The Three C's of House-Training Your Pup
Jacque Lynn Schultz CPDT
In an ideal world, puppies come from a highly reputable source. where someone keeps the litter area clean at all times. A new care¬taker has a fenced in yard to which no other dogs have access, and a stay at-¬home schedule that allows frequent potty trips to that yard. Under these cir¬cumstances, most dogs are housebroken in only a few weeks. However, most of us live in the Real World.
In the Real World, our puppies may have spent enough time in a second rate facility, puppy mill or pet shop to become accustomed to lying in their waste, which makes crate training diffi¬cult. We may hold jobs that preclude a schedule compatible with a puppy's developmental needs, or live in housing without fenced in yards, thus forcing us to paper train until our pups are fully immunized.
The further a lifestyle varies from the ideal, the greater the challenge housebreaking is.
Real World housetraining requires a strategy based on three components:
Consistencv: a consistent walking, schedule catered to the dog's develop¬mental stage and individual preferences.
Confinement: a method that helps build bladder and bowel control.
Cleaning: a good enzymatic odor neutralizer to clean up accidents.
Pencil him in
What is a suitable schedule? Puppies can control themselves roughly one hour for each month of age up to nine or ten hours. At three and a half to four months, they can usually stay clean for six to seven hours overnight, but soil more frequently during the day. Three walks a day is fine for most dogs eight months or older.
A puppy usually needs to eliminate after waking, eating and exercising. Charting his output will help you pre¬dict his needs more accurately. Does he soil 5 or 15 minutes after dinner, 2 or 10 after walking?
For the first few weeks in a new home, a new puppy may seem like a pee-¬and poop machine, but as he matures and develops muscle tone, he will learn to control himself for longer periods between potty trips. Confinement, preferably in a training crate, builds con-trol by associating the pup's distaste for soiling in his special area with soiling inside the house in general. It is patently unfair to crate a pup for longer than he is physically able to control himself. In these cases, confine him to a small space such as a bathroom or kitchen with papers at one end and a bed and toys at the other, It slows the housebreaking process and confuses the dog a bit, but it is the best option short of hiring a pet sitter if no one can be home with the puppy during an average work day.
Whether using papers or a yard, the pup should wear a leash and collar and remain under your control. If you don’t acclimate the pup to your presence while he’s relieving himself, you may create a dog who won't soil in front of you, but waits until he's back in the house and can disappear behind the sofa or under the dining room table. Do not allow puppies access to carpeting, especially wall to wall, when it nears time to elimi¬nate, for they often return to and re¬anoint accidents here. Should an acci¬dent occur, get out the odor neutralizer immediately and clean, clean, clean.
For the average dog that's really all there is to housebreaking: well timed walks, confinement and a good cleaner when all else fails. It sounds so simple, but if it were, related problems wouldn't be rated number one on our Behavior Complaint hit parade.