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House Training Puppies

You will need:

  • A crate - Only large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around comfortably in.
  • A schedule - For going outside. (Have treats and lead ready at the door!)
  • Treats - For whenever you go outside with your puppy.
  • Good Observation - To prevent accidents.
  • Patience.

1. Crate

Train your puppy to love his crate by throwing treats in his crate for a few days so that he has to go in. After a few goes, close the door for 1 minute, then open and let out. Practise a few more goes of the puppy going in and out freely. (This can be over a day or a few days.) Every few goes, practise closing the door, increasing the amount of time the pup must stay inside, by a few minutes.

Never open the door if your pup is whining or barking to get out! This will teach him that whining will work to get out. Wait for your pup to quieten (even if only for a few seconds) then open the door - ONLY when he is quiet. When a puppy is crate trained properly, he will go there automatically when tired or just wanting to be alone.

Crate your puppy whenever you are away or can't actively supervise, e.g. when you're busy around the house, sleeping etc. This will make him hold on to his bowels/bladder, as it is a dog's natural instinct not to soil his own bed. If your puppy is not in his crate, he should not have free run of your home. You must be constantly aware of what he is doing. Another option is to leash or tether him to you. If you are working in one room, you can move the crate with you and crate your pup. This way he can still be in the same room as you.

2. Schedule

Provide your pup with a set schedule for eating and for going outside. A typical example follows:

  • First thing in the morning.
  • Whenever your pup wakes from a nap.
  • A few minutes after each meal.
  • After any exercise/playtime/vigorous moving.
  • Every 30-90 minutes.
  • Last thing at night before crating for the night.

When taking your pup outside, from his crate, take him straight out. Do not stop to pet or play! Take your pup outside, on his lead, to the same spot each time so he begins to associate the area with going to the toilet. Do not interact with him while there. If nothing happens after 5 minutes, bring him back into the house and crate him for 30 minutes. Then try again. If/when he eliminates, praise and reward. (See below.)

3. Treats

Every time your pup eliminates outside, you should lavish him with enthusiastic praise during the act and follow with a food treat. You want him to build the association between eliminating and good things happening. Follow his eliminating with a game, inside or outside, or a walk. Have good things always follow his 'going'. Your pup can be allowed some free time in your house (still supervised!), as you know he is 'safe' and 'empty'.

(If you find that praise makes him stop in the middle of his act, then save it until just after he finishes.)

4. Observation

Dogs give off signals just before eliminating. Learn these. Common behaviours include your pup being restless, circling a few times, sniffing and squatting into position for a few seconds before eliminating! When you see these signs, get your pup out. Have treats and lead ready at the door. If he has already begun, interrupt him with a sharp sound to hopefully prevent him from finishing. Urgently say "Outside" and get him there as quickly as possible. Stay there for the 5-minute period and praise and treat if he goes. If not, bring him back inside and either crate or supervise for another try later.

5. Patience.

Don't lose your cool. In fact, losing your patience with your pup can scare your pup into not wanting to go in your presence, inside or outside. Most pups will have accidents, especially in the beginning of training. But since your pup will only be loose in the house when he is 'empty' these accidents should be few and far between! If he has an accident in the house and you did not see it happen, do not punish him after the fact - this is useless and can be detrimental. It is not the pup's fault - you need to tighten up on supervision. Clean up accidents with a commercial odour neutralizer (enzymatic) or 50% vinegar to water. You want to get rid of the smell completely - especially to your dog who will return to 'go' at that same spot, if there is any trace of a smell.

If you work all day:

Obviously you cannot put your pup in a crate all day. You must however, confine your dog to a small room where s/he cannot get into trouble. A downstairs toilet or utility room are good examples. Your dog does not need and indeed, should not have, the freedom of your whole house or even a large room. When you are not around your pup does not do much more than sleep all day. If given room to roam, s/he is teaching himself bad habits without anyone to tell him otherwise. So, a small room, with newspaper at one end for your dog to do his business. At the other end of the room is his crate (open door) with a comfy blanket in it, some chewies and fluffy toys and a small bowl of water. Your dog should urinate on the newspaper, leaving you to train, as above, when you are at home.

Crate and Confinement Training

Begin crate and/or dog-proofed confinement practice right away - first day home. Start with a few minutes and build up. Put the dog in the crate using small, tasty food treats. Do not let the dog out if he's whining or barking. He will quickly learn that this gets him out. Wait for a break of even a few seconds.

Put crate next to sofa, rent video and keep dog in crate next to you while he works on stuffed Kongs and other chewies (pig's ears, bones etc.) If using confinement area, hang out with dog there, reading while dog works chewies. The first two or three times the dog is left alone in the crate or confinement area, he should be tired (just exercised), the time should be short (15-30 minutes) and he should have a good chewy. The crate is always a positive space. Never, never use the crate as punishment.

Mission Statement

MADRA is a Connemara based dog rescue & re-homing facility whose ultimate and overall aim is to ensure that all dogs have permanent, loving homes. MADRA works to educate members of the general public to have a responsible attitude towards dogs and their welfare and to help create a world where no healthy, good-natured dogs are killed merely because they are considered to be a surplus number.

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