Scheduling Puppy's Dinnertime
Controlling your puppy's feeding schedule provides some control over its elimination schedule. Most will eliminate within predictable time after eating, usually within the first hour. Because of this, it is best to avoid feeding a large meal just before confinement. Offer food two or three times each day at the same times, and make it available for no longer than 30 minutes. The last meal should be finished three to five hours before bedtime.
The most challenging part of the housetraining process is preventing your pup from eliminating indoors. Until it is housetrained, you will need to provide constant supervision. You should not consider your puppy housetrained until it has gone for at least four to eight consecutive weeks without eliminating anywhere in the home. Until your pup accomplishes this, keep it within eyesight of a family member 100 percent of the time. A leash is a handy tool to keep your puppy nearby when you are preoccupied and it might wander away. When you are unable to provide constant supervision because you are busy, sleeping, or away from home, confine your pup to a relatively small, safe area. Always take your puppy out to eliminate just before confinement. A wire or plastic crate provides an excellent area in which to confine your puppy when you cannot observe it. A crate has some limitations. Do not use it for longer than your puppy can physically control elimination or for more than four hours during the day. Most puppies will quickly adapt to the crate if you make training fun. Feeding in the crate, tossing toys inside for the pup to chase, and hiding treats in there should all encourage your puppy to look forward to being in the crate. If your puppy is home alone each day for long periods, confine it to a larger area such as a small room or exercise pen. The area should provide enough space for it to eliminate if necessary and to rest several feet away from a mess. For easier cleaning, place paper at the site where it is likely to eliminate. It is important to associate good things with the confinement area, rather than making it solely an isolation area. Spend some time in the play area playing with your puppy or simply reading nearby as it rests there.
Returning to the Scene of the Crime
To help prevent your puppy from returning to previously soiled areas, remove urine and fecal odor with an effective commercial product. Saturate areas of soiled carpeting with odor-neutralizing products-merely spraying the surface is not as effective. If your puppy begins eliminating in certain areas of the home, deny access to these areas by closing doors to rooms, using baby gates, or moving furniture over the soiled areas. Motion alarms will teach your puppy to avoid an area. Most pets avoid eliminating in areas where they eat or play. Feeding or placing water bowls, bedding, and toys in previously soiled areas can discourage eliminating at those spots.
Keeping your Cool
No puppy has ever been housetrained without making a mistake or two. Be prepared for the inevitable. It does not help to become frustrated and harshly discipline your puppy. Punishment is the least effective and most overused approach to housetraining. A correction should involve nothing more than a mild, startling distraction and should be used only if you catch your puppy in the act of eliminating indoors. A quick stomp of the foot, loud clap, tug on the leash, or abrupt No (given with enough intensity to interrupt the behavior without frightening your puppy) is all that is necessary. Immediately take your pup to its elimination area outdoors to finish. A correction that occurs more than a few seconds after your puppy eliminates is useless because it will not understand why it is being corrected. If the punishment is too harsh, it may learn not to eliminate in front of you, even outdoors, and you run the risk of ruining the bond with your puppy. And don't even think about rubbing its nose in a mess. There is absolutely nothing it will learn from this, except to be afraid of you.
Some pets will squat and urinate as they greet family members. Never scold them. This problem is due typically to either nervousness or excitement, and scolding will always make the problem worse. With a little patience and a consistent approach, your puppy will be as housetrained as the rest of your family.