HOUSEBREAKING YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
Did you adopt a new puppy in the last few months? Are you having issues with housebreaking? This problem can be frustrating for new and experienced dog owners alike and we’d like to offer some suggestions to help those of you with this issue.
A crate is very useful for housebreaking your puppy and should be treated as a place for safety and rest rather than punishment. Puppies shouldn’t have access to your entire home at first; the more space they have to roam, the more likely that they’ll have an ‘accident’. The crate should be placed near a door that has access to your yard so you can get your dog outside quickly. You can also keep your puppy in a small area--like a kitchen or laundry room--with a baby gate at the door and a tile floor for easy clean up. For now, the focus of this training tip is housebreaking and crate training will be discussed at a later time.
If you have a young puppy, you’ll first need to get them accustomed to wearing a collar. Then take them outside on-leash every 2 hours or so and, when they pee or poo, give them lots of verbal praise as well as a small treat. Since dogs learn through association and repetition, your dog will learn that they’re rewarded when they pee or poo outside. By taking them out on-leash, you control where they go in your yard. Otherwise, if you let them out in your yard off-leash, they’ll have difficulty adapting to wearing a leash once you take them for a walk on the street.
If your dog has an ‘accident’ in the house, don’t scold them (verbally or physically) because they may become afraid to defecate in front of you outside and may wait until they come back in the house. Instead, stay calm and take your dog outside to finish. Then, before cleaning up, collect the urine in a new sponge, take the sponge outside and release the urine on the ground. If your dog poops in the house, place a portion of it outside, also at your dog’s special spot. The next time you take your puppy out, take them to the specific area that you ‘marked’ with their scent and they should keep going back to that location. If you catch your furry friend before he starts to pee or poo in the house, clap your hands to startle him. When he stops, take him outside to his special spot to finish. Remember that most of the times dogs have accidents in the home are because someone is distracted or not paying attention.
Another tip to prevent accidents in the house is to remove your pup’s water dish 2 to 3 hours before bedtime, so they relieve themselves outside before going in the crate for the night. This will reduce the chances that they’ll have an accident in the crate and they may sleep longer in the morning before you have to take them outside.
Some dog owners use pee pads for their puppy, but you don’t want them to become dependent on them because they’ll eventually have to learn to go outside. An alternative option is a Potty Patch, which is similar to a litter box with artificial turf on top. It comes in handy for those who live in apartment buildings and can’t always take their dogs outside.
Housebreaking your puppy takes time and preparation and some dogs learn more quickly than others. So be patient and, if possible, schedule some time at home to help your puppy adapt to his new environment.