So many people are getting new puppies. Congratulations. I'd like to share some of the things I have learned along the way that really helped me, and would like to ask those with experience to also share what has worked for them. I was fortunate to have a mentor who lived locally who helped me train the dogs and learn so much about them. I also help out in rescue. My dogs are five and four and I have learned a great deal on this journey. We don't get a dog, we get a lifestyle!
This is a thread I'd like to start for those who get a new puppy. These are two articles that absolutely made my life easier, and I had a puppy that grew to a dog who could be trusted to roam the entire house and be trusted.
Gloria Dittman gave me this, we did it and it worked. I wasn't as vigilant with Daisy, and she has accidents...
How To Housebreak
Gloria S. Dittmann (c)
This article is meant as a companion piece to my article
HOW TO CRATE TRAIN. The assumption is that those who
are reading this article are crate training their puppies,
as the crate is an integral part of proper housetraining.
When housebreaking your puppy, two facts must be kept in
mind. The first that that although the need to keep the den
clean is instinctive, the puppy has no idea that your entire
house is now his den. It is your responsibility to show
puppy that the entire house is now the puppy's den and the
puppy is expected to keep the den clean.
The next fact is that puppies, when it comes to bladder and
bowel control, are not much different from human infants. Puppies have
small bladders and bowels at first and virtually NO muscle
control. While a puppy may intellectually understand the
housebreaking philosophy within 2-3 weeks, his body takes a
lot longer to mature to the point where puppy has the
physical control needed to be clean in the house under all
conditions. Do not ask, nor expect, a puppy to 'hold it'
longer than is physically possible for that puppy.
A 3 month old puppy is virtually incapable of going for
6-8 hours at a time without eliminating even once. If you
have a full-time job that will keep you out and the puppy crated for
prolonged periods of time (longer than 3-4 hours), you
should make arrangements for someone to come in mid-day to
let puppy out for some exercise and to be able to eliminate.
If this is not possible, you can use an exercise pen (a
free-standing playpen for dogs) attached to the crate or you
may place the crate inside the playpen. This
way, the puppy can sleep in the crate and then exit into the
exercise pen to get some exercise and to eliminate. Be sure
to place the pen and crate away from walls or
draperies...puppies LOVE to chew on moldings, plaster and
Now, when puppy first comes home, remember
that puppies MUST eliminate within 15 minutes after eating,
immediately after drinking water, immediately upon waking,
when excited (when company comes, for example or puppy is
startled by a sudden, loud noise) and during and after play sessions.
Be sure to take puppy out at these times until you learn
your puppy's individual needs and schedule. Also keep in
mind that it takes approximately 2-3 hours for a puppy to
digest a meal. If you feed your puppy breakfast at 7am and
then crate it, it is going to have to eliminate by 11am or
noon at the latest. Keep this in mind when planning your
Now, until puppy begins to understand what
is expected of him in terms of housebreaking, it is up to
the human family members to keep a very close eye on puppy.
Be sure puppy is always with you except when puppy is
crated. Puppies will usually give a signal to indicate they
have to eliminate. They will walk with their noses to the
ground while sniffing for a likely spot; walk in a circle;
get 'that look' in their eyes that tells you what is coming.
Close observation of your puppy will soon let you know what
your pup's individual signal is. When you see it...get puppy
outside as quickly as possible! Take puppy to the same spot
in the yard each time you take him out, and use a key word
command such as "DUTY! Do your DUTY!" or whatever word you
choose to use each time puppy goes. This way, he will begin
to associate the word with the action and before long, he
will eliminate on command.
When puppy eliminates, praise him! LOTS of praise!
Never let puppy out alone to eliminate!
He needs you there to keep him company and to praise him as
soon as he performs properly. Sometimes it may take puppy a
while to sniff around and explore before he goes. BE
PATIENT! Too often people give up after about 15 minutes,
come in and whammo! Puppy immediately goes on the floor or
carpeting! You are just not giving puppy enough time
outside. Puppies have virtually no attention span at this
age and their memory spans are non-existent as well. They
need some gentle encouragement to keep their minds on what
they should be doing. Try not to make this time playtime as
this will also distract puppy. If you know puppy has to go but
puppy is fooling around and you run out of patience, come back
inside and place puppy in the crate for 10-15 minutes. Then carry
puppy back outside to the usual spot and wait again. Chances are,
puppy will do his business this time, however if he fails to eliminate
once again, put him back in the crate for another 10-15 minutes and
then take him back outside and try again.
If puppy does have an
accident in the house and you do not catch him in the act, do
NOT punish him! Even if you come in 30 seconds later, let it go. As previously
stated, puppies have little or no memory span at this age. A
puppy will not associate a scolding or spanking (and it is
NEVER necessary to spank a puppy for having an accident or for any other reason!)with what happened 30 seconds or 30 minutes ago. Oh, he will
act guilty and contrite, but that is only because he is
reacting to your body language. Dogs are masters at reading
the most subtle body language signals we give off almost
subconsciously. This is how dogs communicate with each
other, so it is not surprising that they use this talent to
'read' us as well!
Rubbing a puppy's nose in his mess is an
old wives tale which does NOT work. All this does is
confuse the puppy and possibly cause him to resent you for
what he thinks of as your unreasonable behavior. If you do
catch the puppy about to have an accident or having one,
immediately growl "NO! BAD PUPPY!!", pick him UP and rush
him outside to a spot he is used to going. Now, he is going
to be very startled by this unexpected development and will
temporarily stop what he was doing or about to do. Just be
there with him and quietly, in a friendly tone of voice,
give the word command you are using. Once he does settle
down and finish what he started, praise him lavishly! Then
clean the area he soiled inside with a good enzyme
These products use enzymes to literally
eat the odor-causing molecules found in all organic matter.
Conventional cleaners such as Lysol, etc. use perfumes to
cover up the old urine scent...but only to human noses!
Canine schnozzes have no trouble at all detecting old urine
sites. Use of an enzyme product stops this cyclical behavior
(going back to the old site to eliminate) by completely
eliminating the old scents.
By closely following this program, your puppy should have
the basics of housebreaking down within a few weeks, although
each puppy is an individual and will progress according to his own internal
body schedule. If your puppy is having trouble with VERY
frequent urination or frequent, loose stool, check with your
vet. Any time a dog's bladder and/or bowel habits change
suddenly and radically and stay that way for longer than
about 24 hours, you should check with your vet as well.
And please remember that your puppy is really not much different
from a human infant. Like a baby, a puppy has to be mature
enough, mentally and physically, in order to completely
control itself in the house. Be patient with that new
pup...he has a lot of learning and growing to do in a very
short period of time! Love and lots of patience will have
that pup turning into the best dog you've ever owned in no
time at all!
(c) Copyright 1995 - 2008 Gloria S. Dittmann. All Rights
Reserved. Any reproduction, in whole or in
part, in any medium without the express permission of the
author is strictly prohibited. For reprint information and
permission, please contact the author via e-mail at [email protected]