Yes. Your puppy is adorable. And yes, it’s fun to have him running about the house and sleeping in the bed at night, but unless you enjoy cleaning up after your bundle of fur when he poops and tee tees in the floor, you’ll need to house train him.
House training is probably the most important behavior to teach a new puppy. It’s your job to cultivate the pup’s natural instincts and help teach him where he can potty and what’s totally off limits. When puppies first begin to walk they naturally leave their “den” to eliminate. You, as the new owner, must provide an appropriate potty area, and timely trips outside, so the puppy can continue with their natural desire to leave their living area to potty. Many dogs, that never learn proper potty protocol, end up in shelters or turned out on the streets and homeless. There’s no reason for this to happen. It’s an easily trained behavior and with a little effort and consistency on your part, your puppy will be house trained in no time.
Prevention is Key
In order to prevent your puppy from ever having an accident you need to supervise your puppy whenever they aren’t in their crate. Keep them in either an enclosed area of your home or in a playpen where you can supervise their play. You can also have them on leash, with you, while you are walking about the house, or sitting and reading a book. Just make sure they cannot walk away and potty somewhere in the house.
A young puppy should be taken outside and given the chance to eliminate every two hours. It’s also necessary to give them the chance to potty outside after a play session and after they’ve had water. Typically, a puppy can hold it for as many hours as his age in months. For example, an eight-week-old puppy needs to go out every two hours. Just like us they can hold it for longer at night, because they are inactive, but they should still go out to potty about every four hours. By four months old, a puppy can hold it for four hours, and can usually sleep through the night.
Home Sweet Home
Puppies learn to love their crates fairly quickly. It’s natural for them to need a place of their own. In the wild, their den is a safe and comfortable retreat where they can get adequate rest without worry of becoming someone else’s meal. Young puppies need frequent naps, so several two-hour nap sessions, in the crate, spread out throughout the day are appropriate. Your pup should also sleep in the crate at night. Not only does the crate provide a cozy place for them to rest, but it also keeps them out of trouble when you are sleeping. A young pup is curious and has a need to chew. The vet bills can become enormous if your pup chewed and swallowed something during the night that becomes lodged in their gastrointestinal tract.
Steps to Introducing Your New Pup to the Crate:
- Dogs are naturally curious. Use this to your advantage when introducing your dog to their new crate. Set the crate up with the door open in a well-used part of your home. Most puppies and adult dogs will readily explore the inside of the crate on their own. If your pup is suspicious of the crate, drop a few treats into the crate for encouragement. Never force your pup to enter. Be ready to reward them whenever they venture inside. Don’t close the crate door yet but allow the puppy to enter and exit as they please, always rewarding them for entering the crate. As your pup is confidently visiting his crate, continue to reinforce by offering them tasty treats while inside.
- Feed your dog their regular meals in the crate, still keeping the door open. You’re building great associations for your dog and their new crate. Once your dog is eating in the crate, carefully close the door while they’re still eating. Stay near the crate. Open the door again while they are finishing the last bite. Now, you have introduced the closed door with no stress, and you’re ready to move to step three.
- Put some of your dog’s favorite treats or toys in the crate for them to discover. They’ll begin to check the crate often to see what wonderful goodies have appeared. Use food stuffed toys for your dog to enjoy as you start closing the door and adding duration. Increase the amount of time the door is closed very slowly so that your puppy is not anxious. Stay nearby and begin to take brief walks away from the crate and even very short steps out of sight.
- Pretty soon your dog will begin to go to the crate regularly. You can now begin building more time away from the crate with longer periods out of sight. Reward them each time you return or pass by the crate. Never use the crate as a place of punishment. Help them learn to love their crate time.
Remember to keep the crate door open when your dog is not confined, allowing him access to his home. Praise him when he goes inside voluntarily.
Helpful Tips for Crate Training:
- Don’t isolate your puppy in another room by themselves. Remember, this may be the first time they have been away from their mother and litter-mates. Keep their crate in a well-used area of the house. Most pups will whine at some point the first time they’re crated. It’s important that they learn it’s ok to be away from their family at times. If they don’t learn this now, they could develop anxiety disorders later.
- Don’t let your puppy out when they whine. Dogs continue to use behaviors that get them desired results. Just a few mishaps on your part and you can create quite a noisy dog that won’t stop whining. Only open the crate door to let them out when they’re quiet. They will soon learn that quiet and calm behavior opens the door.
- Make sure to give your dog a chance to go outside and empty their bladder before you put them in the crate. Then, be sure to give them plenty of opportunities to go outside for potty breaks during their time in the crate. If you notice your puppy waking up in the crate, take them out immediately before they have the chance to start whining or have an accident.
- Set an alarm at night so you can wake up and take your puppy out before they wake up.
- It’s very important that you be observant of your puppy. If you hear a whine that you think isn’t typical, give them the opportunity to go outside and eliminate. You want to prevent an accident at all costs. After the potty break, place them back in the crate. Don’t give them time to play.
- Reward your puppy every time you put them in their crate by giving them a treat. This makes a positive association with the crate.
- To put the behavior of going in their crate on cue, start by saying the cue every time you put them in the crate. When you place the treat on the floor and the dog starts to walk in, say “Kennel! Good kennel! Good dog!” You can use any cue you choose.
- When you take your puppy out first thing in the morning, pick them up and go straight outside to your chosen potty spot. Once they’re older, you can start letting them walk from their crates outside so they learn the route to the appropriate spot. Make sure you still run to the door once you let the puppy out. They just woke up and have to go!
Whether your dog is a seasoned professional when it comes to house training, or new to the business, they’ll enjoy a new crate as their own space. If they’ve never had a crate before you’ll want to follow along with the puppy training procedures in this guide to properly introduce them to their new space. If you’re welcoming a new adult dog into your home and don’t know if they have previous house-training experience, follow the steps in this guide to get them started on the path to success!
A Few Things to Remember About Crate Training:
- Take a puppy straight outside every time you take them out of the crate.
- Never scold or punish your dog while inside the crate.
- Never force your dog into the crate.
- Keep the crate door open when your dog is not confined, allow them to access their home.
- Praise them when they go inside voluntarily.
- At times, put your dog in the crate to rest while you’re in the room with them.
- Never allow children or guests to taunt or tease your dog while inside the crate.
- Never clean your dog’s crate while they are watching you.
- Never lock your dog in the crate with a collar on or leash attached.
- Never overuse your crate. Dogs need exercise and to be a part of the family.
For tips on how to handle an accident in the house or crate, visit the Oopsy! There’s a Poopsy! blog post.