Housebreaking is both the worst and perhaps the most important step in training a pup. Since this should begin the first day in your pups "new home", housebreaking sets the harmony in the pup/owner relationship. Take heart this stage only lasts about a week.
Let's name our pup now. Don't try to change the name later. They learn their name VERY quickly. A good example of this is "Snow". Snow as you might guess is solid white with very few tan "ticks". Krissy our 9-year-old granddaughter named her. That night Alfred said, "Snow is not a good name since it sounds like "NO", a key word in training any pup." We tried to change it but by the time we all agreed on a new name it was too late. Snow knew she was Snow. And by the way she knows the difference between Snow and No. Your tone of voice lets her know. I never knew a dog could distinguish between like sounds so well!
Everyone in the household should be involved in this project. Read this to all in a group setting and discuss it.
(1) 3 FEEDING DISHES
Decide where Snow's dishes will be set out. 1 for water, 1 for dry food, and 1 for wet food.
(2) DOORMAT SIZE CARPET SQUARE
The carpet square is to set them on. This saves a lot of clean up. You can pick up quality carpet 'samples' at your local carpet store. They are reasonably priced with bound edges and look good.
(3) DECIDE WHICH DOOR YOU WILL USE AND WHERE YOU WANT HER TO LEARN TO POTTY. It is difficult to change Snow's routine but not impossible. Try not to change things in the first few weeks.
(4) SHIPPING KENNEL-ONE SIZE LARGER THAN THE ONE SHE CAME IN. IT "FITS" NOW. This is to be her own little secure place. Switch Snow to this clean new Kennel her first day. Don't change it again until you notice it isn't roomy enough, app. 6 weeks. She will think of this as her own little get-away place. Snow opens the door, goes in and closes the door, taking her teddy bear with her.
(5) SNOW NEEDS TOYS.
A small stuffed animal, balls, a squeak toy, yes they love these, definitely a new rawhide "bone", and a small toy box or basket. She must learn there are things she can and cannot play with. If, no change that to when, she gets something she should not, take it away, a firm NO, and give her one of her toys. Yes, Snow learns where her toy box is and will even learn to put her toys up.
(6) TASTY BAGS OF TREATS
Treats are for things accomplished. It is for reward of anything done right. Each time you 'kennel' her, teach her to sit, stay, heal, down, etc. In other words you'll always need treats handy. You may as well put these in assorted containers or tins anywhere you are likely to be with her. On the table by your recliner, you'll find out where it's handy. Alfred teaches them to sit the first thing when he brings one in. This is the easiest thing to teach Snow, you just say 'sit' and push gently down on her back end. Give her a treat. She catches on quick.
(7) A COLLAR THAT FITS NOW & THE NEXT SIZE UP
You'll be surprised how soon you will change her collar. Each time you change it buy the next size. Buy a lead that's made of cord not chain. On day 2 snap it on her collar and let her drag it about behind her and play with it. When it catches on something she'll figure it out and learn it won't hurt her. By the third day she will "lead" almost immediately. Do not pull. A dog will automatically balk when pulled. No pulling is necessary, just a tug will do. "Snow; come, Snow; good girl". She likes it! Treat!
(8) SPRAY, LYSOL OR DOG AWAY TYPE DISINFECTANT
(NOTE: Isn't modern technology wonderful? In such a short time they have invented 'FeBreeze" and assorted generics. This stuff is great for eliminating 'return to the place or origin' of puppy accidents!) I have one rocker Snow tried to chew on several times. The spray will last several days. Spray the spot each time you catch her at it, tell her NO and give her the rawhide bone. This works quickly but do not be discouraged when it happens again. As I say it may happen 3 or 4 times, it is usually something that she notices while playing with something else. Like the rocker foot that angles up a few inches from the floor and her ball rolls into it.
(9) DON'T LET HER ON THE FURNITURE TO START WITH.
Sure she's cute and tiny now but she grows! Tell the kids to sit on the floor with her in their lap. One day she'll leap onto the sofa on her own anyway. At least you wont feel guilty because you once let her lay beside you. Once this starts you'll have to tug on her ear firmly and say a definite NO. By now she's pretty cocky and it will take more than once.
Now to the point of this article. The dreaded house breaking!! Which you will see is not so dreadful if done consistently.
Do not leave a dish down at all times (yet) with food or water. Don't worry you can later.
Give Snow moistened food and water at the same time. Let her eat all she wants at one time, you'll quickly learn how much she wants.
When she stops take up the bowls.
Take her out immediately the first few times. After the second day start letting her tell you when she is ready to go out. Watch her. Let her mosey around. The dishes are up. Now keep your eye on her. Within minutes she seems to be looking for something (it isn't her bowl). When she makes a circle or sniffs about she is ready to potty.
Pick her up gently and quietly. Speak soothingly. Use the correct door (not the closest) you have distracted her; she can hold it. Go out with her, taking her well away from the door in a fairly straight line. Where she potties the first time is pretty much where she will always go. She is marking her territory.
Let her take her own time. You should have grabbed a jacket. Don't talk to her; you'll only distract her from her purpose. She has to check out everything. Is she ever going to get around to it? Yes! It's about time! BE QUIET! Let her do both jobs! Finally! "Good Job, Snow!" Pat, Praise, and Cuddle while you're headed back to the door. When you're back in give her a treat.
Yes, it is important to accompany her for the first few times, especially in cold weather. She needs the reassurance that she is not going to be left out. After all she just lost one mother. She has been warm and cozy in the house too. You are also teaching her the main purpose of going outside. You're teaching her she can go out for a purpose and come right back in. Different family members can do this as long as it's done in the same routine.
She will seldom poop at any other time than after feeding, BUT she will do the other. Watch for circling, that's always a good hint. NO! SNOW! (Distraction) Talk to her and take her outside, even if she has already voided. Of course in this case don't wait a long time outside for her to do it again, you're just reminding her of where this should be done. On returning to the house there is no treat for this trip unless she did a job. Take her back to the incriminating spot, clean it and spray the spot, she'll smell at it, say a gentle but firm NO and let her go on her way. If you find a spot and don't know when it happened, clean it, spray it, grumble if you must, and go on YOUR way.
Keep the bowls empty, but on her feeding mat. She'll quickly conform to your feeding schedule. Feed her pre-soaked food and only in the amount she will eat at one time. This can and will sour and is very bad on her digestive system. Feed this 'full meal' first thing in the morning and at early evening for the first week or so. Water when you feel a need for a drink. After the housebreaking is done you may leave the water and dry feed down for them, its good for their teeth and satisfies their craving.
In the main kennel we keep dry feed in front of all the dogs at all times and feed soaked feed in the morning and late afternoon to the pups.
Just remember to watch her. Oh no, the phone rang at the exact time she need out! Just pick her up. At least you know where she is. Now head for the door.
Soon you can lead her to the door. Let her follow you. Talk to her. Use her name. Lead her out, go to the window, watch, when both jobs are done call Snow in and praise her.
Give her a treat. Snow very quickly gets the routine down. My Snow as it often happens doesn't bark to go out. Each pup does its own thing, I'm afraid, to let you know when it wants out. It's up to you to learn what it is. Jack, our older pup who also has the run of the house, stands with both paws on either side of the doorknob looking back at me like I'm the one who is as dumb as dirt for not knowing what he wants! Each pup, like each child, is different. Jack will also do the same thing at whatever door I'm closest to. I still open the door I want him to use, that's O.K. with him and he stays out until HE'S ready to come in. Here I assume you have a fenced yard to leave them unattended in.
As they learn to go to the door to go out they also learn to come to the door to get back in. Now you let Snow out on her signal, forget her for a while and let her in on her signal. If you think it's about time for her to go out and you have something else to do; go ahead and let her out, let her play and let her in when she wants. We keep an automatic feeder and water in the yard for them now.
YOU'VE GOT IT MADE! Leave dry food down in one bowl all the time now. Judge by your own pups consistent success as to when to begin leaving water out. By the way, teach everyone to leave the lid down on the stool.
I've never used newspaper. I never let a pup touch newspaper, what a mess. That is a definite NO thing.
By the way, do not punish Snow by using her "kennel home". This is her secure place. She sleeps all night thru here.
If you need to go somewhere and the weather is too bad for her to stay outside; after you feed, water and potty snow; give her a treat, walk her to her kennel, let her go in; give her a toy, a chew bone and another treat. Water really isn't necessary unless you're going to be gone a l-o-n-g time. You can place the kennel outside if you wish, with the door open. When you return set out her food and water dishes, release her, if she wants to potty first she will let you know, if not she will eat and then want out. Keep in mind that she is healthy and well fed and won't starve to death in 6 or 8 hours and this way she won't be uncomfortable, needing to potty while confined. They most certainly do not want to potty in their own bed. But it can happen. She'll let you know in no uncertain terms. If she really barks at an odd time it surely means she really needs out.
Now you can sit back in your recliner. Remember you're the one who brought Snow into your household and like any child they sometimes have priority.