No one enjoys a house full of little puddles (sometimes big ones!) and having to watch where you step. Having a puppy in the household can be a joyous time, but also highly stressful. Using a crate is highly recommended while trying to housetrain your puppy. It is one of the easiest methods, has a high success rate, and can be learned quickly by your puppy with a little praise from you!
Follow these 5 Steps to a ‘piddle-free’ home…
STEP 1: CHOOSING A CRATE
Make sure your pup has enough room to stand up and turn around. But you won’t want to purchase one that is so large that he/she are able to use the bathroom AND have the ability to lie comfortably and play.
Be prepared to purchase several crates for the first year as your puppy grows. Especially if you have a large breed puppy or your puppy will do quite a bit of growing still. Small breeds and and toy dogs most likely will need only one, maybe two depending if your puppy grows larger than you thought!
STEP 2: MAKE A HOUSE A HOME
Place the crate in a central area of your home. A living/family room works well, or any room that you and your family like to spend a lot of time. Doing this will help your puppy to feel secure, like a part of the family, and confident to go in/out of the crate without feeling lonely, isolated or trapped. If you have a very young puppy I suggest that you move the crate into your bedroom at night so that you are able to hear when your puppy needs to relieve him/herself.
Place a comfortable blanket, towel, or soft bed. I recommend purchasing one that has a removable cover for easy washing in case of accidents. Sometimes out of boredom a puppy will chew/rip up their bedding. If this happens be sure to remove all chewed pieces and remove the bedding until your puppy grows out of the chewing stage. This prevents any possibility of swallowing or choking on anything which could potentially lead to expensive vet bills!
Give your puppy appropriate toys to play with. Any toys that can be easily chewed should NOT be given to your puppy while unsupervisted in the crate (i.e., toys with stuffing and/or squeekers). It is best to choose toys that are hard, and large enough that cannot be swallowed, such as a “Kong” with a treat inside or a “Nylabone.” If you do find chewed pieces they should be removed immediately to prevent choking or swallowing which can lead to an obstruction in the body and expensive vet bills!
STEP 3: FUN ASSOCIATIONS
Let your puppy have the freedom to go in/out of the crate on their own without shutting the door or leaving. It is incredibly important to associate fun and favorable situations with the crate. It is so important to make the initial introduction of the crate a positive experience. Your puppy may not take to the crate immediately, don’t rush, just keep keep at it! Play around the crate, place some toys and some treats inside and encourage your puppy to go in and out on his/her own. Work on some other training such as “sit” and “lie down.” Teach your pup to sit outside the crate, then tell him to sit inside the crate. Show him/her that being in the crate is no different than being outside the crate! You can also place some favorite toys in the back of the crate to encourage your puppy to enter the crate. Make it as fun as possible and of course, be patient!
Gradually begin with a few minutes and work up to several hours. Start out with just a few minutes and work up to a several hours while you are at home dong chores, watching television or other activites. You’ll want to build confidence and the feeling of security and not that ‘crate=isolation/alone.’ If you only shut your puppy in while you are gone you will create that association. If you only shut your puppy in while you are gone you will create that association.
Say “No” to whining! If start to let your puppy out of the crate immediately when you arrive home because of whining you will most likely gain frustrating behaviors that will be present in an adult dog. Waiting for your puppy to quiet down before letting him/her out will help prevent such behaviors. This can be suprisingly hard, but stay strong
STEP 4: PROPER BATHROOM ETIQUETTE
Designate an area for your puppy to eliminate. Choose an area in your backyard (or if you wish to paper-train or use a puppy litterbox) that you want your puppy to use everytime he/she goes to the bathroom. Make sure to always take your puppy there!
Give praise everytime your puppy goes. You can bring a small treat with you. Giving a treat as soon as your puppy finishes will encourage them as soon as they go in their potty area they get something tasty! Timing is important for your puppy to learn this is what you want them to do!
Make sure to take your puppy out often. Your puppy has a small bladder and will need to go out as soon as often as possible. Once you get into a routine with your puppy it will become second nature and ver easy to know when your puppy needs to go. Don’t get discouraged, and be patient!
STEP 5: PRACTICE MAKES HABIT
Practice! Practice! Practice! The more stable and consistent of an environment you create for your puppy, the happier you will be, your puppy will be, and your household will run a lot smoother.Expect some mistakes. Housebreaking a puppy is not an easy task. Be prepared for accidents and try to stay calm and relaxed when they do happen. Just direct your pup away from the area, take him/her to their designated area, and make sure to use a good product designed to eliminate urine/fecal odors.
Remember to be patient, don’t get easily discouraged, and most importantly…HAVE FUN!