Puppy training begins before the puppy even comes home to you. It starts with the breeder. Dogs naturally don’t like to go to the bathroom where they eat and sleep and they especially don’t like to stand in it. However if they’re conditioned from birth to live in a filthy whelping pen they soon lose this natural aversion. (this is common with puppy mills, and some backyard breeders. Even an unplanned dog litter can run into this problem if the owner doesn’t know much about raising puppies) When puppies leave the litter and go to a place like a pet store, poorly maintained rescue, understaffed animal control or humane society where they continue to live in filthy conditions, it can make house training very difficult. To prevent your puppy from having accidents follow these simple steps.
- Take your puppy outside often, to the same spot every time, on a leash, and reward them while they’re in the act of going. The first two weeks I had Charlie, I took him out close to 20 times a day! (at almost 12 weeks old on Friday the 4 of November Charlie went potty 26 times and poop 4 times) I took him out after he woke up from a nap, following a training session, exiting the crate, going into the crate, after any exercise, a busy game of catch, after he ate, drank water, about every 3-4 hours overnight, and about every 20 minutes while he was awake and busy in the house. When he did go out, I would take him to the same area every time. I chose an area that does not get much foot traffic, covers about a 14ft diameter, open grass, and is quick to get to in the middle of the night. While he was in the act of going, I would tell him he’s a good boy and I avoided going over the top with my praise. When he finished, I would give him lots of praise.
- Use the crate when you can’t watch your puppy. In Charlie’s case, he was raised with a clean whelping pen, so I was able to use the crate he will eventually grow into. However if your puppy is used to unclean living conditions, you should use a crate with a divider or a small size crate to begin with. Charlie has only stayed in the crate for a maximum of two hours during the day in the last four weeks. In general, most puppies can hold it for one hour for every month they are old when confined to a crate. It’s important that you don’t leave your puppy in the crate for a period of time that is beyond their bladder control. If you need to leave them for longer than two hours, try to find someone to stop in at the halfway mark to let them out.
- Clean up! Make sure to regularly scoop solid waste from the outdoor potty area, and if there are any accidents in the house or crate, clean it all up. Use a cleaner that removes the scent entirely from indoor accidents to prevent your puppy from going again in the same area.
Preventing behavior problems comes with every single interaction I have with Charlie. The way we behave around our dogs greatly influences they way they behave around us. Planning ahead is essential part of prevention. A few examples of this:
- If I don’t want Charlie to jump up, I can’t pick him up. As tempting as it is, I have not picked Charlie up for the sake of cuddling. There were a couple of times in his first week with me that he was too sleepy and tired to continue walking as far as I needed him to, so he was carried back to the car. I’ve needed to give him a boost to get up in the car, and by now (almost 12 weeks) he almost has it down to getting in the car unassisted.
- If I don’t want him to chew up my kids stuffed toys, I don’t provide him with stuffed toys to play with. Rawhide (while unsafe for a variety of reasons) can easily cause dogs to chew shoes.
- Play biting is a very common behavior with most puppies. If we feel teeth, we stop interacting with Charlie, but we also try to prevent him from play biting by redirecting him before he has the chance to bite.
Finally a tired dog is a good dog, but an exhausted dog is a nightmare! Charlie needs his rest. Sometimes he doesn’t always know when he needs it, so it’s up to me to schedule nap times. When he becomes downright naughty, it’s a big red flag to me that he needs some time to rest. In the crate he goes, and usually he falls asleep right away. Having a consistent schedule for him helps him know what to expect throughout the day and allows for a much happier family. So our daily schedule at almost twelve weeks old looks like this…
4:30am wake up, potty and poop, breakfast in the crate
5:30am potty break, training for 15 minutes
6:00am potty break, fun play time
6:30am potty break, back in the crate
7:30am potty break, off to take kids to school
8:00am sleeps in the car
9:00am potty break, walk outside, then depending on the day we usually keep busy with socializing, training, walking, or running errands.
11:30am pick up from preschool
Noon stop at houses to let other dogs out to go potty, Charlie will sometimes get to play with these dogs. Or we run a couple of errands.
1:00pm potty and poop, lunch time in the crate
1:30pm potty break, training for 10 minutes followed by fun time
2:00pm potty break followed by a long nap in the crate
3:30pm potty and poop break, bus drop off, and fun play outdoors for an hour
4:30pm crate time while I make dinner, help with homework, and do chores around the house. If I have to work that evening, Charlie will usually stay in the crate until I get back home. He will still get potty breaks and dinner as he needs them.
6:00pm potty and poop break, dinner in the crate
6:30pm potty break, 15 minute training session and fun time
7:30pm to bed for the night
9:30pm potty break before I go to bed.
As Charlie continues to grow our schedule is going to change, he won’t need to be in the crate as often, and he won’t need to go out as often. Even though he goes potty close to 30 times a day, as an adult dog it will be only 4-5 times. He won’t require as much rest time, and I’ll be able to trust him and not need to watch him so closely. Of course there’s a lot I didn’t cover. It sure would be a long post if I went over everything. I tried to touch on the most important. If you think of any questions, please ask! I love to talk dogs. Life so far with Charlie Brown has been a lot of fun. Puppies are a lot of work, but are very rewarding. Happy Training!!