The most frequently asked questions by new puppy owners are associated with house training. It is important to realize that poor house training may leave your puppy with undesirable behavior problems for life. This will make the companionship with your dog difficult in future.
The most important advice and the real key is to be CONSISTENT with your training rules. It also means that ALL members of the family must be prepared and follow the same guidelines. Another important key is POSITIVE RE-ENFORCEMENT.
This involves praising your puppy with your kind and noticeable voice and some small healthy treats when they show desirable behavior. Puppies need to meet three main needs.
1 – Food (food and treats with excellent nutritional values)
2 – Safe and small enclosure (crate)
3 – Attention and recognition (positive re-enforcement)
These instinctive needs can be utilized appropriately to train your puppy to become your beloved companion for long years to come!
Now, let me introduce to you the “Three – Step Approach” formula through which you can make sure your puppy is getting appropriate house training.
Step 1: The puppy’s “bedroom” (crate)
The crate should provide enough space for your puppy but does not need to be a large one. In fact, puppies tend to feel more comfortable in a smaller comfortable shelter and feel safer in such a crate as compared to a large one. The wire crates are the ones to go with. You should place the crate in the well visited area of your home and this usually is either the den or the kitchen.
The puppy’s food and water should be placed in the crate but in the rear corners and they should have their favorite toys and chews in the crate as well. The idea is to make the crate visit a very positive and rewarding experience for the puppy so they feel free and comfortable to make frequent visits into the crate. NEVER USE THE CRATE AS A PUNISHMENT JAIL!!! Use a different location should you need a discipline corner.
The first few nights are usually slightly difficult. You will have to keep the door of the crate closed and locked overnight, and they will cry for attention, for the first few nights. The best answer to this is just to ignore it as long as you are certain that they have been fed and given the chance to pee and poop. If you answer to their crying with your constant checking and comforting, they will learn to win over you for food and attention etc. with crying.
If you follow the rules, in 3 – 4 nights, they will usually learn that night time is the time to stay quiet and sleep.
Step 2: Teaching a daily schedule (routine)
The daily routine depends directly on the life style of the household. You must design a schedule which works with you and with your puppy’s needs. Please, refer to the following sample routine as an example and try to work around it to make it work for you and your puppy.
Here are a few highlights:
1 – Until your puppy is 5 months of age they should have access to three meal portions daily
2 – An average 8 – week old puppy can hold their pee and poop for a maximum of 4 hours during the day, and 6 – 8 hours at night.
3 – Bathroom, rest, play, eating periods should be kept the same during the day as much as possible to re-enforce the routine.
Step 3: House Training
The bottom line is that your puppy needs to be either in the crate or under your direct supervision to successfully complete the house training course. If you leave them alone, accidents WILL happen in the house. This will be very misleading for your puppy and very frustrating for you!
While in the crate their natural instincts usually prevent them from soiling the crate.
There are three golden opportunities for further toilet training of your puppy, on top of your set schedule.
1 – The urge to go: when your puppy develops the urge to go, they usually look for the appropriate spot to do their business. For this, they will give you some signals, and you should be very attentive to these signals. Whenever you see the signal you must first re-enforce the behaviour by taking the puppy close to the door, and praise verbally and ask “Go Outside?” You should also encourage a bark to teach them a bark will be a sign. Take them to the same spot as before for the pee and poop. Ignore them while keeping them on the leash and wait until they are done. Then give lots of praise immediately and maybe a treat. Remember: business first, then play and explore if allowed!!
2 – Caught in action: If you miss your puppy’s signal (You should not, if they are under your supervision), and realize the unmistakable stance of your puppy getting ready to eliminate, don’t yell at or run to them.
Walk quickly to them grab their scruff, shake them lightly and firmly say “No”! This way you will tell them that it is the inappropriate spot!! Take them outside to the same spot where they use to eliminate, ignore them and wait until they are done, and immediately praise / treat! This wait may take 15 – 20 minutes, be patient! Remember that this is a golden opportunity for you to teach them! Under no circumstance you should yell or hit
the puppy to discipline!!
3 – I missed, sorry!! If there is an accident in the house it means either your puppy was not in the crate, or was unattended and not supervised, which means the puppy is not at fault!!! Do not try to teach or discipline after spoiling has happened. They cannot associate the teaching with the action afterwards. Dogs can only associate direct cause and effect relationship. If not caught in action, then there is a missed opportunity for teaching.
Be patient and spend time for 1-3 weeks with your new puppy’s training, and you will have yourself a well – trained dog for the rest of his/her life!
Sample Daily Routine for an 8 – 12 week old puppy
(Adjust it to your life style and household routine)
7:00 AM Wake up time for the puppy, goes outside to a certain spot, wait for morning pee, reward!
7:15 Breakfast time, after 20 minutes goes outside to the same spot for a poop, reward!
7:45 Play for 30 minutes outside or inside
8:15 Rest time, goes in the crate, crate doors locked with water and food and toys inside, you and kids leave for work and school etc.
12:00 Break for pee, then lunch, then in 20 minutes goes for a poop to the same spot as before, reward!
12:30PM Play time outside or inside
1:00 Rest time, again in the crate with doors locked as said above
4:00 Break for a pee at the same spot as before, reward!, then play time for 30 minutes
8:00 Dinner, then in 20 minutes goes outside to the same spot for a poop, reward!
8:30 Play time for 30 minutes outside or inside
9:30 Break for a pee outside at the same spot, reward!
10:30 Playtime for 30 minutes to keep the puppy active so he/she sleeps better later
11:00 Break for a pee outside at the same spot, reward!
11:30 Puppy goes to bed in the crate with doors locked and lights off