House Training

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Very few puppies are fully house-trained when they enter their new homes, and most owners are prepared for a period of extra cleaning when they take on a young pup. However, in many cases the process of house training is unnecessarily long and drawn out and there is considerable tension between pet and owner as a result. By following some simple rules and avoiding some of the more common mistakes you can maximize your chances of success, and make the whole process far less stressful for you and your puppy.

Timing is everything

It is important for your puppy to be in the right location when it feels the need to relieve itself. If you take your puppy outside when it is most likely to want to go to the toilet (after every meal, when it wakes up, after drinking and after play) you maximize the chances of it forming an appropriate association between being outside and relieving itself. Every time your puppy makes a mistake and goes to the toilet in the house it learns an inappropriate association and the process of house training is slowed down. Although it may sound drastic, setting an alarm for intervals of two hours during the day, and taking your puppy outside on a regular basis, can be one of the quickest and simplest ways of house training.

Reward works better than punishment!

If you ensure that you are with your young puppy when it is outside, you can give some form of reward to coincide with the process of toileting and thereby encourage him to see toileting in the garden as a good thing to do! Praise or food can be used but it is very important that the reward is given while the puppy is still outside and not once it is safely back in the house.

Never punish your puppy unless it is caught ‘in the act’!

Going to the toilet is a necessary and natural behaviour and any form of punishment in house training will lead to confusion. Rather than associate the punishment with the act of going to the toilet, the puppy will learn that its owner is displeased when it sees urine and faeces and will soon avoid toileting in front of them as a result. This can make the training process far more difficult and many owners will spend hours in the garden waiting for their puppy to relieve itself only to find that it runs back into the house to toilet on the lounge carpet. The puppy has learned that toileting in private is safer! When you return to find the mess and punish the pup it will react by cowering but this does not mean that the punishment is working. Rather than expressing guilt the puppy is showing submission in an attempt to deflect your anger and its behaviour has no association with the act of toileting, which occurred some time before. Rolled up newspapers, pushing puppies’ noses in excreta and screaming at them for being naughty are all inappropriate responses and ones that you should avoid at all costs.

Don’t clean up in front of your puppy

It can help to avoid cleaning up your puppy’s mistakes in front of it especially if you are feeling annoyed or frustrated. Your puppy is very aware of your body language and will be sensitive to your displeasure. Better to clean up out of the puppy’s sight to avoid any misinterpretation.

Don’t Despair!

Don’t be too down-hearted if occasional accidents occur along the way. There will always be the unforeseen occasion when your puppy will lose bladder control, particularly when he or she is very excited or nervous. Even with the best trained pups, the odd accident will happen, usually just when you thing that you’ve cracked house-training!