Going by the adage, the child is the father of the man, a puppy it may be also said, is the father of the dog. That’s why it becomes all the more important to housetrain your puppy right from the very early days so that it becomes a grand dog in the future that everyone loves to have around. However, housetraining is a long drawn process that doesn’t happen overnight.
Rather, it takes consistency, patience as also positive reinforcement to instill good habits in your dog and yet, build a most loving bond with it. It takes typically 4-6 months to fully housetrain a puppy on an average. However, some puppies may also require a full year to be housetrained.
Factors that influence housetraining
Size is a major contributing factor. For example, smaller dogs have relatively smaller bladders and also higher metabolisms rates that lead to more trips to the toilet zone. The puppy’s previous living conditions is another factor. The pup may have got used to certain habits which may take more time to change.
However, remember that setbacks will be inevitable during the course of training, but these needn’t be cause for worry. You should have a regular program for taking the puppy out as soon as he needs to and offer him rewards for letting you know. He’ll learn soon enough.
Beginning the process
Housetraining should ideally begin when the puppy is between twelve & sixteen weeks old. This is the right age as it develops some control over its bowel and bladder movements and learns to hold on at least for some time. However, a pup that’s older than twelve weeks and dirties his living quarters regularly or maybe even consuming his waste, may take longer. The dog’s behavior needs to be reshaped with patience, love, and proper rewards.
A rarely recommended method (which no matter is cruel and unusual) is to confine the puppy in a pre-defined space, be it a crate, its room, or with an extended leash. With time as he learns to go outside for answering nature’s calls, more freedom may be given to the puppy to roam around the house. A regular and timely feeding schedule has to be maintained, and no food should be given in between meals.
Dogs like to move and run around, putting them in prison which is what this is should be the last resort. If they chew on your shoes, perhaps do not leave your shoes out. Have you bought them any bones so they have something to chew on?
Take her out as soon as she wakes up in the morning followed by repetitions every half an hour to one hour. Also, let her out immediately after meals or when she finishes her nap. Even before retiring at night, make sure to let her out once. Visiting the same spot every time to defecate teaches her that it’s her spot and her scent subsequently will lead him there.
Keeping her company for as long as she is out will aid the housetraining process. As soon as she has her bowel movement outside, say a word of praise and give her a pat or treat.
Using crates for very young puppies is ideal, at least right at the outset (but some people believe this is cruel and no dog should be put through it; would you want to be in a crate?). A crate bound pup is easier to keep under observation, particularly if you are trying to potty train him. As soon as the pup shows signs of restlessness that is typical before it urinates or defecates, take the pup outdoors and wait for him to do his job. Repeat this every time until the pup understand that it is a routine.
The crate should be large enough for him to stand, lie down, and turn around but not that big that allows him to find a corner to use as a toilet. Once your pet is trained properly, stop using the crate. It is immoral to keep animals confined in small enclosures.
If the puppy is being kept in the crate for more than two hours, keep fresh water in a bowl that is attached to it. If your work schedule is hectic, ask someone to do it for you – someone that you trust and who is reliable.
If the pup shows signs of emotional disturbance while it is confined to the crate, stop using this method immediately. If the puppy consistently tries to get out of the crate by crying, scratching, or barking, it means this method is not suitable, and you should try other ways to train your pet.
Again, crate training should rarely be used. Most people should not have to do this. Perhaps you yourself need some training on how to train a dog if nothing is working or you just are not getting it.
Common setbacks in housetraining
Puppies are prone to accidents until they are a year old. These usually happen due to incomplete housetraining or because of sudden changes in his environment. However, even in the case of an accident, don’t stop the training. If it still doesn’t work, consult his veterinarian to eliminate any medical issues.
Basic housetraining do’s and dont’s
It pays to bear in mind the following do’s & don’ts when housetraining the puppy:
Never, ever punish the puppy for defecating indoors. It’ll only make him more fearful of you. Should you catch him in the wrong act, clap very loudly so he immediately realizes he’s done something which is unacceptable.
Then lead him outside gently by his collar and praise him as he finishes. If he defecates indoors but you didn’t actually see him do it, don’t react negatively by shouting angrily or by rubbing his nose in it. They get confused by your anger for no apparent fault of theirs.
The idea is to catch them in the act and correct them gently. Try and stay outside longer with your puppy as this helps curb accidents. The extra time is required for him to sniff around and explore more. Clean up the mess with an enzyme-based cleanser instead of an ammonia-based one to reduce odors that attract the puppy back to the original spot.
It is absolutely imperative to remember that housetraining is as important as feeding and grooming your puppy and goes a long way in making him a well behaved dog. Like they need to compulsorily have eating, playing and sleeping routines, so do they need their daily defecating routine also. It helps them grow faster and keeps them healthy.
In sum, housetraining is a process of routine and regular scheduling. A basic thumb rule is that puppies are able to hold their bladder for one hour for every month of their age. So a 3-month old puppy needs to be let out every three hours to prevent an indoor mess though if you have a doggie door installed this could help in dealing with this.
The choice of the outdoor bathroom spot is best left to its own choice and reward it once it obeys your command. Dogs respond well to little rewards and train faster when they are regularly praised, have their bellies rubbed, given a treat, and so on.