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House Training Your Puppy by Niki Elliot

Puppies are instinctively clean animals and have a natural instinct to “pee & poop” away from their den or sleeping place. Puppies also naturally develop habits of where they would like to eliminate. For example, pups that have a habit of eliminating on grass or dirt would rather not eliminate on concrete or gravel. You can use these natural tendencies for rapid and successful house training.

  1. Establish the Living Area
    Establish your pup’s living area (we will call it ’den’ from here out) in a small confined space such as a bathroom, part of the kitchen or garage. Please note that a den is not a crate. Read about crate training for more information on this. Try to spend as much time as possible with your pup in her den. It is important to play with her in this area as well as let her eat and sleep here. Give your pup a special bed; this can be anything from an open crate to a large cardboard box to a beach towel. In the beginning, she may eliminate in here but once she realizes that this is her special den, she will try to avoid soiling it. Once your pup gets used to sleeping on her very own bed, you can move it around your house from room to room, wherever you go. Confine your pup to her bed whenever you are somewhere other than her den. If her bed is a crate, simply close the door. If her bed is a towel or blanket, place it next to a piece of furniture and leash your pup so she can’t get out of her bed. You should never leave your pup unattended while leashed, so leash your pup to yourself! Tie one end of the leash around your waist or belt loop. Now your pup can accompany you around the house and you can monitor her behaviour.
  2. Establish the Toilet Area
    Every time your pup needs to eliminate be sure she has access to the place where you want her to go. Until she develops a strong habit of eliminating there, it is important that you accompany her every time. If she eliminates somewhere else, then she’ll be establishing a habit of eliminating there. To make it easier on your and your pup, you should put your pup on a regular feeding schedule. What goes in on a regular schedule comes out on a regular schedule. If you know when your pup needs to empty out, then you’ll know when to take her to her toilet area. Do not confine your pup without access to her toilet area for too long. Many puppies at 4 weeks can hold their urine for up to 2 hours. However for young pups, it is advisable, after 45 minutes to an hour, take her to her toilet area again. The general rule is to take the age of the pup in months and add one to get the # of hours she might be able to hold off urinating. These times are always dependant in the amount & time of drinking liquid. You still need to be vigilant especially after meals, after playing or exercise, when puppy has just woken up, just after eating or after taking her out of her crate or den. If she can’t hold it, she will be forced to soil herself, her bed or her den and then it may become a habit and will take much longer to housetrain her.

Once your puppy consistently eliminates in her toilet area and stops soiling her den, then you can start extending her den to the rest of your house. Begin by giving her access to one room at a time, but only when you know without a doubt that her bladder and bowels are completely empty. Let her eat, sleep and play in this room but only when she can be supervised. When you cannot supervise her, either confine her to her bed in that room, or put her back in her den. Once she accepts this room as an extension of her den, then go on to the next room. One way to speed up the process is to click and reward your puppy each and every time she eliminates in her toilet area. Since your aim is to praise puppy for being successful, it is important that you give her the chance to earn her reward by anticipating her need to go outside. It is equally as important NOT to reprimand your puppy for accidents and mistakes. Reprimand usually confuses the pup and slows down the house training process. DO NOT RUB HER NOSE IN HER PUDDLES OR MESSES.

Rather hit yourself over the head with a rolled up newspaper and say to yourself “I should have been more vigilant!!! Make sure you clean up and remove the odour from the soiled area. Do not use ammonia based cleaning materials as this attracts rather than deters!

  • If your puppy continues to soil her den, either you have left her there too long or the den may be too large an area for her. Take her to her toilet area more frequently or establish her den in an even smaller area.
  • If she soils her bed, then you probably confined her there too long and she couldn’t help herself; or she doesn’t understand yet that this is her bed. Urinary tract problems and medical conditions can also cause your dog to soil her bed while she is sleeping.
  • If the den is not properly introduced, your puppy may feel as if it is a prison and show signs of anxiety, barking, whining etc. Make sure your puppy enjoys being in her den. Give her lots of chew toys stuffed with goodies, which stay in her den.
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