Good Housekeeping: Puppy Edition. Housebreaking your New Pup
By Ryan Eder
Regardless of what kind of dog you have, one of the most popular discussions in dog training involves puppy training. From veterinary related topics, to basic training and so on, I still feel the most popular topic is how to properly house train your new puppy. The reason I like to discuss this with all of my clients in such detail is because a new puppy requires so much attention. Most of us work day jobs (or night) and do not have the luxury of working from home (some of us do). With this in mind, it is often an afterthought of “who will let the dog out”?
We constantly rush home to minimize the time a puppy spends inside without being let out for potty breaks; we get up in the middle of the night (sometimes several times) to ensure the pup gets chances to relieve themselves NOT in the house. As great as a new puppy is, they are quite demanding in reference to our daily schedule and routine, so the quickest road to a house trained dog is critical to most.
I have a few simple items that I swear by when it comes to house training a puppy (I have taken these concepts from other trainers who have helped me over the years). I am happy to share them with you in this article.
Monitor food and water
A young puppy has a very small bladder, and food will not take long to make its way through (if you know what I mean). With this in mind, I would not recommend feeding your pup 10 minutes before you leave for work and not giving them a chance to relieve themselves before you go (although some puppies will go immediately after eating if you take them outside upon meal completion). Set that alarm clock about a half hour earlier than normal, take the pup outside for potty, then feed, then back outside.
I think a general rule of thumb is a pup needs a 2:1 ratio of water to food on a daily basis. Hydration is just as important as being fed. Again, break up the servings of food and water throughout the day (water a few times per day, beginning in AM and every couple hours ending at dinner time. Food can be 2-3 times per day depending on your schedule). Not only will this help sustain proper nutrition and hydration, but you can achieve a more regular and reliable bathroom schedule. It can also prevent overfeeding or over-hydrating, resulting in several bathroom break needs often times while you are gone! Allow more time in the morning for feeding, and a few bathroom breaks before you leave for work. Inevitably, the pup will need another break within a couple of hours. If not possible, be prepared to clean up a mess for a few weeks until the pup is strong enough to contain themselves.
Use a crate
Personally, I believe in crate training puppies. Not only is this a great tool for house training a dog, but it provides them a safe dwelling place where they can be alone and learn not to “need” you 24/7. As much as we all want to cuddle our pups and let them be with us all the time, trust me when I tell you a certain level of independence and separation tolerance will help tremendously later on.
In reference to house training, a crate can be invaluable as dogs naturally do not like to soil their sleeping area. There is one caveat to this; if the area is big enough to soil and still sleep comfortably this logic goes right out the window! Do not put a puppy in an adult size crate and expect them to stay clean. All the space a dog needs in their crate is enough to get in, turn around, and lay down (especially during house training). Once housebroken, feel free to give your dog bigger sleeping quarters!
The crate is also where to put your pup anytime you cannot monitor them in the house. A wandering puppy is often an accident (both literally and in terms of bathroom activity) waiting to happen. Always put your puppy in the crate after they have been outside for potty. Get your dog accustomed to crate time, even on days where you are home (even just an hour here and there). This helps keep them on a schedule, and teaches them to hold it, contain themselves and get used to going outside for potty.
Establish a routine
Establishing your routine is self-explanatory. Young pups cannot hold it very long, so be diligent about potty breaks, be realistic about the age and physical capability of your pup, and simply manage food/water intake and the crate. This process will go quick!
For further information feel free to visit Southfork Retrievers online and inquire with any questions!