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Taking the hassle out of housetraining your puppy
 

Your home has just been blessed with a new puppy that arrived cuddly, warm, and ready to be loved. Unfortunately, it did not arrive housetrained.
Housetraining your new puppy can be easy and effective if you dedicate the necessary time and patience. A successful plan includes supervision, confinement, and encouragement. With these elements, most pups can be trained in a relatively short period of time.

Getting the message across
If you want your puppy to eliminate outside, you must be aware of various conditions and activities that typically stimulate puppies to eliminate, including feeding, drinking, playing, and waking from naps. Learn to be aware of these activities and be alert that your puppy needs to eliminate. Begin to condition your puppy by using a command such as “do your business” or “wee-wee time” as you take it outside. With time, your puppy will learn to signal if it has to go out.

The next step is to teach your puppy where you want it to eliminate. To accomplish this, you must accompany your puppy every time it goes outdoors. Choose a specific location with easy access. The area will soon become a familiar spot as the pup recognizes the odour from previous excursions. Mildly praise any sniffing or other pre-elimination behaviours and consider associating a unique training command such as “potty time” or “hurry up” with the act of eliminating. When your puppy eliminates, praise the pup verbally and offer a tasty food reward. Your puppy will soon learn what is expected of it whenever it goes outside and hears the special command. As you begin housetraining, try to take your puppy outdoors every one to two hours. As he grows older and gets the hang of things, you can wait longer between outings.

Scheduling puppy’s dinnertime
Controlling your puppy’s feeding schedule provides some control over its elimination schedule. Most puppies will eliminate within a predictable time after eating, usually within the first hour. Because of this, it is best to avoid feeding a large meal just before confinement. Offer food two or three times each day at the same times, and make it available for no longer than 30 minutes. The last meal should be finished three to five hours before bedtime.

Preventing mistakes
The most challenging part of the housetraining process is preventing your pup from eliminating indoors. Until it is housetrained, you will need to provide constant supervision. You should not consider you puppy housetrained until it has gone for at least four to eight consecutive weeks without eliminating anywhere in the home. Until your pup accomplishes this, keep it within eyesight of a family member 100 percent of the time.

When you are unable to provide constant supervision because you are busy, sleeping, or away from home, confine your pup to a relatively small, safe area such as a kitchen – don’t banish the puppy away from the household action. Always take your puppy out to eliminate just before confinement. A wire or plastic create provides an excellent area in which to confine your puppy when you cannot observe it, such as at night. A crate has some limitations and should be used correctly. Most puppies will quickly adapt to the crate if you make training fun.

Feeding in the crate, tossing toys inside for the pup to chase, and hiding treats in there should all encourage your puppy to look forward to being in the crate. Crate training is not popular in South Africa but if used correctly can be an effective house training aid. Pups do not like to eliminate where they sleep and they will wake you up during the night should they need to go. The crate can also be placed next to your bed at night so that the puppy feels secure with you nearby.

If you do not like the idea of the crate, another way to ensure that you don’t wake up to a “minefield” is to set your alarm to wake you up at say 2am (if you are going to bed between 10pm-11pm) – wake your puppy up and take it outside to eliminate. As the weeks pass you can start waking up at 2.30am, then 3am etc. It is very unusual that a puppy lasts through the night without an “accident” until they are about four months old. House training is labour intensive to start but if done with care and patience your pup will be house trained quickly, for life and you will build your bond rather than erode it.

If your puppy is home alone each day for long periods, confine it to a larger area such as a small room or exercise pen with a tiled surface or alternatively leave the pup in the garden (the garden should be secure and the pup should not have access to the pool or any fish ponds etc*** see last paragraph). The area should provide enough space for it to eliminate if necessary and to rest several feet away from a mess. For easier cleaning, place paper at the sites where it is likely to eliminate. It is important to associate good things with the confinement area, rather than making it solely an isolation area. Spend some time in the area playing with your puppy or simply reading nearby as it rests there.

Returning to the scene of the crime
To help prevent your puppy from returning to previously soiled areas, remove urine and faecal odour with an effective commercial product (don’t use an ammonia based product as this will encourage the pup to urinate in that area). Saturate areas of soiled carpeting with odour-neutralizing products (the staff at Twisted Whiskers can assist you with the best products available) – merely spraying the surface is not as effective. If your puppy begins eliminating in certain areas of the home, deny access to these areas by closing doors to the rooms, using baby gates, rolling up loose carpets or moving furniture over the soiled areas. Most pets avoid eliminating in areas where they eat or play. Feeding or placing water bowls, bedding, and toys in previously soiled areas can discourage elimination at those spots.

Keeping your cool
No puppy has ever been housetrained without making a mistake or two. Be prepared for the inevitable. It does not help to become frustrated and harshly discipline your puppy. Punishment is the least effective and most overused approach to housetraining. If you catch your puppy eliminating in the incorrect spot, immediately take your pup to its elimination area outdoors to finish. A correction that occurs more than a few seconds after your puppy eliminates is useless because it will not understand why it is being corrected. If the punishment is too harsh, it may learn not to eliminate in front of you, even outdoors, and you run the risk of ruining the bond with your puppy. And don’t even think about rubbing its nose in a mess. There is absolutely nothing it will learn from this, except to be afraid of you.

Some pets will squat and urinate as they greet family members. Never scold them. This problem is due typically to either nervousness or excitement, and scolding will always make the problem worse. This will disappear as the puppy gets older.

With a little patience and a consistent approach, your puppy will be as housetrained as the rest of your family.

The pool or fish pond
Although many of your pups are good swimmers they will not unfortunately know where the step is for instance in your pool, to make a safe exit. Many fish ponds are deep enough for a puppy to drown. A puppy will try to get out where they fall in unless they have been trained to make for the step. Due to their power to weight ratio most pups will not be able to pull themselves out. Treat your puppy like you would a toddler when it comes to the pool/pond. Even if your puppy does not appear to like water or go anywhere near the pool, he/she can be bumped in by your other dogs or even just fall in as they are still so ungainly and learning where their legs are. It does not take long for a puppy to drown so take extreme care. A helpful tool to make your pool/pond easier to get out of is a product called a Scamper Ramp. Please enquire at Twisted Whiskers for more information.

 
     

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