House Training for Puppies

This is the number one priority. Many puppies will not have had any house training before they arrive at their new home. They will have lived in their kennel or box with their litter mates, but even there the sleeping area is usually taboo for toileting once the puppies are old enough to move around. This can be used during the course of house training.

There are two methods of teaching a puppy to use an appropriate site for its toilet, and they can be used simultaneously.

The first method involves eternal vigilance. Puppies squat to urinate and use a slightly more humped squat to defecate. As soon as the puppy postures to do either you must scoop him up and put him on the designated spot. If you miss the signs, do not scold the puppy. He doesn't yet know what he's supposed to do; he hasn't done anything wrong.

The second method is to use newspaper to cover the entire floor area on which the puppy runs. He will learn that newspaper is a suitable medium for his natural functions, and a gradual reduction in the size of the available newspaper will result in the puppy using a smaller and smaller area of floor. The theory is that you can then move the paper outside, and the puppy will continue to use it, until he learns that only outside the house is appropriate. Both methods work, one will suit one puppy better than another. A combination of the two by using the paper at night and extreme vigilance during the day, will usually produce the best results. Not uncommonly, older puppies may "unlearn" about toilet training. Some trigger will cause them to break their newly formed habit. Again, please don't punish them.

This is where a dog's instinct can be useful. A healthy dog will not soil its own bed. It can be extremely helpful, for all sorts of reasons, to teach a dog to use a cage as a bed, and this is one of them. If you make it comfortable, the dog will very quickly learn to regard it as his own place to retreat to when the world gets too complicated. If the puppy does "unlearn" his house training, let him sleep in the cage, and put him out into the garden in the required place immediately after you open the cage door.

The cage mustn't be a prison for the puppy, rather a refuge, but it is useful for him to learn that sometimes the door must be shut. Suitable treats, something extra tasty, will usually persuade him to accept it.

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