Behavior Tip of the Month
HOUSETRAINING THE PUP
Our new pup potties all over our house. My wife insists he stay outside. What can I do?
A dog is a social animal. He needs to be part of a family, and to live with you in your home. This will be impossible unless he has learned where he may defecate and urinate, and where he may not. Therefore, the first and most important thing to teach your new puppy is Housetraining.
Most puppies will not soil the area right around their body. Until they learn to be housetrained, they need to be kept in very small areas that they will not soil. They can be tied to you going with you from room to room. Other options include an airline crate (a puppy playpen), an exercise pen or a small area of the kitchen or bathroom cordoned off with baby gates. At night, confine your pup in your bedroom if possible to maximize bonding and minimize nighttime urinating.
SEE YOUR VETERINARIAN
Make sure your puppy is healthy. Take him to your veterinarian to check he doesn't have worms, cystitis or a bladder infection. He can't be housetrained if he has these conditions.
Take your dog to one designated potty area first thing in the morning and after eating and drinking. A young pup will need to go out after playing, chewing on a toy, following a nap, before meeting new people and the last thing at night. If possible, young puppies should be taken to their designated potty area frequently while you're home.
At potty times, teach your pup to perform on command. Have a phrase for it, e.g., "Get Busy" or whatever. Say this very softly over and over. Make sure to face sideways and only look at your pup out of the corner of your eye. Try yawning. These are calming signals to your dog and will make him feel relaxed and ready to potty. DON'T stare at him. When he performs, immediately (within 1/2 second of his pottying), praise him and put a delicious food treat in his mouth. If he hasn't pottied within five minutes, take him back into the house and confine him in his den. Twenty minutes later, repeat the process. It will not take many repetitions before your pup has caught on to the idea.
SCHEDULE FOOD AND WATER
With puppies, elimination is simple. What goes in comes out, soon (about 30 minutes later). Therefore, while you are working on housetraining him, he should not have free access to food and water. These should be offered at certain times, (2-3 times a day) so that the moment becomes predictable. During the day, water needs to be offered frequently. After 6:00 PM, give your pup an ice cube every hour.
Keep a log of your pup's eating, drinking and pottying habits for one week. You need to discover your pup's internal time clock so you can anticipate when he needs to potty.
During the day, the puppy should be one of five places:
1. In the house in the same room with you under your constant direct supervision.
2. In the house and confined to his crate or exercise pen (but not more than two or three hours).
3. Tethered to the foot of a table with a leash about two times his length (with you in the same room).
4. Umbilical-corded to you (on leash, fastened to your belt).
5. In a kitchen, blocked off in a small space by baby gates.
Under these conditions, he will tend to hold it and not eliminate until you take him outside. Of course, you can put him outdoors in a safe place when you can't watch him. However, this will not help to housetrain him.
The last feeding should be around 6 p.m.; then, pick up the food and water. Take puppy out to relieve himself before you retire. Have him sleep in his crate in your bedroom. Chances are he will be clean and dry all night unless he's 8-12 weeks old. In that case, he'll need to be taken out in the middle of the night.
By 12-16 weeks, he may be able to hold it all night. If you don't have a crate, you might tether him to the foot of the bed on an old blanket.
Inevitably in the process of housetraining, your pup will make some "mistakes". The trick is to keep him under direct supervision so that you can catch him in the act; or better yet, just before the act. Watch for that characteristic body language, sniffing or circling around. Startle him into contracting his sphincter muscles. There are many non-punitive ways to do this. Try a loud "Eh, Eh!" or "No", a hand clap, or hit the wall or table, etc. Now, quickly, take the pup to the designated toilet area with an "out, out, out!" Let him finish there. If there's anything to clean up inside, don't let him see you doing it. Blot the spot with paper towels; use an enzymatic cleaner and odor neutralizer made for pets that contains no ammonia. Otherwise, your pup will return to potty on that spot.
If you don't catch your pup in the act of pottying in the house (and that means while he's doing it, not even seconds later), don't correct him. He will only think you're attacking him for what he's doing at that moment (looking at you?). You'll make him frightened of you. Since a dog thinks in present-time, he has no idea why you're attacking him. He only becomes more stressed (which may cause more "mistakes"), Remember, if your pup makes a "mistake", it was really your fault. You weren't paying close enough attention. "Bad human"!
NEVER put his nose in his "mistake". It ruins your relationship and may make him think you want him to eat his poop. YUCK!
Good luck in teaching your best friend. I hope by following these housetraining guidelines, your dog will be even more "poopular" at your house!
Best Friend Behavior Counseling and Training
San Diego, Ca.
"Positively teaching pets and their people since 1977"
Do you have a question for Carole? You can reach her at this email address - firstname.lastname@example.org Perhaps she will use it in an upcoming article on this Web site.
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.