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Help! My puppy isn’t house trained!

December 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Behavior

help house train my puppyWe often hear new puppy owners express concern about their puppy’s apparent inability to catch on to house training. Today’s call was from the owner of a 7-month old neutered male dachshund.  Here are some of the tips we suggested:

  1. Use the “umbilical cord” method–this means keeping his leash on and attaching it either to your belt or a chair, thus restricting his free-range. A dog who is not house-trained should not be allowed to have free-range of the home because the potential for an accident is too great. We must set them up to succeed–and this means not even allowing them the opportunity to have an accident!
  2. Supervise constantly! An accident can occur in just a fraction of a second, so if you’re busy talking on the phone or cleaning up the kitchen, you may not be able to watch your puppy closely. This is where crate training is so helpful. Put your puppy in its kennel until you can pay more direct attention to him.
  3. You must be present when you take the puppy outside to potty–you can’t just let him out in the backyard and praise him when he comes back in. They need instant gratification–it’s like a party when he goes in the right place! Use a really happy voice and give him 3 little treats in quick succession! “Wow, that was really great, you are such a smart puppy!”
  4. If the puppy must be left alone longer than we can reasonably expect him to “hold it”, we must create a long-term confinement area. This is usually a small room such as a bathroom or laundry room that is puppy-proofed. Set your puppy’s crate in here and leave the crate door open. Offer an appropriate potty area. I recommend offering a litterbox with grass or sod in it. There’s nothing else in the house like this (unlike puppy pee pads, which can resemble carpet), so it helps teach him that grass is the best type of surface to relieve himself on.

Most importantly, be consistent, be persistent, and be patient! Good luck!

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