House training a new puppy requires commitment, patience and consistency/routine. Your puppy will do best on a schedule. They will soon learn when it is time to eat, sleep play and potty. The following are a few tips that I followed to successfully train my four-week old great pyrenees/border collie mix. It was trial and error but with minimal mishaps along the way.
I opted for house training rather than puppy pads. The latter was just not an option for me. House training fit my lifestyle. Being the neat/clean freak I am, I just couldn’t imagine having soiled puppy pads strewn about. However, if you do not have a flexible work schedule and require eight hours of sleep at night, then this method may not be the best choice for you. Since my Baylie was just 4 lbs. when she came into my world, I figured it would be just fine to leave her in the great room at night; free to roam even though she had a crate. Big mistake! You will wake up to mishaps if you choose this route.
Nighttime Kennel Training
By far, nighttime kennel training proved to be the best method for potty training Baylie. The first few nights in a new home, a puppy will whimper when left alone in a kennel until they get used to their new surroundings. I admit, I succumbed to Baylie’s whimpers and put her in the bed with me. I don’t recommend continuing this practice for more than a couple of nights. After a few minutes in the crate, most puppies will become calm and go to sleep. Place in the kennel, a comfy bed or blankets for your pet to nest along with their favorite toy. We all know how puppies like to chew so no toys that may pose a choking hazard. Do not place a puppy pad or food in the kennel. You want to instill in your pet that this is their sleeping place, not their potty or eating place. Make this space their lair; a safe place they will associate with good things.
Frequency – Nighttime
Rule of thumb is a puppy can control their bladder approximately. one hour for every month of age. That proved to be accurate for Baylie. So, be prepared to wake up multiple times during the night to escort your puppy outside for potty breaks. It took just a few weeks for my little one to realize potty is for outdoors in the grass and not indoors. Yes, you will be exhausted for the first few weeks, but the reward is worth the effort. Many nights I found myself looking up at the stars in the backyard waiting for Baylie to potty. Make sure you don’t make a big deal of your pet completing the task, otherwise, they will misconstrue potty time as play time at 3:00 a.m. This was exactly the case with Baylie. She would begin running around the yard and barking; trying to get me to join in the fun. It was a challenge to break this behavior, but she finally caught on.
Frequency – Daytime
Frequency of potty breaks during the day is similar. When a puppy wakes up, they want to potty whether it is during the nighttime hours or daytime. It wasn’t long before I realized that Baylie needed to potty after play and shortly after meals, as well. Scheduled feeding can minimize the need for elimination. If you free feed your puppy, be prepared for numerous potty breaks. I started Baylie out with four small meals a day in the beginning. However, she was very young when she was found on the side of the road; estimated to be just four weeks old by the vet. Her little tummy couldn’t tolerate large meals. As she grew, I adjusted the schedule and the amount. Consult your veterinarian for the proper feeding schedule for the age and breed of your pet.
Command and Reward
Make sure that you give a command to your puppy when you take them outdoors to potty during the early puppy stages and reward them when the deed is complete. I always use the words “go potty” as Baylie steps out the back door. Some “experts” recommend that you take your dog on a leash and encourage them to go to the same general location each time. Since I have a large, fenced back yard, I allow Baylie to go on her own without a leash. When she has completed her deed, I verbally reward her with a “good girl”.
Final Stages – Bliss
Within a short time, your puppy should be able to last most of the night without requiring a potty break. It was a no-brainer that the earlier I put Baylie in her kennel at night, the earlier I would hear that little whimper coming from the crate letting me know it’s potty time.
At two years old, Baylie has her potty routine down to a science. She usually lets me know when she needs to go by barking or nudging the blinds on the back door. The training paid off, as there is no longer a need to crate Baylie at night. She understands the routine; one last potty run outside, lights out in the house, kiss on the head followed by “good night Baylie” and she is out like a light. Now that Baylie is past her puppy destruction phase and is completely house trained, there is no need to crate her at night.
Things to consider when crate training:
- Don’t leave your dog in the crate too long. A dog that’s crated day and night doesn’t get enough exercise or human interaction and can become depressed or anxious. You may have to change your schedule, hire a pet sitter, or take your dog to a doggie daycare facility to reduce the amount of time he must spend in his crate every day.
- Puppies under six months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for that long. The same goes for adult dogs that are being house trained.
- Crate your dog only until you can trust him not to destroy the house. After that, it should be a place he goes voluntarily. ”
~Humane Society of the United States