If you’re one of the lucky few K9 Magazine readers who’ve recently acquired or are thinking of getting a new puppy, congratulations! You’ve done your homework and selected the breed that’s right for your lifestyle. You’ve got your copy of K9 Magazine, bringing even more joy to your exciting ownership experience and now we’re going to make it even better by delivering a brand new puppy advice article in each and every issue from now on.
We begin with the issue that most new puppy owners need advice with the most in the first few weeks after bringing puppy home - housetraining.
House-Training Your New Puppy
Most animals that are born in a nest have an instinctive desire to move away from their nest/living area in order to relieve themselves. They will do so without being taught as soon as they are able.
At the age of about three weeks, they will begin to leave the sleeping area to go to the toilet. Your job as a puppy owner is to teach them that our house is ours and their nests, and that they have to move outside when they want to relieve themselves.
Begin the house-training process by taking puppy outside to the same spot in the garden at the following times:
1. Shortly after each feeding, playing, exercise, and any excitement.
2. Immediately upon waking.
3. First thing in the morning.
4. Last thing at night.
5. Once every hour.
It is important to stay outside with him. Be patient and wait. As soon as he begins, say a chosen phrase to him such as "Toilet!".
When he has finished, praise enthusiastically and play a game with him. Keep the area clean by picking up any mess and flushing it down the toilet.
Puppies are easily distracted when outside, so having the patience to stay with him until he has settled down is essential. If you leave him to it, he will probably run to the back door and spend the rest of the time trying to get back in with you. Once you let him in, the stress of the separation, together with the increased excitement and exercise, will make him want to go, and you will be left with a mess inside and an uneducated puppy.
However, there is no need to stay outdoors for hours, waiting for him to go. Wait for a few minutes only, and if nothing happens, take him inside and try again a little later. If at any time of the day you notice him sniffing the floor and circling or getting ready to squat, immediately interrupt him and take him outside. Let him walk. Do not pick him up, or he will not learn the vital link in the process, which is: "When I need to go, I need to get to the back door and into the garden."
If, at any time, you catch him in the act of going in the house, quickly issue him with a stern command of, “No!” The command should be loud enough to capture his undivided attention and to stop him mid-flow, but not so loud that he runs for cover. Do not punish or get angry; the distress this causes your puppy will inhibit the learning process. He will also begin to avoid going to the toilet in front of you because he knows it makes you angry and will sneak away to do it, making it harder for you to teach him the correct behaviour. Without fuss, simply move him outside and let him finish his ‘business’, praising heavily when he does.
Toilet training should not end with housebreaking. If you want to avoid the unpleasant but necessary task of picking up after your pet in the street, it makes sense to train him to go before you leave home. This is not as difficult as it may seem but requires a fair amount of patience in the early stages.
If you have been successfully working at the housebreaking process, you will, by the time you are able to take your puppy out, have a particular phrase that your puppy will associate with going to the toilet. If you take your dog out for a walk only after he has been to the toilet, he will eventually begin to realise that producing the required deposit results in a walk.
A lot of puppy owners use a technique known as ‘crate training’ in order to speed up the housebreaking process. Crate training is successful because the puppy is far less likely to have accidents in the house as they are confined, at sleeping times, to a smaller area which resembles a nest more than house does.
The puppy is therefore more naturally inclined to hold their urge to ‘go’ until they are let out of the crate and it then becomes easy to time and anticipate your puppies toilet breaks and thus issuing more praise, less instances of the puppy going in the house and a general acceleration of the entire process is easier. Crate training is a personal choice and the principles of house-training remain the same.
1. Praise (wildly) when they do ‘go’ outside.
2. Never scare or startle the puppy if catching them in the act indoors.
3. Never, ever, under any circumstances rub a dog’s nose in any accidents. THIS DOESN’T WORK and is entirely unhealthy and unpleasant.
4. Try to spot the tell tail signs when your puppy is telling you they need the toilet. These include circling, sniffing in corners, whining for no apparent reason and any time shortly after eating or drinking.
5. Remember, a puppy’s bladder is physically very small and they actually can’t hold their toilet movements in for long periods at a time. It is inevitable that a young puppy WILL have accidents in the home but as they get older and in combination with a well planned house-training program, they will get better. Too many puppies end up in rescue homes just because owners didn’t anticipate the time and patience required to achieve perfect house manners.
It may take time and patience, but your new dog will deliver bundles of memories, fun moments and joy over the years, so it's well worth sticking with it and getting it right.