|Housebreaking concepts are simple. Following them is not
There are only a few things that young puppies do: Roughhouse, sleep
or cuddle and eat. After each of these events you can expect your pup to
have to pee (or poop) so be sure to get her to her "spot" at that time. If
you are using a litter box you may need to sit right near it to put her back
into it a few times until she goes. Be sure to have some baby food (we use
chicken) to give her as a treat the second she finishes peeing. At this age
the pups are still clumsy and if given a different kind of treat they may
drop it in the litter box then go rooting around to find it. We don't want
the pup to associate food with litter pellets so a lick from the baby food
jar is a much more appropriate treat.
You need to watch the pup (closely) every minute that she is not
contained. This is so that you can grab her and get her to her spot at
the first sign that she may need to go. This is a lot easier when the pup is
going to poop than to pee. These puppies are so small that it can be hard to
notice that they are squatting to pee before it is too late. Try hard.
You need to take her out (or to her litter box) often. Even
if the pup shows no sign that she has to go, take her to her spot often. Be
sure to give her a treat every time she goes in the right place and to do it
as soon as she finishes. You only have a few seconds. After that she will
not associate the treat with what she did to get it.
You need to contain her when you are not watching her. When
you are at home but can't watch closely the pup should be in a crate where
you can hear her the minute she wakes up. As soon as she wakes up get her to
her spot. She will have to pee within a short time.
You need to provide a place in the house where she can pee when
you will not be able to watch her and not be able to get out of the
crate instantly when she wakes up. This is what we use the exercise pen for. The exercise pen
can contain her litter box, some food and water and a couple of toys. It is very unusual for a pup to pee in the pen
(outside of the litter box) after leaving here. If you leave the puppy
confined to her crate (as opposed to the pen) for any length of time when
you are not home, she will pee in it. She will have no choice. Any time a
pup pees in the crate it will set her training back. If it only happens once
or twice it may not hurt tremendously but you do not want her to get the
idea that its ok to pee in the crate. If she does, it will set your training
back a lot. (It will also make the puppy uncomfortable as she is learning to
hold it, and confuse her.)
I do not recommend using newspaper or wee wee pads. My experience with
them is that the pups drag them around, shred them and then pee wherever
they want to.
Pay attention to when the pup is peeing and pooping. This will
help you know when she is likely to have to go. Her schedule will become
more regular - and less frequent - as she gets older.
If there is an accident:
Be very clear on this: Puppies don't have accidents. Puppy owners have
accidents. If there is an accident you were not following the above rules
closely enough. This is not a reason for you to feel guilty or like a bad
mom but important for you to realize that it is not the puppy's fault. If
the pup has an accident and you did not watch it happen you should
completely ignore it. If the pup has an accident and you see it happening,
just take her to her spot and tell her gently that this is where we pee. End
of story. Many people will tell you that you should keep her in her spot
until she does go pee. This may be good information but I don't find it to
be practical information. Since she has just peed you are not likely to get
her to pee again immediately.
Never yell at a pup for having an accident nor try to discipline her
in any way. If you do she may assume that you don't want to see her
peeing and it will cause her to do it in a place or time when you are not
looking. This can be disastrous to housebreaking. Don't feel like you are
letting her "get away with" something. Remember, it was your mistake, not
Don't celebrate too soon. One of the most common errors in
housebreaking is thinking that the pup is reliably housebroken before
she actually is. People often think the pup is having some relapse and drive
themselves nuts trying to figure out why she has regressed. Often people
assume all kinds of reasons (Stubbornness, spite, separation anxiety, etc.)
that are alien to the pup and will set you back even further.
When your pup has had no accidents for a week, stick to the plan for another
month. If there are still no accidents then she is reliably housebroken.