Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Housebreaking 101

Housebreaking a puppy is one of the most common things that people ask me about.

Please do not get discouraged. Like much in Dog Training, this can be accomplished if we develop a routine and are consistent.

As many of you know, I encourage crate training with puppies. When you are not at home or when you are sleeping the puppy should be in a crate.

I recommend a crate like the one pictured on the right. This is a wire crate. You should buy it for the adult size of your dog. Pretty much all of these crates come with a wire divider that can make the interior area of the crate smaller. This way you can make the space smaller for the puppy and move it as he grows. The area should be just a little bigger than the dog needs to lie down. The idea here, from a housebreaking perspective is that dog's generally do not eliminate where they sleep. Therefore, if the area is only big enough for him to sleep, he will be discouraged from eliminating in the crate.

These crates vary greatly in price depending upon where you buy them. The lovely Shane and I made a trip to a local store called "Tuesday Morning" I was surprised to find that not only did they have a good selection of crates but they also had pretty good prices as well. I will give you another tip, Petco sells their crates much cheaper on the website than they do in the store. They do not advertise this but, if you are nice to them they will usually match the web site price in the store if the item is identical. Also, Wal-Mart, Big Lots and Lowes all carry crates. So shop around for the best deal.

I also discourage people from spending a lot on crate pads or bedding  for a puppy. Until they get out of the chewing stage, I recommend old towels, blankets, etc.

When you are at home, it is important that you keep the dog where you can see him. That means in the same room with you. Generally a puppy will eliminate in another room not right in front of you. So keeping him confined helps. Also this makes it easier for you to spot the indications that he may have to go (restlessness, circling a spot, etc.)

I know it is frustrating but, please resist the urge to yell at the little guy when he has an accident. If you catch him in the act, clip on the leash and take him outside. If you don't catch him in the act, simply clean the mess.

Speaking of cleaning: It is very important that any mess he makes is cleaned up very well. He should not smell the urine/feces. This is difficult when it occurs on carpet. I strongly recommend cleaning any accidents that occur on carpet with a enzymatic cleaner.
 The Nature's Miracle product on the left is a very good product. However, any cleaner that is enzymatic will work. These also vary widely in price so shop around. They are available from pet stores and pretty much anywhere cleaners are sold. I found that Petsmart has a better deal on this stuff than Petco but a thrifty shopper can probably find a better deal than either one at a non-pet sort of store.

Okay, a few things to remember here, in regards to housebreaking:

  1. A puppy can generally only hold it for a maximum of one hour for every month of age. This is just a rule of thumb and this is only for waking hours. When the puppy is sleeping his metabolism slows and he can wait longer to go. Also, small breed dogs have smaller bladder and colon muscles. When they are puppies they are not yet fully developed. So, I have found that small breed puppies may need to go out more often. That being said, take your puppy out often when you are home.Give him the best chance to succeed! 
2. I know I said this before, but it is very important to keep the dog confined to the same room you are in while you are at home.

3. If the feeding schedule is routine the elimination will be routine. Feed the puppy at the same times each day and take up the food after he eats.

4. I strongly suggest that you don't just let the puppy out in a fenced backyard off-leash to potty. Take him on the leash and wait for him to do his business. He is less likely to get distracted this way and it is safer as well.

5. Again, don't scold the dog for having an accident in the house. He does not connect it. He will think that you are mad about the mess and he may make sure that you don't find it next time. Just take him outside when you find it and clean it up well.

6.  If the puppy is continually having accidents in front of you, it is possible that the problem is medical. A puppy will usually try to get away to eliminate.  Consider having him checked by a veterinarian.

This covers the basics of housebreaking. If you need additional information or if you are having problems please contact me!

Till Next Time


William Moore
William Moore Canine Training

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