The old method of house breaking consisted of scolding your pet when he had an accident, rubbing his nose in it and forcibly taking him outside. Regrettably, the new puppy learned that it is not OK to potty over there, or I better not potty on the rug or in the bedroom or behind the couch. Only after many punishments and perhaps by accident does he learn that the only safe place to go is outside. What your new puppy does learn from housebreaking? He has learned that "my master can be very mean and I’m afraid of him". The term housebreaking infers that you must break the animal to have him learn where to potty. A better term (a better approach) is "housetraining".
Housetraining is a plan to teach your puppy where and when to potty. This plan uses positive reinforcement, confinement, and supervision to teach your puppy where and when to eliminate.
When does my puppy need to eliminate?
There are many activities in a puppy’s life that may stimulate bowel movements. If you are aware of these activities then you will know when to take your puppy outside.
- Eating and Drinking stimulates bowel movements. Most puppies have a bowel movement within 45 minutes of eating. So, it is a good idea to avoid a large meal right before confinement.
- Waking from a nap is another time when puppy may need to eliminate.
- After playing you should allow your puppy the opportunity to eliminate.
Teach your puppy to eliminate outside
- Verbal Command: It is a good idea to give a verbal signal to your puppy when you are taking your puppy outside to eliminate. I use the phrase, "want to go out?" But "outside", "potty time" or any short phrase you want is good. Your puppy will soon realize that your phrase means to "go outside."
- Accompany your puppy outside: Always take your puppy to a specific elimination area outside. It is a good idea to select an area that is easy to get to and away from your children’s play areas. Remain with your puppy until he has eliminated. Do not play or distract him. Give him a verbal command like "potty" or "hurry up" in a kind but non-playful voice when you want him to eliminate. He will soon learn that this phrase means to eliminate.
- Praise: When he does eliminate, praise him, pick him up and let him know how much you appreciate him, and take him inside to play. Make eliminating in the appropriate area a good deal. I want your puppy to think, "If I go in my area my guardian is going to love me".
- Be Patient: Your puppy will have accidents in the house. It is inevitable. If you over scold, punish or strike your puppy he will become frightened of you. He may even develop submissive urination: he may urinate every time you approach or he may learn not to eliminate when you are watching him… even outside. And worse, he may learn to fear you and you may become resentful when he doesn’t respond with the love and loyalty you want.
- Be Alert: If you notice your puppy walking away from you, sniffing the floor and/or circling, be on the alert. These are signals that he may need to eliminate. If you see your puppy eliminating in the house stomp your foot, clap your hand or tell him no. You want to be stern enough to stop him from eliminating without frightening him. Ask him if he "wants to go out" and take him outside to his area.
Until your puppy is housetrained, he will need constant supervision. Keep an eye on him all the time. If you allow him to roam the house he will get into trouble. He may eliminate in the house, chew your belongings, or put himself in danger. A new puppy is supposed to be fun. Constant discipline and damage to your property will surely take the fun out of your relationship with your puppy and perhaps even your spouse.
If you can’t watch your puppy, then he should be confined to his crate or a small area that is easily cleaned. If he walks away from you, sniffs the floor or starts circling he may be preparing to eliminate. Ask him if he wants to go outside and take him outside.
- Do Not expect your puppy to be housetrained before 14 weeks of age.
- Do Not consider him house trained until he has had 8 to 10 weeks without eliminating in the house.
- A leash or long rope can be used to keep him in eyesight.
House training is more difficult if your puppy must be left alone all day. Crate training is really beneficial in such instances. Most puppies can go 3 or 4 hours between eliminations. If you work, see if a neighbor or friend can feed and help with training while you are at work.
Crate training is the fastest, easiest, and kindest method of teaching your new puppy good behavioral habits and housetraining. Crate training is very effective because it takes advantage of your puppy’s basic instinct to think of his crate as a den or safe haven and your puppy’s instinct to avoid eliminating in his sleeping and eating area. The crate takes advantage of the puppy’s desire to seek his den for safety and keep his den clean. After a short adjustment period, your puppy will love his crate. Crate trained puppies will usually seek out their crate for naps and rest. Even adult dogs will use their crates for naps.
Crate Training is an ideal way to:
- Housetrain your puppy
- Teach your puppy to eliminate in a specific area
- Prevent chewing and elimination damage in your home
- Improve guardian-puppy relationship by reducing the need for discipline
- Travel with your puppy.
What size crate should I buy?
Buy a crate that is large enough for your puppy to stand and turn around in when he is full-grown. If your puppy is a giant breed dog like a Great Dane you may need to start with a smaller crate and progress to a larger crate as needed. I prefer the plastic traveling crates, because they are easily cleaned and disinfected and they may be used for traveling. Collapsible metal cages are good too. Some owners prefer a small room or an indoor run.
Where should I put the crate?
I think the best location for the crate is where you spend the most amount of time. The kitchen and family room are the usual places. You can have two or more crates if you choose. Some people keep a crate in the family room and another one in the bedroom. Remember the crate is your puppy’s safe haven, his den. Puppies like to be around people. If the crate is isolated from people he may not feel safe. Additionally, noise from the furnace or laundry may frighten your puppy or prevent him from resting.
How do I teach my puppy to like his crate?
Ideally, you should have the appropriate crate prior to introducing your new puppy to his new home. It is easier if you are prepared ahead of time but don’t despair, even an adult dog can be trained to use a crate. Now is the best time to start.
Introduce your new puppy to his crate as soon as possible. Using toys and treats, entice your puppy to enter and exit the crate voluntarily. Allow your puppy to eat and drink in the crate. Do not lock him in the crate during these sessions. These play/training sessions will allow your puppy to become comfortable with the crate.
Your puppy’s first confinement in his crate should be timed with his need for sleep. Feed and water your puppy. Allow him to eliminate. Use play to tire him out. Put your puppy and a few treats and toys in his crate and close the door. Some puppies go right to sleep, but most puppies whine and complain to some degree the first few times they are confined. Puppies do not like to be separated from their family. Never reward your puppy’s whining and crying by letting him out of his crate. Wait for him to settle down and then let him out.
Some puppies whine and complain excessively. These puppies sometimes need some form of attitude adjustment. Try to accomplish attitude adjustment without the use of physical punishment. Soft music from a radio may soothe your puppy. A squirt of water or a startling noise may break the whining cycle. Stay out of sight. We don’t want your puppy associating the punishment with you. Be careful. Excessive punishment may increase your puppy’s anxiety and he may become afraid of you.