House training your puppy
There are various ways to house train a puppy and everyone who has dogs will have their own tried and tested method. This is the one I like to use, I have used it many times and it has always worked for me.
The moment you arrive home with a new puppy take it into the garden to relieve itself. From now on always take it to the same spot to ‘be clean’, you need to do this after every meal/ sleep/play/excitement/first thing in the morning/last thing at night/when it ‘circles’ or appears to want to go out and about once every hour during the day. Whenever the puppy performs say ‘clean dog’ and give lots of praise, then take it straight back into the house so that it associates going out to that particular spot with one purpose only.
I believe the fewer times a puppy soils in the house the better and the more chance you have of teaching it that the only place to ‘be clean’ is outside. Everyone expects a small baby to cry during the night and they attend to it knowing this particular stage in the baby’s development won’t last very long. To me puppies are no different from babies in this respect and I like to give them the same consideration, to do this will mean a bit of inconvenience and getting up in the night a few times so that their daytime routine remains unbroken and there is less opportunity to soil in the house. Most dogs don’t begin to gain bladder and bowel control until around four months of age, so what you are in fact doing is preventing the puppy from soiling in the house until it has matured sufficiently to wait to go out.
Most dogs don’t begin to gain bladder and bowel control until around four months of age
Having established a daytime routine, when it comes to bedtime take the puppy upstairs and have it near you in a small box containing a blanket, a jumper with your ‘scent’ on and a soft toy, it should go to sleep quite quickly in the dark and the sound of your breathing will be very comforting. Remember it has only just left its mother and littermates and is now started to bond with you, having you near will help to bond/ build trust between you. If it needs to go out it should cry to alert you not wanting to soil in the small bed. If it wakes pick the puppy up gently, take it outside, place it on the ‘usual spot’ saying ‘be clean’ then give lots of praise when it performs. Before returning to bed I like to offer a drink of water, there’s no room for a water bowl in the small box and it shouldn’t really be needed as the puppy is going to be sleeping.
When the puppy has got used to this routine and can be relied on to wait to be taken out you may wish to progress to leaving it in the kitchen during the night. Continue to use the same familiar box (now with the front cut out) and contents also leave a ticking clock in the room to provide a reassuring sound. Set an alarm clock for the time it usually wakes and take it out at that time, every couple of nights add a few minutes to the time you go to take it out. Don’t be surprised if there is the odd set back and the puppy wakes and cries to go out early, this can happen although some are really good and hardly wake much at all. Alternatively, you may wish to continue having the puppy in the bedroom with you, it’s a matter of personal choice.
Until house trained it is best to restrict your little dogs access to one room only like the kitchen, if there are any accidents quickly clean them up with the minimum of fuss and without speaking to or looking at the culprit.
If I catch a pup in ‘the act’ of having an accident I never shout or punish it and don’t even acknowledge the incident has happened at all . It is easy to get angry and shout but in so doing you will make the puppy fearful and afraid to ‘be clean’ in your presence. Some people say ‘you can’t just say nothing because the puppy will do it in the same place again’ but why should it, this was an accident and if you are vigilant accidents won’t happen very often if at all. I prefer to ignore the incident completely, by doing this it should soon be forgotten, and as far as the puppy is concerned it bought no reward whereas ‘going’ in the right place brings praise. Instead of saying anything I take the puppy outside to the ‘spot’ in silence, this reinforcing the fact that this is where it should go, then I clean up the soiled place thoroughly and carry on as before.
It has now become fashionable to buy dog crates; I think they are very good but have never needed one myself preferring to use a large homemade playpen which can be moved into the garden when needed. One problem with a crate is the size required by a full grown dog is usually too large for house training purposes and I prefer something smaller and more cosy. Crates can be expensive so if you are buying one it is best to buy a large crate the puppy can grow into and make sure it is strong and well made with no sharp edges. If you are intending to use a crate for night time training you will need to section it off so that the area in which the puppy sleeps is kept to a minimum to deter soiling, one way to do this is to put a small box in the front of the crate allowing room for the bed only and no space in which to soil. With a crate you can also hang a special drinking bottle on the side.
For some people getting up during the night may seem like a lot of effort particularly when they may have to get up early to go to work, but I think it is well worth the trouble and in no time at all you should have a clean and happy dog that can be taken anywhere.