Getting a new pet puppy is an exciting experience that can quickly turn sour if you’re not prepared for the next challenge: house training. Not many pet owners can cope with a pup whom you have to constantly clean after, especially when you have a day job to think about as well. If you don’t want to end up frustrated by the whole house-breaking experience, you should try out these tried-and-true methods for training your pup.
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When you still new to your dog, you probably won’t warm up to the idea of confining her in a crate. However, crate training brings many benefits including convenience during travel and vet visits, as well as ensuring your dog’s own safety. Dogs, being den animals, actually love seeking out corners for security, which makes crate training easier than you think.
Dogs are also very clean animals who don’t like living in spaces littered with poop any more than humans do. Using a crate, therefore, compels your pup to go outside when she needs to relieve herself; just make sure the crate isn’t so large that she can pick out a corner to do her business in. The right size of crate according to the AKC is one that’s “enough for the dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around”.
But you shouldn’t stop there. Monitoring your pup for warnings that she needs to go is equally important, so you know when to let her out. When she feels the urge, your pup will normally give you signs that can range from circling and sniffing around, to scratching and walking with stiff hind legs.
Making Trips Outdoors
It’s important to have a regular schedule for bathroom visits because puppies have tiny bladders which can’t hold the pee in for too long. To figure out how frequently you need to let your pup out use an interval of one hour for every month of her age. That means if she’s four months old, she’ll probably go every four hours or so. But keep in mind that the timing will vary to some degree depending on the individual puppy, after all every canine has their own peculiar potty habits.
When to take her out
You should generally let your pup out first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but also after she’s fed, after playing and if she’s been in her crate for a while. You may want to consider having someone around to let them out when you’re away at work, or hire a dog walker to help you with this task.
Most pet owners would love it if they could teach their pups to hold it indoors and only eliminate when they’re outdoors. However, this may not be feasible if you’re not there to supervise your dog during the day. That’s where paper training comes in – puppy pads give your furry friend the option of relieving herself in an approved spot at home.
Here’s how you can make your own indoor potty area for your pup using paper towels:
- Cordon off a corner of a room with baby gates. Make sure the area is spacious enough to allow your puppy to do her business and have a clean, dry spot left for playing and sleeping.
- Take an old box and fill it with paper towels, dog litter or sod and position it inside the gated area. You should be able to get these at your local pet store.
- Also make it a habit to put paper towels in the litter box whenever you use them to clean up poop left behind accidentally by your pup. Soon enough your puppy will understand what the purpose of the indoor potty area is for.
Once your dog has matured you can always teach her to go outside to eliminate. The only problem with this method is it requires a new round of training when she has to go outdoors.
Other Factors in Potty Training
Apart from the methods above, it’s important to create an environment where it’s easy for your pet to potty train. However noble your training methods are, they can only work if you:
- Control the diet: Since puppies can’t handle a lot of food due to their under-developed digestive systems, dividing up meals into smaller portions helps with potty training. You should only feed your pup on meals that are agreeable to her stomach; be sure to look out for signs that your pup isn’t feeling well. Examining their poop and urine will tell you if there’s a problem. If your pup diarrheas frequently, or has traces of blood in their stool or urine this could be a sign that she’s ingested something harmful or she has a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- Keep a consistent schedule: Whether it’s making trips outside, feeding or exercising, these activities should all go like clockwork so that your pup learns there’s a time and place for everything.
- Exercise: This helps with motility so that your dog doesn’t suffer from problems like indigestion and constipation. Playing with a Frisbee in the park or taking her for long walks is a good place to start.
Reinforcing Your Puppy to Poop Outside
Practise These Simple Dos and Don’ts If You Want To Have a Positive Impact On Your Pup:
Do: Rewarding your puppy when she “goes” at the right spot is a good way of securing her cooperation. Make it a habit to offer her plenty of praise whenever she does this. For example, you can have some puppy treats on hand to treat her when she when she squats to pee, and crown it all by showering her with praise.
Don’t: Yell at your pup if she makes a mess or, worse yet, rub her face in it. Some people erroneously think that rubbing a puppy’s nose in the mess they’ve made or reprimanding them will teach them not to eliminate while in the house. However, punishing your puppy when she has an accident can wind up doing more harm than good. She’ll only become scared to relieve herself in your presence because she’ll think you’re punishing her just for answering a call of nature. Some dogs go as far as pooping and trying to hide the evidence just so they don’t get punished (e.g. by eating their poop) – the direct opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
Stopping Your Pup from Eating Poop
No one knows for a fact why dogs eat their own poop; there are suggestions that dogs use this gross habit to replenish depleted nutrients in their system, while others suggest that it’s just their way of keeping the den clean. Whatever the case this is a habit that can be hazardous to your health and it’s in your best interests to put a stop to it at once.
Here are some methods you can employ to put an end to this problem:
- Get advice from a vet: Although coprophagia is mostly thought of as a behavioral problem rather than a medical one, it’s good to visit the vet to be sure just to be sure it’s not a deficiency symptom. Eating poop could also be the result of parasites or a problem with the pancreas. Before taking any action make sure your dog isn’t eating poop because of a health issue.
- In case it’s a nutritional issue consider a change of diet. Feed her only nutritious, quality food that is purposely formulated for the dog’s age and breed.
- Keep your dog’s kennel/sleeping area clean: Remove any traces of poop from the dog’s vicinity, right after he goes. This way, you won’t give her a chance to eat her poop.
- Try using taste aversion products: spraying your dog’s poop with products like garlic, parsley, pepper-paint, or chamomile makes poop eating a far less appealing prospect for your dog.
- Add a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin to her food bowl during meal time: Pumpkin is repulsive when expelled in excrement, and this should discourage her from eating it.
- Teach your dog the “leave it” command: Use praise and treats to reinforce this behavior as a more permanent way of getting her to stop eating poop. You can also take her for walks to exercise her mind and body as well as break the habit. Using a leash while walking will also make it easier to command her to stop sniff at and eating the feces.
Potty training your pup can be relatively simple, or difficult depending on her age and where you got her from. Some puppies have a head-start by virtue of having been trained by the breeder before coming to you, while others – say, from a shelter – may not be so lucky. What is important is to always keep in mind that even the best-mannered puppies will have the occasional accident, and you need to have the patience and temperament to bear with them. Using the methods discussed in this article you should be able to turn your pup into an independent, potty-trained companion that’s a joy to live with.