House training is the number one or number two topic of interest for bringing dogs into our home.
Nothing is more distressing than finding a present left by our pup especially if we find it with bare feet! Whether it is number one or number two, it is a mess and we have to clean it up. The next thought we may have is, “What am I doing wrong in house training with this dog that he insists on messing in my floor?” We blame ourselves instead of our sweet little pup, but what if the blame is shared? Can we really teach a wild animal to live in a civilized manner? Of course, we can.
Pups are a lot like toddlers.
Parenting is not for the weak.
Dogs, as with toddlers, can spot a weak leader in a heartbeat. You must stand your ground and enforce the rules. Once you do, dogs and most kids will follow. There is a hierarchy that dogs understand by nature and it has to be established in your home. This goes for more than just house-training.
Follow the leader.
Showing your dog who is boss is probably the most important thing you can do as a pet owner, especially when it comes to house training. Dogs don’t just give respect, it must be earned. The top dog is the leader. If you want a peaceful home, you must lead. In our home, my husband is the top dog. I’m second and Michael is third. Oliver is the beagle; he’s the low man on the totem pole. He has not always followed that order. At first, Oliver thought he was the leader, but Teddy bumped him down. Then Oliver thought he was second in line, I bumped him down. For a long time, Michael let Oliver bite on his hands and tug on him, never really hard or anything. Oliver had the upper hand and he knew it. Michael did not want to be mean to Oliver so he let him have his way. Oliver got more and more aggressive. We kept telling Michael he had to stand up and take his place in the pack or Oliver would keep it up. Finally, one night Oliver snapped at our son’s ear. Michael realized after his dog really bit his ear that it had gone on long enough.
Establish boundaries and territory.
Know his limits.
A good rule of thumb for how long a dog can hold his need to potty is one hour per month old for puppies. A six-month-old puppy is just able to be considered reliable in the potty department. Eight hours is max a full-grown dog should be expected to hold it. Although, he may go longer while sleeping at night. Oliver goes to bed at 8:00 and gets up about 7:00. That’s a full eleven hours and he doesn’t rush out to potty in the morning. He usually wants to eat first, then go outside. I guess his belly is more important to him.
Set a schedule.
For dogs to become reliable in-house training, you must set expectations and a regular schedule. He will need to go outside or to his paper or potty box:
- after eating
- after playing
- after sleeping/nap
- first thing in the morning
- last thing at night
Your puppy should be eating 2 to 3 times per day depending on age. See the dog food bag for recommendations of amount and times per day. Divide the amount over the entire day. Your puppy should pee-pee each time you take him out. However, he may only poo 2 to 3 times per day depending on how many times you feed him.
Choose a potty spot.
Whether you are using outside, potty paper, or a litter box, take your pet to his spot to potty. Be consistent. Be on time. Now encourage him with a cue word or phrase. I say to Oliver, “Want to go outside?” He understands it is potty time. I open the door if it is not already open. He goes out and hops through his doggie door. I say, “Go pee-pee.” He runs out to his spot and pee-pees. Then I say, “Go poo-poo.” He walks around a bit to find the perfect spot and then does his business. It works really great for me because I can leave my door open to the screened back porch and he can come and go on his own most days when the weather is nice. On days when the weather is not so great, Oliver will go to the door and sniff. I usually keep an eye on him for his cue. I’ll ask if he needs to go outside. If he does, he will sit on the mat at the door and wait for me to open it. If he was just snooping around and did not need to go outside, he will walk away from the door or go play with a chew toy. He is about eight months old.