Puppy House Training
House training your new puppy! Clear written house training instructions by Ridgewood Kennels
House training a puppy may seen like an impossible task. But it doesn’t have to be. The key is to understand how your puppy thinks, learns, and reacts you. Here at Ridgewood we recommend the crate training method.
Crate training is not cruel. Puppies are den animals, and if they were in the wild, they would dig a hole in the ground, only big enough for their body and their dinner. Instinctively, the crate becomes their “den.”
- Buy a plastic kennel cab, or pet carrier. This suits their need for a den, ex: dark, small, they can see you, but you can’t see them.
- Puppies go to the bathroom for 5 main reasons:
- After eating
- After drinking
- After sleeping
- After being in the crate for a long period of time
- After playing very hard
- It is your part in the first few days and weeks to determine the puppy’s body schedule. He/She might go 5 minutes after eating, or 30 minutes after eating. Maybe he/she can play for 20 minutes without peeing, or one hour. Every puppy is different, and you will start to understand yours quickly!
- While learning your puppy’s natural body schedule, you must mold it to fit your schedule. You can create or discontinue habits based on your actions as a pet owner. Puppies have the ability, even at 8 weeks old to hold their bladder for 8-9 hours
- Do Not take your puppy out at night. If you hear him/her crying, go make sure he/she is alright. If you let your puppy out at night, you will create the habit of having to go to bathroom at night instead of making it go away. (They will also know they get attention by crying.) *Only 2 exceptions to this rule. Let your puppy out at night if it has been over 3 nights and they are still having accidents in the crate at night and are crying to let you know. Or if you have reason to believe they did not do all their business before you went to bed
- Do not go home from work at lunch. Again, the puppy will not learn to hold their bladder, and it will take much longer for them learn holding their bladder if they are not used to it immediately.
- It Is Okay to use the crate as a babysitter. If you are overwhelmed with the puppy having accidents, if he/she is continually misbehaving, or if everyone is home, but everyone is busy doing other things, do not feel guilty about putting the puppy in the crate. They should never roam free on their own until they are older, and if you crate him/her even when you are home, you can rest assured there will be no accidents, and they will not get into something they shouldn’t.
- Outside should only be for potty time until your puppy is housetrained. Going outside for walks or to play confuses the puppy about what they are supposed to do when they go out. This generally takes 2-3 weeks for a puppy to understand that outside is for potty. When you do allow your puppy to play outside, make sure they “go” first!
- By feeding your puppy in the crate, spending a lot of time in the crate, and sleeping in the crate, you are bringing out the “den instinct.” Within 2-5 days puppies understand that since that’s where they eat and sleep, they should not go to the bathroom there.
- Find a 2’x2’ area in the yard where your puppy’s “spot” will be. Always take the puppy to the same spot, on a harness and leash and do not let them wander out of it. The first week carry them to and from the spot, the second week, carry them to the spot and let them walk back to the house. After the third week, let him/her walk to and from the spot. This helps establish in their mind where they need to go.
- Always use the same words and the same door.
- Stand outside, no longer than 3 minutes. Any longer, and it becomes playtime in your puppy’s mind. (If it is a situation where you are certain your puppy needs to go, for instance he/she just ate, and he/she doesn’t go in the first 3 minutes, go to the house door, turn around say your phrase, and try 2 minutes. Still no success, try 1 minute. If your puppy still does not go, put him/her back in the crate for 5 minutes and try again.)
- For successes outside, make a fool of yourself! Puppies LOVE attention, and of course treats don’t hurt either!
- When your puppy has an accident inside, DO NOT SCOLD him/her. One of three things could happen if you scold your puppy:
- He/She will try to hide the next accident and you will find it a week later behind the TV, couch, etc.
- He/She may start to eat the “evidence.”
- He/She will think it is bad to go the bathroom at all, and will refuse to go in front of you, inside or outside.
- Instead of scolding your puppy, ignore the accident (no rolling the eyes, or sighing or anything…puppies are very perceptive!), hook your puppy up to his/her leash, scoop or wipe the accident up in a paper towel and take everything, including the puppy out to his/her spot. Put the accident on his/her spot (if it is urine, wipe it on the grass), set your puppy next to it, and once he/she sniffs it, give them a treat. Puppies are smart and they will know they did not just do that there, but it helps them understand what you’re asking of them!
- Tips for helping your puppy sleep through the night:
- Find a nice, quiet, dimly lit place to have the crate at night.
- Have one special toy (something they cannot get stuffing out of) that they are only allowed to have in the crate.
- Leave a TV, radio, or ticking clock on so they do not feel so alone.
- (This one solves many people’s sleepless nights!) Feed your puppy 3 hours before bedtime. This gives the puppy enough time to go to the bathroom before bed, but also helps them sleep much later into the morning. If you go to bed at 10pm, feed your puppy at 7pm, then roughly 12 hours later at 7am.
- The first major breakthroughs in house training happen in the first 2-3 weeks of owning your puppy. Be very disciplined with your training and schedule and you will have great success! And if you think your puppy is trained just a month down the road, remember, they can regress and it is harder to re-train, so we recommend sticking with this regiment until at least 4-5 months of owning the puppy. Then slowly give them more freedom at your discretion.