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Use a specific command, i.e., “potty”, “park” when you want the puppies to relieve themselves. It is taught by repetition and scheduling the puppies’ natural relief times. Successful house training is built upon a dog’s innate desire to “not soil the den”, and upon getting the puppy to his “relief spot” when he needs to go. Accidents are almost always a human failure — not a puppy’s misbehavior. Some puppies learn in just a few days, others may not learn until they are three to four months old and some puppies just don’t have the muscle control until they are several months old. Practice, praise and patience are the keys to successful house training as you follow these steps:
• Use a consistent puppy bathroom area. Take your puppy to the same spot in your yard each time. This will soon become a signal as to the mission he is to accomplish while outside.
• Always accompany your puppy. Even if your yard is fenced, this is a vital step to house training. You must be there to praise the puppy when he relieves himself. Watch for the tell tale signs of circling, sniffing, and starting to squat, and then ask the puppy to “park”. Tell him “Good park/potty!” as he relieves himself, and praise him like he just won the Super bowl.
• Take your puppy out to relieve himself frequently. Your new puppy will need to park/potty every 30 minutes to an hour when awake, immediately after he wakes up from a nap, after meals, after drinking and after play, or during play, if the play period is length. He has a very small bladder, and little physical control. As your puppy gets older, his control will improve, and he may learn to give you signals when it is time to park. Keep in mind that your puppy will need to go more frequently when he is very active or highly distracted, and toward the end of the day when he is tired.
• Limit your puppy’s freedom during house training. Dogs are essentially clean animals. Your puppy would prefer not to soil his home. By confining him to a small play area, such as a kitchen or mudroom, you can help him learn to wait until he is outside to relieve himself. Even in a small play area, you must watch him closely. It is your job to successfully get your puppy outside when he has to go.
• Use your puppy’s crate appropriately during house training. When you cannot supervise your puppy, crate him for safety, as well as house training. However, you must be sure that you get him outside frequently enough to prevent accidents in his crate. When resting in his crate, how many hours can he go between relief times? As a general rule, he can rest in hours, his age in months plus 1. For example, a 3-month old puppy can rest 3+1=4 hours between relief times.
• Expect your pup to find it harder to “park” away from home. You will need to allow for extra “park” time when you are away from home with your puppy. He will not have the familiar sight and smells of his home parking spot. He does not have a familiar exit to go to when he needs to relieve himself. Help him by taking him out frequently and watching for signals that he needs to go out.
When Accidents Happen
Even diligent owners will have to face a few accidents during house training. There are appropriate ways of responding to their own, and their puppy’s mistakes.
• If you catch you puppy in the act of relieving himself you can often slightly startle him into stopping with a verbal “no” or “ah-ah-ah”, then scoop him up and take him out to his “park” spot. As soon as he begins to finish his Job outdoors, praise him.
• If you find the “evidence” but don‘t catch him in the act, reprimand yourself for not being diligent in getting him out when he needed to go. Adjust his “park” schedule to get him out more frequently, if needed, and reduce his indoor play area to a more manageable size. Do not scold him after the fact. He will not understand. If anything, he will think that, “Mom does not like that stuff, so I better hide it better next time”. You may begin to find accidents in out of the way places behind furniture
• Accidents on carpets: For effective long lasting clean up, use enzyme-containing cleaning solutions especially designed to destroy urine odors. These are readily available in pet stores and through pet catalogs. Usual household disinfectants are not nearly as effective.
• Accidents may happen in public places. It is embarrassing, but true. Getting our young puppies out to socialize is so important, that there may be a few accidents. Use your best house training skills to prevent accidents, but always be prepared to clean up. Carry paper towels, moist towelettes and plastic bags with you at all times. Stay on hard surfaces such as linoleum, while your puppy is very young.
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