House Training 101 Print E-mail

House Training 101


Rule Number One:

This is The Most Important Rule - If you don't catch your puppy doing it - then don't punish him for it!

Rule Number Two:

Praise your puppy when things go right. Don't let this be a situation where your only action is saying "No".  If they do it right - let them know!

Methods of house training:

1.Inside (Papers or Pads):

Starting Inside:  you can put down papers or pretreated pads, encouraging them to use these areas for going to the bathroom. The pads are scented with a chemical that attracts the puppy to use them. Whenever you see them starting into their "pre-potty pattern," such as walking around and sniffing the floor, you gently pick them up without talking and carry them over to the papers/pad and then praise them when they go to the bathroom (Rule 2).

When all goes well and they are using the papers consistently, the papers are either moved closer to the door and/or another set is placed outside. The transition is made from concentrating the toilet habits to one spot inside the home to one spot outside the home. Finally, the papers inside are eliminated. The only problem with this method is that for a period of time it encourages the animal to eliminate inside the home. In our experience, house training may take longer when this method is used.

2.Crate Training:

The second popular method of house training involves the use of a crate or cage. The animal is placed in a cage that is just large enough to be a bed. Dogs do not like to soil their beds because they would be forced to lay in the mess. It works, and while in these confines, most pups will control their bladder and bowels for a longer time than we would expect. Young puppies, at 8 or 9 weeks of age can often last for 7 or 8 hours, however, we would never recommend leaving them unattended in a crate for that long in most circumstances.

During housebreaking, whenever the puppy is inside the home but cannot be watched, he is placed in the crate. This might be while you are cooking, reading to the children, or even away from the home. The last thing you do before you put the puppy in the crate is take him outside to his favorite spot. The first thing you do when you take the animal out of the crate is another trip outside. No food or water goes in the crate, just a blanket and maybe a chew toy to occupy his time. Overnight is definitely crate time. As your faith in the puppy grows, leave him out for longer and longer periods of time.

Most people do not recognize an important advantage of crate training. It does more than just stop the animal from messing in the house. The puppy learns that when the urge to urinate or defecate occurs, he can hold it.  This is thought to be the main reason why puppies that have gone through crate training have fewer mistakes later on.

Crates are useful throughout a dog's life and it would be nice if you did not have to keep buying more as he grows. That is not necessary. Simply purchase a cage that will be big enough for him as an adult, but choose a model that  has a divider panel .  You can adjust the position of the panel so that the space inside the cage available to the pet can grow as he does.

Using too large of a crate can often cause long term problems. The puppy will go to one corner of the cage and urinate or defecate. After a while, he will then run through it tracking it all over the cage. If this is allowed to continue, the instincts about not soiling his bed or lying in the mess will be forgotten and the puppy will soon be doing it every day when placed in the crate. Now a house training method has turned into a behavioral problem as the puppy's newly-formed hygienic habits becomes his way of life.

3.Constant Supervision:

The last method involves no papers, pads, or crates. Rather, you chose to spend all the time necessary with the puppy. This works very well for people who live and work in their homes, retired persons, or in situations where the owners are always with the animal. Whenever they see the puppy doing his "pre-potty pattern" they hustle him outside. It is important that the dog is watched at all times and that no mistakes are allowed to occur. This method has less room for error, as there is nothing like a cage to restrict the animal's urges, nor is there a place for him to relieve himself such as on the papers or pad. When he is taken outside, watch the puppy closely and as soon as all goes as planned, he should be praised and then brought back inside immediately. You want the dog to understand that the purpose for going outside was to go to the bathroom. Do not start playing, make it a trip for a reason. Verbal communications help this method and we will discuss them soon. For those with the time, this is a good method. We still recommend having a crate available as a backup when the owners have to be away from the animal.

Verbal cues

Specific verbal communications will also help the two of you understand what is desired. It is an excellent idea to always use a word when it is time to head to the bathroom. We like "Outside?" Remember that whenever you use a verbal command or signal, it is important that everybody in the family always uses the same word in the same way. Think of the word "Outside" in this situation not only as a question you are asking the pup, but also as an indication that you want to go there. Some dogs may get into the habit of going to the door when they want to go outside. This is great when it happens but it is not as common as some believe. We have found that it is better to use verbal commands to initiate this sort of activity rather than waiting for the puppy to learn this behavior on his own. It seems like your consistent use of a word or phrase like "Outside" will cause the puppy to come to you rather than the door when he needs to go outside.

Once outside, we try to encourage the pup to get on with the act in question. We use the phrase "Do your numbers." . Others use 'Do It,' 'Potty,' or 'Hurry Up.' As soon as they eliminate, it is very important to praise them with a "Good Dog" and then come back inside immediately. Again, make this trip that started outside with a specific word "Outside" be for a purpose. If we are taking the pup out to play with a ball or go for a walk we will not use this word even if we know they will eliminate while we are outside.

When an 'accident' happens

If you do not catch your puppy doing it, then do not punish him for it! We do not care what someone else may tell you or what you read, if you find a mess that was left when you were not there, clean it up and forget it.

Discipline will not help because unless you catch the puppy in the act, he will have no idea what the scolding is for.they are not thinking about what they did in the past Your puppy has urinated and defecated hundreds of times before he met you. Puppies are just like our children. Unless something was really fun (and a repetitious act like going to the bathroom is not), . They are thinking about what they can do in the future. At this point in his life a puppy's memory is very, very poor.

Anyway, let us face it. It was your fault, not the pup's. If you had been watching, you would have noticed the puppy suddenly walking or running around in circles with his nose down smelling for the perfect spot to go to the bathroom. It may vary a little from pup to pup but they always show their own "pre-potty pattern" before the act.

The same should be said as to your first reaction when you actually catch them in the act of urinating or defecating. It is your fault, you were not watching for or paying attention to the signals. Do not get mad. Quickly, but calmly pick them up and without raising your voice sternly say "No." Carry them outside or to their papers. It will help to push their tail down while you are carrying them as this will often help them to stop urinating or defecating any more.

They are going to be excited when you get them outside or to the papers, but stay there with them a while and if they finish the job, reward them with simple praise like "Good Dog." followed by a treat.

If you want house training to go quickly, regardless of the method you use, spend as much time as possible with your puppy.

Feeding and house training

The feeding schedule you use can help or hinder housebreaking. You will soon notice that puppies will need to go outside soon after they wake and also within 30 to 40 minutes after eating. Be consistent when you feed the animal so you can predict when they need to relieve themselves. Plan your trips outside around these patterns.

All of this may seem simple, and it really is. The keys are that it will take time and you must be consistent. And, of course, you must never lose your temper or even get excited.

Spontaneous or submissive urination

Puppies may spontaneously urinate when excited. This may be when they first see you, at meeting a new dog, or when they are scared. It is often referred to as submissive or excitement urination. Do not discipline the puppy for this, as it is something they cannot control. Simply ignore it and clean up the mess. If you do not overreact, they will usually outgrow this between 4 and 7 months of age.