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House Training

House Training

Young puppies do not have effective control over their elimination. When an eight-week-old puppy has to go, it really has to go! This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t start housetraining a small puppy. You should begin as soon as the puppy moves in. You should realize that at this point the training is more a matter of management than education. In other words, the attempts at training a puppy where to go may eliminate some messes from a house, but in reality your puppy is just starting to learn what to do so be patient. While a puppy is young, any mistakes can be laid directly at the feet of the owner. As the pup matures, it can assume some of the blame, but young puppies can’t be blamed for doing what comes naturally.  It’s all up to you!  


The single most essential aspect of housetraining is to keep the pup under observation.  Puppies that are carefully watched by their owners won’t get into the habit of chewing up shoes or electrical cords, eating goodies from the cat litter box, or leaving little surprises behind couches.  When anyone brings a new puppy home, that person should plan to use vacation, summer break, or any other available leave to spend as much time as possible with the puppy.  This is why we recommend bringing your puppy home on the first day of your weekend off. When a puppy is left home alone, the only training it gets is accidental and probably unacceptable. Anyone who is unwilling to devote quality time off to a new puppy probably shouldn’t have a puppy to begin with.  Just being in the house with a new puppy isn’t enough.  You must be aware of what the puppy is doing. One technique recommended by some puppy trainers is the umbilical cord method, or tethering. The owner attaches one end of a leash to the puppy and the other end to his or her belt or wrist. In this way, the puppy is always no more than the length of the leash away from you the owner- but he/she is learning to follow the leash and interact with you the owner.

The use of the umbilical cord method is a controversial issue. Some experts agree with this method; others believe it’s not an appropriate method to use. Even those who support its use disagree on how long the leash should be and how long the puppy should be tethered to its owner each day. Having the puppy attached to the owner is only the first step. Keeping the puppy close won’t make any difference if the owner is reading a newspaper or watching TV. You must be aware of what the puppy is doing. With practice, you can learn to watch out of the corner of your eye and still look at the TV or read a book.  It takes a little concentration to start out but will come with ease as time progresses. Now that you and the puppy are attached to each other, you must know what to watch for. You must constantly be alert to any behavior that indicates the puppy may need to eliminate.

Do not send the puppy out alone. You and the puppy must go out together-you must be armed with a treat or two and take him/her to the designated potty area. Once you are at the potty area you should give the command for the dog to eliminate then wait to see how your puppy reacts. If the puppy sits or lies down, you should walk around to get the pup up and moving so the urge to eliminate comes. In reality you should basically be a quiet observer until the puppy performs. When the puppy eliminates, you should praise your puppy as if he/she had just made an amazing discovery.  Learning how to eliminate outdoors is an important part of etiquette and it deserves high praise. Many dogs in shelters are there because of housetraining failures, so it is essential for the puppy to learn this lesson well. In conjunction with praise, you may also give the pup a treat. Unless it is pouring rain or the temperature is too frigid, playing outside for a minute or two is an excellent idea.


Young puppies must eliminate often.  Crucial times for going out are

· when they wake up in the morning

· after a nap,

· after they eat one of their meals,

· after they take a drink of water,

· after they’ve had a lively play session.

At other times, a pup should be taken out at least every two hours, even if none of these things have occurred.

Another element of timing is a puppy’s feeding schedule. A regular schedule helps to put bowel movements on an equally regular schedule so the owner knows when to expect them. The dog appreciates a routine and likes to know when its next meal is coming.  Some trainers recommend withholding water in the evening so puppies can’t “tank up” before bedtime. Most veterinarians frown on this idea. You should always make fresh drinking water available for the continued good health of the dog. Then you must decide either to get up during the night for a potty break or to arrange the puppy’s nighttime quarters to allow for some unavoidable piddling. Getting up and taking a puppy out in the middle of the night doesn’t rank high on anyone’s list, but doing so can speed up the housetraining process. Most people can learn to take their dog out without becoming completely awake which makes going back to sleep quick once they return to bed.

During the day, puppies may have to eliminate every hour to hour and a half; at night, one trip halfway through the night is often enough to keep everything dry. Think about it – most people sleep through the night but visit the bathroom more often than once every eight hours during the day. The same is true for puppies. Owners who choose not to get up during the night must provide an acceptable indoor potty. One option is to separate the puppy’s crate into two separate areas – one for sleeping and one for eliminating.  When a crate is purchased, its size should be based on the size the dog will be when it’s fully grown. Therefore, the crate will be a little large when the dog is still a puppy, and the pup will have room in the crate for both a sleeping area and a potty area. During the day, the owner should block off the potty area in the crate so the puppy doesn’t learn to soil in its crate. If a puppy uses the potty area in the cage at night, the owner should clean it up first thing in the morning and say nothing to the puppy. As the puppy gets older and in better control of bodily functions, the nighttime elimination should disappear on its own.

Creating a potty area in a crate isn’t the recommended method of training a puppy. It is just an alternative for those owners who choose not to take their puppies out during the night. Ideally, a puppy shouldn’t eliminate in its crate.

Another part of timing involves deciding how long to stay outside after the puppy has eliminated. If you go back inside as soon as the puppy has finished, you may unwittingly be creating a monster. Some pups really enjoy these outdoor excursions, especially if it’s the only time they get outside. They soon learn to postpone eliminating so they can prolong their outdoor time.  People can avoid this problem by staying out for some play time after the pup has eliminated. Then the puppy doesn’t associate elimination with the end of the trip outdoors. If you have already unwittingly created this problem, you’ll need to do a bit of retraining. Take your pup outdoors for no other reason than to play. Doing this should reduce their pup’s incentive to extend potty trips. In addition, you should put a time limit on potty trips. If the pup doesn’t perform in a reasonable time, say, five minutes, then the you should take the pup back inside and closely observe it or put it in its crate for fifteen minutes before going out again. This retraining procedure is not a punishment.  It’s simply making an adjustment in the puppy’s understanding. Don’t reward a puppy by staying outside when it hasn’t urinated. Please remember a pup does not have the control to be truly reliable until it is four or five months old. If a puppy is no longer having accidents indoors, it may be the result of you having good observation and management. Don’t stop training too soon or you may be unpleasantly surprised.

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