Housebreaking Tips

Housebreaking Tips

Confinement/Supervision:  Your puppy must be supervised constantly. Whenever this is not possible the pup should be confined to a crate or X-pen. The idea is to eliminate the opportunity for the pup to relieve themselves in the house. The crate can be the Vari-Kennel variety or a metal cage.   The x-pen should be adjustable. The idea behind crate training is that a dog will not eliminate in an area they view as their den. Therefore the crate or x-pen only needs to be large enough that the dog can turn around comfortably and lie down. If you purchase a crate that will accommodate your puppy when the pup is full grown, you will need to block off the pups access to part of it. X-pens should be adjustable as well.  Otherwise your puppy will be able to use half of the crate for a bed and the remaining half for a toilet area.  Don’t feel guilty about placing your puppy in a crate, think of it as a play-pen. When no one is available to supervise the puppy, put them in the crate. A pup that doesn’t get housebroken becomes a dog that is no longer allowed in the house. Take the time to help your pup make a positive association with the crate. Store their toys inside, try feeding the puppy inside, or occasionally place a treat inside for the pup to discover. It is also important to locate the crate in an area of the house that is frequented by the family. Don’t make your puppy feel isolated in the corner of the basement. Whatever you do, do not open the door and release the pup if and when they are carrying on barking or whining.  Crate or x-pen training your puppy will make them stress less if ill the need for confinement arises later on in life.  Your veterinarian may need to confine your puppy to a small kennel for recovery from surgery (spaying or neutering are common) or for treatment if ill or injured.  If your pup is crate trained they are less likely to have additional complications or exacerbate their illness or injury and they will recover much easier.  It will also make them stress less at the groomer or boarding facility if you ever have a need for this.

At times you may be some what distracted, such as when reading the newspaper or watching television and you don’t want to crate the pup, In this case, attach a leash to their collar and tie the other end to you. This way the puppy still has some freedom, but is unable to slip around the corner to have accidents. If you find that your puppy is soiling in the crate regularly contact professional help immediately. This behavior is easiest to modify if it is caught early enough in the puppies training program and kept consistent.

Feeding:  A higher quality dog food is well worth the money. Higher quality foods have a fixed formulation and are more digestible. Therefore you don’t need to feed as much and your cost per day is comparable. Also there is less chance of diarrhea and there will be less stool volume to clean up. All feedings should be timed. This means that the food should remain available to the puppy for 15 -20 minutes and then removed and not offered again until the next meal time. If your pup is used to free feeding, they may not eat well at first. Don’t worry; the pup will become accustomed to the schedule in a few days. Timed feedings help you to recognize your dogs feeding habits, as well as aid in housebreaking. So be sure and monitor closely.  If your puppy is allowed to nibble all day, the digestive system is constantly being stimulated requiring the need to relieve themselves more frequently. Limit the size and quantity of treats also. Water should be available to the pup more often throughout the day. However, it is fine to remove the water about 2 hours before bedtime.  While puppies will urinate immediately upon waking, remember your puppy will need approximately 20-30 minutes of activity after eating or sleeping to defecate.  Do not cut short their outdoor time because of your schedule.

Feed your puppy three times a day with the last feeding being no later than 6 pm.  This will help adjust their system to potty before bedtime and then they will not be getting you up during the middle of the night.  Make sure that just before you retire for the night your puppy gets the opportunity to go outside to relieve themselves for about 20-25 minutesDo not just put them to bed without some activity.

Outside:  Initially, always accompany the puppy outside. Please don’t just let the pup go out while you wait at the door. You must be there to praise the dog for the appropriate action and this praise must happen as soon as your pup finishes relieving herself. Place the pup on a leash and take them to the same area of the yard each time. It is very useful to use a key word to train the puppy to go on command. For example you might say; “Go potty” or ”Hurry up”. Initially say the command just as the dog begins to eliminate. Make sure you praise your puppy after they finish their job. Then you can reward them with some off leash time in the yard or a game of fetch. If the puppy does not relieve themselves, put them back in their crate for about 20 – 30 minutes and then  try again. Repeat the cycle as necessary until there is success. The important thing is that the puppy realizes they are there to do a job before they are rewarded with free play.  Puppies indicate their need to relive themselves in a variety of ways. These include: sniffing, whining, circling, barking and wiggling. As your puppy begins to  understand what you expect of them, your pup will develop signals to let you know their need. Some dogs will bark to go outside, some may go to the door, others may simply come and stare at you (perhaps some telepathic communication?!). What ever it is, you must learn to read your dog’s signals. Many people find it helpful to teach the puppy to ring a bell to go outside. This is quit easy to do. Hang a bell with a ribbon or string from your doorknob. Make sure it is at a level that your pup can reach. Now each time you take the puppy outside, take their paw and ring the bell, open the door immediately after ringing the bell. Many puppies catch on to this routine in a matter of days. A word of caution though, some dogs will ring the bell frequently because they just want to go out and play. Make sure they relieve themselves first before any free play is allowed.

Accidents:  Accidents must be cleaned up with a product designed to eliminate the odor. Puppies will return to previous potty spots because they are attracted by the smell. A dog’s sense of smell is many, many times more sensitive than our own; therefore household products such as vinegar or Lysol are not sufficient in removing the odor. There are a variety of products available for cleaning up accidents. Outright, Simple Solution and Nature¹s Miracle are good products. Do not use any product containing ammonia. After appropriately cleaning the spot and it is completely dry, it is important to play with the puppy in that area to help re-establish their own scent there. If the puppy is frequenting a particular location, create a barrier to limit access to the location

Discipline:  During the first few days of training, never discipline your puppy for an accident, after the fact. Accidents during this time happen because you were not supervising well enough.  If you don’t catch them in the act simply clean up the mess and vow to do a better job of supervising. However, if you do catch them in the act, make a startling noise such as a hand clap or slap on the furniture, use a sense of urgency in your voice ”OFF, OFF, OFF, OUTSIDE!” This should temporarily stop the flow, allowing you to scoop the pup up and get them outside. The first day or two the puppy may not stop with the startling sound, in fact you may get messed on! Don’t be discouraged, in a few days it will work. Remember to use your key word to encourage the pup to relieve his or her self. Then when they finish, lavish them with praise for eliminating outside. The comparison must be clear to the puppy. It is right to go outside, but wrong to go inside. However it is imperative that you be monitoring well enough to make this clear to the puppy.  After the initial stages of training and after the pup understands where he/she should potty then you may verbally “scold” them after the fact for any accidents.  A simple, pointing at the spot and saying “bad puppy, Outside, outside, then the potty command” is sufficient.

The most important thing that you can do as the owner of a new puppy is:

SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE

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