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Puppy Housetraining Tips


Good  Health Is Essential:
Make sure your puppy or dog is healthy before undertaking housetraining.  Intestinal parasites are the most common cause of inappropriate defecation. Bladder infections are a frequent cause of inappropriate urination.  Have a stool sample checked by your veterinarian.  If you suspect a bladder problem, have a urine sample checked as well.  Symptoms of bladder infection include frequent urination of small amounts, unproductive straining, or licking of private parts.

Feed your puppy a good quality puppy food.  Avoid over feeding or making sudden changes in his diet; both can cause diarrhea. Another common problem arises when a dog has been given steroids to treat a bee sting or allergic reaction.  Steroids usually increase the dog’s water intake and urine output.

Feed your puppy on a fairly regular schedule, two or three times a day. Allow 30 minutes for each meal, and remove the leftovers after that time.  Maintaining a feeding schedule helps predict output. Schedule your puppy’s trips outdoors.  The average puppy needs frequent opportunities to eliminate.  Start first thing in the morning with a trip outside as soon as your puppy awakens.  Puppies feel the call of nature about every hour when they are awake and playing.  They need to go out soon after eating, and after drinking water.  By the age of 10 or 12 weeks, the average healthy puppy can sleep through the night.  If your puppy has an accident, examine the schedule and make adjustments to prevent future accidents.

One of the most valuable tools in housetraining is the dog crate.  Intended to be used like a baby’s playpen or crib, the crate keeps the puppy safely confined when no one is available to supervise your puppy.  Crating prevents accidents for the normal puppy, because it’s instinct to keep the nest clean is very strong.  Crating also prevents your puppy from destroying your treasured possessions while teething, or being injured by chewing on or ingesting something harmful.

Your puppy should be crated at night while you are asleep, and any other time you cannot supervise his activities.  This includes times when you are on the phone or in the shower, or doing anything that prevents you from paying full attention to your puppy.  He should have an opportunity to go outside every time you let him out of his crate.

Every time you take your puppy outside gives it plenty of cues.  As you walk out the door with your puppy say “Let’s go outside.”  Take the puppy to their spot, and repeat your cue phrase as it is about to eliminate. Be sure to use a phrase that does not come up in every day conversation. 

Avoid cues such as “hurry up” or “be a good dog” in favor of something more specific, such as “go potty.”  When your puppy goes, praise enthusiastically and  give a reward  with a very small food treat right there on the spot.  After several
repetitions of this routine, your puppy will learn to eliminate on cue .This is very useful in bad weather or strange place; they learn that eliminating outside is more fruitful than eliminating inside.  After about a week or so of this continue to praise the puppy every time it goes outside, but reward with food on a more random basis.  In a few weeks you won’t need the food reward at all.

If you find an accident clean it up, consider adjusting your puppy’s schedule to prevent another accident.  Punishing your puppy only teaches him to be wary of you and lose trust.  If you catch him in the act and punish or correct him he will learn to eliminate when you aren’t looking, which will defeat your training program.  If you should see your puppy circling as if he has to go, gently remind him to “go outside” and help him get to his spot where he can earn praise and a reward.

Accidents happen most frequently in the morning or evening when the puppy is out playing with the family.  It is easy to become so involved in an activity that you forget that the puppy hasn’t been outside in an hour.  If this is the case, find a way to remind yourself, such as setting a kitchen timer or alarm clock.

Unrealistic expectations are a frequent cause of problems in housetraining. On average, the bladder/brain connection is not fully formed until the puppy is about 8 months old.  If a young puppy does go to the door and “ask to go out,” his need is immediate he must go out right away.  Some dogs never learn to ask to go out, while others learn quickly to go to the door and sit or bark or ring a bell.  Some dogs learn to use a doggy door easily and go out whenever they feel the urge.  The best way to ensure success is to stick to a schedule long enough for the puppy’s body to adapt to it and get in the habit of eliminating at particular times.

Neuter or Spay:
If you are not planning to enter your dog in conformation competition, neutering or spaying helps ensure successful housetraining.  Neutered males may still lift their legs, but are less inclined to mark their territory. They are also less prone to certain cancers and prostate problems that can lead to accidents in older dogs.  Unsprayed females ovulate twice a year on average.  For several weeks before and during the heat cycle they are more prone to mark territory.  They are also more vulnerable to bladder problems that can lead to accidents.

Paper Training Is Not Housetraining

Teaching your puppy to eliminate indoors on newspaper does not lead to success in housetraining.  Dogs are place oriented, and once taught to go in a particular place on a particular surface will continue to do so.  Careless newspaper readers are liable to reach for a section they left on the floor only to find it has been used by the family dog. If you must confine your puppy for more than six or eight hours at a time, or if you live in a high-rise apartment with a small dog, consider using a “litter box” for your dog. 

 A plastic under-the-bed storage container, lid removed, filled with bark mulch will serve this purpose very well.  The mulch absorbs urine odors, and smells and feels like “outside.”   You can confine your puppy in a small room, such as a bathroom, with a baby gate, giving him enough room for a comfy bed, his water dish, and his mulch box.
This approach works well for young puppies and very elderly dogs with health problems, and is less likely to interfere with your efforts to train your dog to eliminate outside.



Good Luck With Your Puppy !