How to Survive House Training Your Puppy!
Teaching your puppy to be clean in the house is probably one of the most challenging, hair wrenching and frustrating parts of raising a puppy. At least with human babies, they wear nappies and tend not to poop all over your carpets and soft furnishings every ten minutes.
Soiling the house is, sadly, one of the number one reasons why many people decide to re-home their puppy. However, it need not be a traumatic experience for puppy, or owner, if a consistent approach is adopted.
Helping your puppy to learn where the loo is.
Consistency is the operative word. Puppies are not able to physically control their bladder, or bowel, until they around 12 weeks of age. However, by the time they are around four months old, they should be starting to understand where they are supposed to be going to the toilet.
During the puppy training process, owners need to be super vigilant. Watch out for sniffing, circling, or squatting, as all these behaviours may indicate the puppy needs to go the toilet.
The general regime, day to day, will involve taking your puppy outside every hour, or so. In addition, he will need to be taken out after every feed, after he has slept and after, or during, playtime.
When you take your puppy outside use one word, or phrase, that he can associate with toileting. This may be something like, “busy”, “hurry” or “wee wee’s”. Any word will do as long as you pair it with the pup’s action. Once your puppy squats to go to the loo outside, use the cue word.
As the puppy performs, use gentle verbal praise. Try not to sound too excited, as this may interrupt your puppy from doing his ablutions. Once he has done, take your puppy immediately back indoors, praising all the way.
What to do if your puppy has an accident in the house.
During house training you should NEVER scold, or physically punish, your puppy for soiling in the house. If you catch your puppy actually soiling, or makes an attempt to do so, (by squatting for example); simply say “ah, ah” in a firm tone and immediately take your puppy outside.
This may well mean picking him up swiftly, (but not roughly) and taking him outdoors. Once outside, gently encourage him to toilet by using your cue word, or phrase.
Equally, if you find deposits in the house which the pup has done without you noticing, or while you were out – do not scold him. Similarly, never ‘rub his nose in it’.
This is both cruel and confusing for your pup, who will have no idea what you are scolding him for. This can result in an anxious and scared pup who will be more likely to soil the house in the future as result of being handled unfairly.
Just like human babies, puppies cannot hold their bladders, or bowels, for long periods of time when they are small. It is to be expected for a a puppy to relieve him, or herself, in the house if left alone for a couple of hours, or overnight. This, however, will become less and less, as the puppy matures, and he is able to control his bodily functions better.
Should you use newspaper, or puppy pads?
Many people advocate the use of newspaper and puppy pads to aid house training. While this can certainly be useful to mop up inevitable accidents while you are not around to watch him; you are in effect reinforcing him for soiling the house.
If you prefer to house train this way, there is certainly nothing wrong with it, other than the potential for confusion in the puppy’s mind. However, be prepared for the process to be a little more protracted in the long run.
If you have to pop out, or during overnight periods, confine the puppy to a suitable area with a washable floor. Cover with newspaper, or puppy pads, to soak up any excess deposits, while discouraging the pup from walking in it. When you return, remove the soiled paper. Do not reprimand the puppy.
Are crates helpful for house training?
Many people advocate using crates to aid house training. The reasoning behind this is that puppies generally dislike soiling their beds. This is true, but nevertheless, a puppy that cannot hold his bladder for very long. He may try to do this if he is confined to a crate. As a result, it can cause stress and anxiety for the puppy, particularly if he had been reprimanded previously for soiling his crate.
By all means, use a crate for your puppy. Crates are great for general use and many puppies like having a ‘den’ to retreat to. Allowing your puppy to exit the crate and relive himself, however, is fairer on the puppy – if a little inconvenient to owners.
You could use some garden trellis, or puppy panels, to create a newspaper covered ‘porch’ to his crate. This means he will not be forced to toilet in his bed.
Preparation is helpful when house training.
House training is frustrating and it can be a lot of work. Preparation before you bring your puppy home will help enormously. Look around your house to work out where best your puppy can sleep overnight, or when you are out. A comfy bed placed on a washable floor, for example.
To confine the inevitable mess a little more, consider investing in some puppy panels to make a little ‘room’ for your pup. If he does need the loo while you are not around, at least he can’t spread it all around the whole room, or house!
Keep stocked up with kitchen roll, cleaning cloths, carpet and fabric cleaner. Invest in a cleaning solution specifically made for cleaning up animal deposits.
For washable floors, keep a mop and bucket handy, topped up with clean water and disinfectant (but away from puppy!), so you can quickly clean up any accidents as you go along.
Most puppies will be past the stage of soiling the house by the time they are four to six months old. By this time, the majority will also have grasped the concept of ‘asking’ to go out.
My Labrador Jasper learnt to jangle the keys in the patio doors with his nose. This alerted us to the fact he needed the loo. It made us giggle for years, long after the house training trials were well and truly behind us!