Using Crate Training to Housebreak Your Puppy

Housebreaking your puppy requires patience, but crate training can make it much easier. With the instructions of our vet, we have successfully trained three puppies now. Here are step by step instructions for how to have a happy dog content to only “go” outside.

First buy a crate that is just big enough for your puppy to turn around in and lay down. Put a small pad in the bottom and a favorite chew toy. Get your puppy used to the crate from the beginning. Don’t use it as punishment. Your puppy will appreciate having a safe place to be when he needs to get away from the excitement of the family. A crate can provide that security. Also, put your dog on a regular feeding schedule, so that his elimination will be more predictable.

It is important for someone to be home at least for several days to begin crate training, although I have begun the process with only a weekend off. Feed your puppy and give water; then put the puppy in the crate. Talk to him in a calm voice. When forty-five minutes to an hour have passed, take your puppy outside. Say the word “outside” so the puppy will become used to the sound. Don’t send the dog out alone. You go out with your dog. This requires some patience. If your dog goes, praise him and give him a small treat. Then reward him by taking him out for a walk, having some playtime, or letting him be free in the house for a short time. Then return the dog to the crate.

If the puppy does not go when he is taken outside, then calmly return him to the crate and try again in 20-30 minutes. Again, if your puppy goes, praise and reward him with a small treat and some special attention. Never give your dog free run of your home unless you know without a doubt that her bowels and bladder are empty.

Puppies will naturally resist urinating or defacating where they sleep. However, if you get a crate that is too big, the puppy will find he can “go” in one end and still have a clean place to lay down in the other end. So be sure to get a crate without extra room, and replace as your dog grows. This way the puppy will keep the crate clean, and learn to hold it until the appropriate time and place.

If your puppy goes in the house while he is playing, don’t scold. Simply clean up the mess and immediately take the puppy outside and say the word “outside” or “go outside”. By being patient and loving with your pet, he will learn much faster. Never spank the puppy or stick his nose in the urine or feces. You wouldn’t do this to an infant to teach potty training, and neither should you do that to your dog.

Don’t expect perfection right away, but with love and patience, your dog will want to please you and will catch on.

But what about when you are away at work? Let your puppy sleep in his crate. In the morning, immediately take your puppy outside, saying “outside”. Give him sufficient time to go, even if it means you have to get up a little earlier than usual. As an alternative, the puppy could also be taken on a walk and allowed to “go” that way. When the puppy goes, praise and pet him and then return him to the crate. Never leave a puppy alone in a crate for more than four hours. Their system of elimination is not mature enough to “hold it” for longer than that. If you have to work, get someone to come by and let your puppy outside at least every four hours.

Some people use paper training for puppies, but I have found through trial and error that crate training is easier. With crate training, the puppy learns one way, to go outside. With paper training, the puppy has to learn to go on the paper, and then eventually to go outside.

If you follow this procedure, housebreaking your puppy should only take about two weeks for your puppy to understand. , This method will work with any dog, regardless of age. If you adopt a dog from a shelter or a rescue program, follow the same routine. Remember, even though the dog is older or even an adult, he still does not know the rules of your home, and may not have ever BEEN in a house. Be PATIENT and this method WILL work.

Taking care of a puppy is a major responsibiity, but with proper training and love, you can have many happy years with your new companion.

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