Join Katya's Newsletter Instagram Twitter Facebook Youtube Snapchat

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.

Making the Vet a Dog’s Best Friend

OK, it might be a bit much to expect a dog to become seriously fond of the  the guy who prods him for no apparent reason, and inserts foreign objects into his genitalia.  While you can’t change the unpleasant nature of your vet’s job, you can try to make sure your dog has as pleasant an experience as is possible when he goes to the vet’s office.

Choose the Right Vet

Your vet is going to be the second most important person in your dog’s life, after you.  He’s not just the guy who prescribes medication when your dog falls ill, but also helps prevent diseases by examining your dog, and catching an infection before its too late.  Make sure you’re comfortable with his vet.

When looking around for a vet, check his clinic and waiting rooms. Do they look clean and airy?  Does the waiting room have separate areas for dogs and cats, or will your dog be sharing space with an entire posse of screeching cats? What about the staff?  Are there enough vets and vet assistants, and do they seem professional and experienced?  Does the clinic specialize in many different veterinary medicine fields, or offer just basic veterinary services?  Do they have a diagnostic lab on site, to collect and examine stool and blood samples? Do they offer emergency services?

Taking Your Pup to the Vet

If your puppy is still just a few weeks old, you have either taken him to a vet for his first physical, or are planing on doing so.  Keep these things in mind to have a pleasant vet visit.

Help your new puppy socialize with other people.  This doesn’t mean only members of your family, but also your neighbors, friends etc.  A puppy who has very limited exposure to strangers is more likely to feel threatened and nervous in the presence of a vet. 

Practice mock physical examinations in  your home. Lie your dog down, and examine his eyes, mouth, teeth, and paws. Rub his belly, and feel around his abdomen the way a vet does.  Having all these things done in the security and comfort  of home can make a dog feel less threatened when he’s splayed out on the vet’s table and being prodded with steel objects.

Practice having him on a leash. You will likely have to wait for your turn, and there will be other animals there.  If he’s small enough, put him in a crate, and carry him to the vet’s office. 

Take him for a walk, and try to collect a stool sample before you leave for the vet’s office. If it’s a first time visit, your vet will likely need a stool sample, and it saves you the trouble of having to visit again with a fresh sample. 

If your dog still hasn’t been socialized and is aggressive towards others, keep him in the car, and inform the staff that you’ve arrived for your appointment.  You can take him into the office when your turn comes around.

Take him out for short drives regularly, or you risk having him think that you’re off for a vet visit every time he gets in the car. Associating a car with unpleasant experiences is one reason why dogs develop separation anxiety. A dog who’s afraid of cars needs a whole other regimen of training to recondition his behavior.  By taking frequent joy rides, your dog doesn’t become anxious as soon as he gets into the car.

Take along a few treats for your dog to snack on while he’s in the waiting room.  It helps kill off some of the anxiety he may feel. 

Keep a few chewy toys handy, so he can occupy himself.

At the Vet’s Office

Talk to your pet throughout the examination in comforting tones, and reassure him. 

If he needs an overnighter, make sure he has his security blanket or favorite toy to remind of home, and feel comfortable in an unfamiliar surrounding.