Isn’t it great when your new puppy comes home and everyone is enjoying him?
Great, yes, until housetraining begins and the constant trips outside, the accidents in the carpet, the puddles you step in and the frustration that occurs when you take the new baby outside to “go” and all he does is play.
That is, all he does is play until you get back indoors and then he “goes” on the floor.
Patience on your part indeed becomes a virtue at this point.
Follow the system I’ve detailed below and your puppy training will become much, much easier and more successful.
It all centers around everything the puppy does being on a schedule.
Start with the feeding schedule. Pick two times of the day that you can feed the puppy every single day. That means the puppy being on the same schedule on work days as on weekends. Let’s say you’re going to feed the puppy at 7 AM and 4 PM. First, take the puppy out for a chance to use the bathroom. Then, after an appropriate time, take him back in and let him eat as much food as he wants in a 10-15 minute time period.
Next, we’re looking for the gastrocolic reflex. This is a normal response to eating which simply means that when something goes in the front end, something has to come out the back end. At some point after the meal is finished he will want to have a bowel movement. For some puppies, that’s 5 minutes, for others, it’s 55 minutes. Time will tell you what his individual schedule is, and you’ll know that, say, 20 minutes after eating he needs to go out and use the bathroom, and that will apply consistently to each meal. That way, if you need to be getting ready for work, you know from the time you feed him until the time he needs to go out you have “x” number of minutes, then you’d better be ready to make a trip outside.
At that point, take him out the same door each time, to the same spot in the yard, near something recognizable, like a birdbath or tree. Keep that area clean so it will be inviting to go to each time. Pick up the stool each time he goes, or at least once daily, and dispose of it down the toilet. Allow him sufficient time, usually 5-10 minutes is enough, then take him inside again. He must learn that some trips outside are bathroom trips, and others are for play, and he must be taught which are which. Do not allow him to play on a bathroom trip. If he doesn’t get down to business, take him back indoors, then back out again a little later.
When he’s finished, praise him lavishly, and take him indoors.
Puppies will need to go out to use the bathroom each time they eat, chew, wake up, or play hard. Repeat the exact same routine on each trip.
“Crating” is an excellent adjunct to the training procedure. This technique involves using an oversized airline carrier (the big size is available at Sam’s for under $50) for the puppy to be in any time he is not supervised, such as when you’re at work, when you have to go to the store, and at night. Put the crate in an out-of-the-way place where the puppy can sleep and rest undisturbed. By doing so, we’re simulating the “den” environment that wild dogs live in. You’ve seen on Nature and Discovery Channel shows, wild dogs living together down in a hole. Wildlife biologists call this a “den”. Instinctively, dogs know that they don’t urinate or defecate in the den. Likewise, while your pet is confined to a small space, he will know that he shouldn’t soil that area, or he will have to eat and sleep with it.
Puppies should never be allowed to run free in the house unobserved. If you let a toddler run around the house with no diaper on, you get urine and stool scattered around. If you let your puppy run around free in the house, unobserved, you get urine and stool scattered around. In addition, he sees an extra benefit: he goes to the bathroom indoors and there’s no penalty for it. Therefore, he learns, “I can go in the house anytime I want to, or at least, anytime no one is watching.” If you can’t observe your pet, he must be in his crate. When you see the typical circling and sniffing behavior that indicates that he’s looking for a place to “go”, you know to pick him up, take him to the same door each time, take him to the same spot in the yard (etc.).
Follow these simple steps, remember to be patient, and remember that some puppies learn more slowly than others.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.