on Monday, January 22, 2018
This method of housetraining is focused on preventing “accidents” instead of waiting for the accidents to happen. The goal is to make it easy for the puppy to do the right thing in the first place. Training in this way is faster and more effective than punishing the dog for mistakes. You play the most important part in the success or failure of this method. You must be patient, determined and consistent for it to work. If you already own an adult dog with housetraining problems, you can use this method to start fresh just as you would with a puppy.
This method also requires the use of a dog crate, or at least, a small confined area for the pup to stay in when he can’t be supervised. A crate isn’t cruel! It’s your dog’s own private room where he can rest and stay safe, secure and out of trouble. Just like a small child, your puppy needs to be protected from hurting himself and destroying your furniture. A crate will make the job so much easier!
The first few weeks of owning a puppy or dog are some of the hardest and most important. Spending extra time and effort now will pay off in a big way. Before you start, here are some essential housetraining facts:
- Adult dogs can be housetrained in the same way as puppies.
- Puppies have limited bladder control.
- Dogs and puppies like to be clean and to sleep in a clean area.
- All dogs do best when kept to a routine schedule.
Dogs have to go potty:
- When they wake up in the morning or after a nap.
- Shortly after eating and drinking.
- Before they go to sleep.
- After stressful events.
- After active play (or sometimes during!)
If a dog (and especially a puppy) is not allowed to relieve itself at those times, it will most likely have an accident. Don’t wait for the dog to “tell” you that it has to go out. Just assume that he does and take him outside.
Baby puppies, under 3 months of age, have limited bladder control and reflexes. They usually don’t know they’re going to “go” until the moment they do! It’s not realistic to expect them to tell you ahead of time. If you’re observant, you’ll see that a puppy who’s looking for a place to go potty will suddenly circle about while sniffing the floor. The sniffing is instinct– he’s looking for a place that’s already been used. If he can’t find one, he’ll start one! By preventing accidents in the house, you’ll teach him that they only appropriate bathroom is the one outside.
Ideally, you’re reading this before you’ve brought your new puppy home. If you already have your puppy, just pick up the schedule at an appropriate place.
Set up a dog crate or small confined area (the smaller the better). Using a dog crate will be more effective. The size of the crate is important. If it’s too large, the puppy will have room to use one end as a bathroom. If you’ve bought a crate for him to “grow into”, you can also get dividers to reduce the inner space while he’s small. If he must be left alone while you’re at work, then a larger crate is okay. Put a stack of newspapers at one end for him to use when you can’t be home to let him out.
Also in the crate should be a sleeping pad (if he won’t tear it up) and toys. Put the crate where he isn’t shut away from the family. If you’re using a confined area instead, a baby gate across the doorway is preferable to closing the door and isolating your puppy. Your puppy might not like the crate at first. Don’t give in to his complaining or tantrums! If you’re sure he isn’t hungry or has to go potty, ignore his yowling. Eventually he’ll settle down and sleep which is what crates are for! If you give a tempting treat every time you put the dog in his crate, he’ll soon look forward to going in. He should also get all his meals in the crate, until he will run into it on his own for sleeping and eating.
The crate is intended to be his sleeping and feeding place and is where he should be when you can’t keep a close eye on him. If you’ve allowed him to go potty when he needs to, he won’t dirty his crate if he can help it. Once he’s developed better control, he won’t need the newspapers unless you’re going to be gone all day. Change the papers several times a day if they’ve been soiled.
Puppy’s First Night Home
Get off on the right foot at the beginning! Carry the puppy from your car to the yard. Set him on the grass and let him stay there until he potties. When he does, tell him how wonderful he is! After bringing the pup inside, you can play with him for an hour. Plan on taking the puppy outside every two hours (at least) while he’s awake. Don’t wait for him to tell you that he has to go!
Feed the puppy his supper in his crate. after a meal, carry him outside to potty before you do anything else. Wait for him to have a bowel movement before bringing him back in. Some pups get their jobs done quickly; others may take half an hour. If he’s being slow, walk around the yard encouraging him to follow you. Walking tends to get things moving, so to speak. Start using a word cue, for example, “hurry up”. Be very happy when you have success. You must stay with the puppy outside. Don’t expect to let the puppy out by itself.
Always take the puppy outside the first thing when you let him out of the crate and always CARRY the puppy to the door. This is important. Puppies seem to have a reflex peeing action that takes affect the moment they step out of the crate on to your carpeting. If you let him walk to the door, he’ll probably have an accident before he gets there. Part of the training method is physiological – you want the puppy to feel grass under his feet when he goes to the bathroom, not your carpeting.
After another short play period, take the pup outside before bedtime, and then tuck him into his crate for the night. If he cries during the night, he probably has to go out. Carry him outside to potty, then put him back in the crate with a minimum of cuddling. If you play with him, he might decide he doesn’t want to go back to sleep. Puppies usually sleep through the night within a few days.
Establish a regular schedule of puppy trips and feedings. This helps you control the times he has to go out and prevent accidents in the house. First thing in the morning before you have your coffee, carry the puppy outside. He can then come in and play for an hour in whatever room you are in.
Consider using the umbilical method when the puppy has time in the house. Use a soft buckle collar on the dog or puppy, and leash that connects you to the puppy. Accidents are prevented because you always know where the puppy is.
Feed breakfast in the crate and don’t let him out again for ½ hour. Then carry him back outside to potty. Puppies usually have a bowel movement after each meal so give him time to accomplish it. Now he can have another inside playtime for an hour or so.
Don’t give him free run of the house. Use baby gates or close doors to keep him out of rooms he shouldn’t go in. Puppies are notorious for finding out-of-the-way corners to have accidents in. Keep him in an area where you will watch him. Observation and supervision are the keys to quick housetraining! If you give him too much freedom too soon, he’ll make a mistake.
After playtime, take him outside again then tuck him into his crate for a nap. For the first month or so, you’ll be feeding three to four meals a day. Adult dogs only need two meals a day.
Repeat the same procedure throughout the day: potty outside the first thing in the morning, one hour playtime, potty, meal in crate, potty, playtime, potty, nap, potty, playtime, meal, etc. The playtimes can be lengthened as the puppy gets older and is more reliable. Eventually the puppy will be letting you know when he needs to go out.
Remember: If you ignore his request or don’t move quickly, he will have an accident.
I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is. The results of all this running in and out will pay off in a well-housetrained puppy and clean carpets. Keep in mind that some breeds are easier to housetrain than others and how the puppy was raised before he came to you has an affect too. Pet store puppies that were allowed to use wire-bottom crates have less inclination to keep their crates clean. Puppies that were raised in garages or barns where they could “go” wherever, will also be a little more difficult. Don’t give up though. You can train them. It will just take a little longer.
A Word About Paper Training
By only allowing the pup to relieve itself outside, you’re teaching it that it’s not acceptable to use the house. Using newspapers in the house will override this training. Also, be aware that many puppies get the notion that going potty near the papers is as good as going on them! If you must use newspapers when you’re gone keep to the regular housetraining schedule when you’re at home. Get the puppy outside often enough and don’t leave papers out “just in case.”
Keep your dog’s yard picked up and free of old stools. Many dogs choose an area to use as a bathroom. If left to become filthy, they’ll refuse to use it and do their business in the house instead. If your dog has to be tied up when he’s outside, keeping the area clean is even more critical. If you could only move about in a small area, you wouldn’t want to lie next to the toilet, would you? Picking up stools helps you keep tabs on your dog’s health as well. Stools should be firm and well formed. Loose, sloppy stools can be an indication of worms health problems, stress, or digestive upset.
Housetraining Older Dogs
You can use a modified puppy schedule to train an un-broken dog or one that’s having housetraining problems. Start from the beginning just as you would for a puppy. Use a crate and put him on a schedule.
An older dog can be expected to control itself for longer periods provided you take it outside at critical times – first thing in the morning, after meals and the last thing at night. Until they are reliable, get them outside every 3-4 hours in between those times. Adopted older dogs that have always had freedom may be unwilling to have a bowel movement when on a leash. You can walk them longer, use a long line or a flexi-lead, or keep them confined until they really have to go. Supervision is just as vital as for a puppy. You don’t want your dog to practice making mistakes in your house. You can give them more freedom as they become more reliable.
What To Do If The Puppy Or Dog Has An Accident
Remember that this method of housetraining is based on preventing accidents. By faithfully taking the dog out often enough, you’ll get faster results than if you discipline the puppy after the fact. If your puppy makes a mistake because you didn’t get him out when you should have, it’s not his fault!
If you catch the pup in the act, stay calm. Make a startling noise, like clapping your hands or slapping the wall, just to try to stop the action. Carry him outside to an area he’s already used. As you set him on the ground, tell him “go potty”. Praise him if he finishes the job. Leave him out for a few more minutes to make sure he’s done before bringing him back in. This is a little trickier with an adult dog, especially if he’s new to you and you don’t know how he will react to being grabbed and thrust outside. Grab a leash and take him outside, and make a point of getting him outside more often.
Corrections such as rubbing his nose in it, smacking with newspapers, yelling, hitting or slapping will only confuse and scare the dog. If you come across an “old” accident, it does more harm to try to punish for it. Dogs won’t connect a past act with your present anger. He simply won’t understand what you are so mad about. He’ll act guilty because that is behavior that dogs use to calm other dogs, and he is hoping it will work with you.
Keep in mind that health problems, changes in diet and emotional upsets (moving to a new home, adding a new pet or family member, etc.) can cause temporary lapses in housetraining. Diabetes in adult dogs and urinary tract infections in both dogs and puppies can cause dogs to have to urinate more often. Urinary infections are common in young female puppies. A symptom is frequent squatting with little urine release. If you suspect a physical problem, take your dog for an examination. Sudden changes in dog food brands or overindulgence in treats or table scraps can cause diarrhea. Dogs don’t need much variety in their diets so you’re not harming yours by staying to one brand of food. If you make a change, do it gradually by mixing a little of the new with the old. Gradually increase the amount of new food every day. A sudden change of water can cause digestive upset, too. If you’re moving or traveling, take along a couple gallons of “home” water to mix with the new. Distilled water from the grocery store can also be used.
Cleaning Up Accidents
If you’ve worked hard with this training method, you won’t have many! Put your puppy or adult dog away out of sight while you clean up a puddle. Clean up on a vinyl floor is pretty simple. On carpeting, get lots of paper towels and continue blotting with fresh paper until you’ve lifted as much liquid as possible.
Don’t use a cleaner with ammonia, which will attract the dog or puppy back to the spot. In a pinch, white vinegar diluted half and half with water will do. From your vet or at the pet store, pick a product that will actually neutralize the ammonia, not just cover the smell.
Puppies and dogs are attracted to urine odors and their noses are much better than ours. Even when using a commercial odor killer, a teeny residue will be left behind that our dogs can smell. Keep an eye on that spot in the future.