When a new puppy arrives in the house, it’s an exciting time for everyone. In order for the homecoming to proceed as smoothly as possible, it’s a good idea to spend a little bit of time in preparation.
One of the major challenges of dog ownership (particularly for first-time owners) is the issue of house training. If you equip yourself with some rudimentary knowledge and a positive attitude, though, it’s a lot easier than most people make it out to be.
The New Arrival
As soon as you bring the puppy home, take her outside. The excitement of the car journey coupled with the unfamiliar faces, sights, and sounds will have her needing to go anyway – and if you can orchestrate her first toilet break so that it occurs outside, instead of inside, then so much the better. And not just from the perspective of short-term hygiene, either – the more your puppy relieves herself inside, the more likely she is to do it again.
The homecoming is a great opportunity for you to set a precedent for toilet behavior!
– Take her to your designated toilet area, and put her down on the grass.
– Wait while she sniffs around – refrain from petting her or playing with her just yet, because you don’t want her to forge an association between this area and games. She has to learn that this part of the yard is for toilet breaks only.
– When she begins to relieve herself, say the phrase you want her to associate with toilet breaks: “Go pee” or “potty time” or whatever works for you. It’s best if that phrase is short and easily recognizable – and use the same voice inflection each time, too (so that your dog can easily memorize the meaning of the phrase.)
– When she’s done, make a big fuss over her: shower her in praise and affection, and give her a little treat.
When you take her inside the house, the house training regime you’ve decided upon should start immediately.
As far as house training goes, crate training is generally accepted to be the most effective and efficient means of house training a puppy in a short space of time.
What is crate training?
Crate-training is essentially the use of a small indoor kennel (the crate) to confine your young puppy when you’re not actively supervising her.
How does it work?
Crate training is based on all dogs’ inherent dislike of soiling the area where they sleep. Because you’re restricting your puppy’s movement to her sleeping space, she’ll instinctively “hold it in” until she’s let out of the crate (provided you don’t leave her in there too long, of course!)
This is why it’s important that the crate is sized properly: if it’s too big, she’ll be able to use one end as a bed and one end as a toilet, which defeats the whole purpose!
How do I choose a crate?
As a general guideline, it’s more cost-effective for you to choose a crate that’s big enough for her to grow into. It should be big enough for the adult dog to stand up comfortably without crouching, turn around in, and stretch out – but no bigger (so that she doesn’t choose one part as her bed, and one part as her toilet!)
Because the adult dog is likely to be considerably larger than the puppy, it’ll most likely be necessary for you to use a barrier to reduce the internal size of the crate. A wire grille or board will do just fine.
Alternatively, you can use a cheap crate (or even make one yourself) and replace it with a larger model as your puppy grows.
Using the crate for house training
Crate training works like this: your puppy is in that crate at all times unless she’s sleeping, eating, outside with you going to the toilet, or being played with (active supervision.)
You’ll need to be consistent, or else it won’t work: you can’t let your puppy wander off through the house unless you’re focusing your complete attention on her.
If you allow her access to the house before she’s thoroughly house trained, you’re basically encouraging her to relieve herself inside – and remember, each time she does this, it’ll be easier for her to do it again (and again … and again …)
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