By: Edward G. VanDoorn
So you’ve just brought your new little one home and you’re sitting back watching him or her run about the house checking out each and every nook and cranny of the new palace, when you see the nose go to the ground. The puppy sniffs around for a couple moments, you feel your muscles tense hoping that what you think is about to happen doesn’t, you hold your breath, the puppy pauses, all the sudden you hear yourself screaming, “Nooooooooooooooo!”
Piddling, wetting, pottying, peepeeing, whatever cute, creative word that you have personally adopted to describe the execratory functions of your pet doesn’t negate the fact that you now have another living, breathing family member who needs love, attention, food, water, and yes, even a bathroom (of sorts). So what do you do? Here are some tips and tricks that we hope will help you “weather the potty training storm” of you and your new pet.
There are a number of ways that you can potty train your new puppy. However, in our experience of successful methods and for the purpose of this article we’re going to cover the method known as “Crate Training.”
Crate training involves the use of the crate. As a general rule, puppies do not like to soil their beds or that place that they sleep because they would be forced to lay in the soiled mess. Puppies that are placed in a crate that is comfortably large enough for them to bed will give them a good resting environment in the first few weeks that they’re in your home, yet not adequate space for them to think that it is a good place to potty as well.
During housebreaking, whenever the puppy cannot be within sight, he or she is placed in the crate. This can be times that you are preparing meals, playing with children, reading a book, watching television, sleeping at night, and especially while you are away from home. The last thing that you do before putting the puppy in the crate, is take him or her outside to their favorite spot to potty. The very first thing that you do when taking the puppy out of the crate is to take another trip outside to that same favorite spot. As the puppy demonstrates that he or she can be trusted, and you notice that they are starting to catch on, you can leave him or her out for longer periods of time. However, do NOT rush this step. Ensure that the puppy does, in fact, have a clear understanding of where it is acceptable to potty and where it is not. Remember these two golden rules when teaching your puppy anything (not just housebreaking!)
Remember, this very important rule – If you don’t catch your puppy doing it – then do NOT punish the puppy for it!
Praise the puppy when he or she does what is expected. Ensure that you give the puppy lots of positive reinforcement when they do something well and don’t find yourself realizing that you’re only telling the puppy “NO” when doing something wrong. The puppy needs both kinds of reinforcement to learn the difference between the two.
By using the Crate method you are teaching the puppy a couple of very important lessons. The first and most obvious lesson is that you’re teaching the puppy where it is and is not okay to relieve themselves. Albeit important, the second lesson is almost of greater importance. You are teaching the puppy that even though when the urge to potty occurs, that they CAN hold it. Just because a puppy feels like they need to relieve themselves, by using the crate method, the puppy learns that they do not have to relieve themselves right then. This is thought to be the main reason why puppies that have gone through the crate training method typically have a higher success rate and many fewer mistakes later on.
More tips and tricks in Part Two of our Potty Training Series!