his accident, he connects your disapproval to his drinking water. So, now he’s completely clueless about what you want!

When your dog is out of the crate, watch out for tell tale signs of potty time. A dog who needs to urinate will walk round and round in circles, sniffing. When he exhibits this kind of behavior, stop whatever you’re doing and take him outside.

Accidents will certainly happen. The only time it is acceptable to shout is if you catch the puppy in the act of sniffing in a corner, or beginning to circle as if to squat, or actually squatting. You shout “NO”, and then immediately run to him and pick him up and take him outside where he should be eliminating. Remember more praise when he does go outside.

If you can’t catch your dog in time and find the accident later, do not drag your dog back to the spot and rub his nose in it. He has no memory of doing it and dragging him back will only scare him.

You’ll want to eliminate the odor immediately If your puppy can smell the spot he will be drawn to it again. Secondly, try to figure out what you did wrong. Was he just fed? Get up from a nap? Playtime? Understanding what your puppy was doing before he went will help you plan for the next time.

If you keep you puppy in a crate at night, first thing in the morning, before you take care of any of your own needs, go to the carrier, and take your puppy outside. Stand with him as he eliminates, and praise him. After he eats, pick up the bowl, and take him back outside and see if he has to go again. Don’t forget to keep the praise up. After he is done, plan on around 15 minutes of good exercise outside.

If you stay at home, try to pay attention to your dogs activities. If you are at work, try to get someone like a friend to do this midday feeding and elimination schedule. Mid afternoon, another bathroom and exercise break. Dinner should be around 5-6 PM, so that the pup has several hours in which to empty himself out before bedtime. Take him out just before you go to bed. Lastly, put him in the crate for the night. You can also try paper training.

You will know things are going well when your puppy begins to ask to go outside. Pay attention to your dog. If you ignore him, or don’t understand what he is trying to tell you, he will continue to have accidents even though he knows where he should be going. This signal usually starts to be given after 1-2 weeks of consistent housetraining techniques. Once he is regularly asking to go outside, you don’t have to accompany him each time.

You can consider your pup to be housetrained if he goes 4-8 weeks without any accidents in the house. Then, you have the option of leaving food down all the time, and letting him free-feed, and also of not using the carrier, and letting him sleep wherever your would like him to.

If you’re having a hard time with your housetraining or simply want some more advice, consider one of the best and very easy to use books on the subject, Housetraining for Dummies. This book, by Susan McCullough has helped thousands of puppy owners house break their dog.