Waking up and stepping into a puddle is something that most puppy owners experience until the puppies are house trained. Dogs 8 weeks of age can urinate hourly while awake. As soon as a puppy arrives to our home, our first task is to supervise and encourage the dog to eliminate in a specified spot. Dogs that are not given any orientation will choose a spot that they prefer.
The best time to start training a dog to eliminate on the preferred surfaces is between 7,5 and 8,5 weeks. This is the time when puppies develop preferences and will actively search for the chosen substrate. Do not delay house training for longer than 10 weeks. After the puppy is 10 weeks of age, fear starts to develop and he or she can be uncomfortable to eliminate in a new environment, e.g. outside.
Here are some tips to help your puppy:
- Take your puppy once an hour outside to do his/her needs, 15 to 30 minutes after he/she eats or immediately the puppy wakes up. Puppies have a fast metabolism and a small bladder, so they need to go frequently.
- Once you are outside, concentrate on the job, keep the dog on a short lead, do not play with him/her until your puppy is done. Allow sniffing as it plays an important role in the ritual. After your pet is done, reward him with time outside to explore.
- If your dog is too excited to be outside and cannot concentrate, pace on a short lead back and forth, this will speed up the process.
- Once the puppy is done praise and is very proud of the dead.
- If the dog is outside off the leash, stand still and do not interact with your dog until the job is done.
- At home watch for signs that indicate the puppy is searching for a place to urinate. Pacing, whining, sniffing could be some of the indicators.
- If your pup starts to leak once you lift him/her, place a cloth in the genital’s area, this will stimulate inhibition.
- If you have an older dog who is already house trained, take him/her with on walks. Puppies learn quicker by copying other’s behaviour.
Teaching your dog to eliminate on a paper or in a litter box is not encouraged, as the puppy will develop preferences to eliminate on a paper and actively seek for the spot. Even a house trained dog can later pee on a newspaper left accidentally on the floor because this is how he/she was taught as a puppy. However, we understand that being at home all the time for the first few months is for most dog owners not possible. If your dog has to do his or her needs at home then the newspaper or box should stand far from the food bowl as most dogs do not eliminate at the same place where they eat. A preferred place is close to the doors. The methodology is the same as described above when bringing the dog outside, just in this case bringing the puppy to the spot/ litter box. If your dog has problems to find the right spot, placing a sponge soaked in urine or pieces of drops on the preferred area might help your puppy.
If your doggy stays in a crate when you are away, make sure that the crate is big enough so that a bed, food, water bowls, toys and litter box fits. The litter box should be placed as far away from the bowls as possible.
Punishment of the puppy for him/her eliminating in a wrong spot is counterproductive. If you do not catch the dog on the spot and scold on him even a minute after, the puppy will not understand the reason he/she gets punished. Your rough behaviour can make your dog scared of you and even trigger fear, submission urination. However, if you catch the moment your puppy squats, give a negative cue to startle your dog, eg NO, Ouch, clap your hands or make a loud step. If the dog stops peeing, pick him/her up, hold a cloth under the belly and quickly bring him/her outside and praise for doing it in the right spot.
Normally dogs are completely house trained with 6 months. Small breed dogs and females may take slightly longer to do their needs outside but if your dog is older than 6 months, you should look for other reasons, medical or behavioural, why he or she still accidentally pees or poops at home. Keep in mind that puppies that are not done with their vaccinations should avoid contact with other dogs, their faeces or urine as this might be a source of infection for your puppy.