Housebreaking puppy


You purchased wall-to-wall champagne-colored carpet in April. Then, you welcomed a six-week-old Cocker Spaniel named ''Strawberry'' into your home in May. Follow our simple Housebreaking Program and we'll make sure you're still married in June. With hard work and discipline, all three of you will be celebrating soon enough. Champagne and Strawberries really do go together. We promise.

Go, Baby, Go — Outside: Housebreaking Basics

Like people, puppies do best when they consistently receive clear expectations and are rewarded for good behaviour. Here are some general guidelines to get you started:

It is up to you to set clear, consistent rules your pup can follow. Do this by choosing a general potty location, but realize a puppy probably can't tell the difference between piddling on pinecones and petunias. Note that once she ''initiates'' a chosen space, she'll use the odor from the first visit as a clue to tell her where to go in the future.

Then, pick a key word or phrase like ''Strawberry, do your business,'' and repeat it each and every time she is expected to pee or poop. This way, she knows what you want her to do. (In a perfect world, you would utter the command and she'd go instantly. Dog trainers call this trick ''vocal command elimination.'' It is an ideal situation, but don't expect it quite yet.).

Make a huge deal of successes, clapping, cheering, even rewarding her with a treat on occasion to let her know she's done a good job. Eventually, she'll connect her actions to the praise and, wanting more praise, she will repeat the action.

Timing is Everything: Frequent Elimination is Necessary

The bladder of a six- to eight-week-old puppy needs to be emptied every one to three hours; older animals can wait a little bit longer between outings. Consider using potty time to bookend the activities in your puppy's day. For example, take her outside after the following events:

Waking in the morning



Playing or training

Being left alone

Prior to bedtime

What Goes In Must Come Out: Scheduling Your Pup

Lucky for you, puppies' bodies fall into a routine pretty quickly. You can make their natural biorhythms even more predictable by setting regular mealtimes and affording frequent potty breaks. Note that most are up for a ''sniff of air'' about an hour after feeding. Thus, by making an educated guess as to when your girl has to go, you can significantly limit the number of accidents inside. For further predictability, consider setting a schedule for you pet that includes:

Mealtimes when you are home to let her out of the house

Limiting meals to 30 or 40 minutes to ensure that food and water are consumed prior to potty time

Completing the final feeding before she's confined for the night

There's No Place Like Home: Considering Crate Training

There will come a time when you've got to leave your puppy alone, your prized book collection just out of reach. (Or so you think.) If you don't want to risk it, you might consider crate training — requiring your pet to stay within her kennel - while you're out (or out of sight). Many puppies eventually find such mandates reassuring and view their kennels as cozy niches, safe havens from the world. (No, we haven't actually polled any puppies on the matter, but we know this is true from observing them.) The idea is to keep her confined safely while maintaining the rule about pooping and peeing outside your home. Here's how to do it:

Begin at mealtime, making a game of tossing kibble pieces into the kennel. This ensures she has a positive experience with her crate

Move toys into the forum, even hide a biscuit, to make the place fun

Once she's comfortable with the space, lock her in, but stay nearby reading or listening to music, talking to her in soothing tones. You don't want her to feel as though she's being punished

Slowly extend the amount of time she spends kenneled to meet your needs, but never ask her to stay in it for longer than she can hold her bladder or bowels

If you must keep your pup in the crate for extended periods, provide her ample room to do her business in the kennel, but ensure the space she is expected to soil is adjacent — not on top of — her resting place. (Most puppies do fine with a 15- to 30-square foot kennel.)

The Trickle That Makes You Prickle: Nervous Peeing and Your Puppy

In the world of dogs, there is a specific order of power. And though you don't have four legs, you will be in the role of alpha dog (provided your pup is well trained, that is). She should be submissive, in that she follows your rules. But for some youngsters, submissive behavior might mean wetting when they first see you. Don't scold your pet, as punishment makes the scenario worse. There are two options:

Teach your puppy to sit down when greeting people by rewarding her with a treat when she does so;

Line your hallway with newspaper and wait it out. Most puppies outgrow the problem.

No Puppy is Perfect: Expect Some Mistakes

Puppies are not considered fully housebroken until they've gone at least four consecutive weeks without eliminating in the house. And, yes, you can expect a few accidents. Remember this is a new skill for your pet and it takes time and patience to develop routines. Until you're in the clear, try the following strategies to minimize messes:

Keep your little one within eyesight at all times

Prop up baby gates to control your pet's movements

Kennel your pup when she's unsupervised

Become a Cleaning Machine: Take Care of That Carpet

If your puppy does pee or poop on the floor, it is imperative you thoroughly remove any potty odors. If the scent lingers, your pet will continue to return to the area to mark her territory. Remember to:

Use a commercial product specifically designed for doggy smells

Saturate any contaminated area with the product

Keep your puppy out of any rooms where continual accidents occur

Being the Heavy: How to Discipline While Housebreaking

Be ready with disciplinary strategies before your pup has an accident. Remember, this is tough work for her, so be gentle in your reprimand. A nasty voice may scare her into thinking she shouldn't void in front of you, even outside. Instead, try this:

If you catch her in the act, provide a startling distraction like stomping your foot or saying ''No!'' loudly. Then, correct the behavior by taking her immediately outside to her potty place. If she continues to go, praise her effusively;

Scold your pet only once, then drop it. There will be plenty of other opportunities to practice;

Despite the old cliché, never rub a puppy's nose in her own waste. This will serve only to scare her. Besides, it is simply unkind.

Keep On Trying: Your Puppy Will Succeed!

Yes, the process of housebreaking your puppy will try your patience. But know the majority of pups get the idea pretty fast, providing you offer them consistent rules and praise. While you're waiting, remind yourself that housebreaking is a skill, like reading and writing, which demands the alignment of both mind and body. If all else fails remember this: Puppies are ultimately irresistible and you won't be able to stay angry for long.

ERBEKEES-KEESHONDEN 433 Gunter Hollow RD Fayetteville, TN. 37334 931-557-8884 or 814-691-4902