Little puppies are cute. The soft puppy kisses, adorable puppy eyes and general puppy goofiness. What’s not to love? Well… what isn’t so cute are the poopies in the house or stepping in those unexpected wee puddles (somehow worse with socks on, than barefoot). So, what is the best way to train puppies on how not to do the nasties in the house?
First and foremost, be prepared. Be prepared to watch puppy for any signs of getting ready for business. Dogs usually show very specific behavioural signs before urinating or defecating. There is a lot of sniffing, circling and activity before the deed is done. So careful observation for these signs will give you a clue that puppy needs to go out. There are sure times when they are likely to go: when they wake up from a good nap, or just after eating or playing. So be particularly prepared at these times.
Relocating puppy to an appropriate piece of lawn while they are showing the right behaviour will allow you to imprint the idea that the right place to go is outside. Ideally you want to get them to the grass before they start weeing. If you catch them in the act, you should still interrupt them (even mid-stream!) and take them outside. The interruption should be low key: pick puppy up and put her on the grass. There is no need to shout, scream or reprimand.
Once you have successfully observed the pre-pee behaviour and relocated puppy to the grass, the waiting game begins. Bear in mind that you have just put puppy in an exciting new environment. So, the urge to pee will be momentarily forgotten. Now there is grass to explore, a stick to chew or a game to play. But just give it some time. Waiting will pay off, and soon enough the urge will return, and the deed will be done. And don’t even think of leaving them alone outside. They will most likely follow you inside and wet the carpet and you won’t be able to do the critical step 4.
Now as soon as the deed is done, the most important moment has arrived. Prepare to amaze your spouse, and your neighbours spying over the wall, with your performing talents. Because now you have to make it seem as if puppy passing stool or wee is the most exciting moment of your life. Yes, you read that right, you have to be excited about poo. Never have you been this excited! Never have you given anyone or anything so much love and attention. If you want to score top marks, have some training treats ready and hand them out liberally. This is all to show puppy that what was just done – was the right thing to do in the correct place.
Now there is one extremely important no-no which is vital to success:
Do Not Punish!
Punishing a puppy when they make a mess in the house will slow down house training process. You are more likely to encourage fear or nervous behaviours and can even cause aversions to passing stool altogether. They will purely become scared to do it where or when you can see them or become scared of you altogether. Dogs, like children, learn better when you tell them what they should do, and not what they should not do. So is does not help to shout at them, reprimand them or use any other forms of negative reinforcements (such as spraying them with water or hitting etc).
What is very useful, though, is a rolled-up magazine. If you find that puppy has made a mess, we advise taking a good sturdy magazine, rolling it nice and tight, and hitting yourself over the head a few times. This is for not carrying out step one. Doing this each time puppy makes a mess will greatly aid in following steps 1 – 4!
The rewards of owning a new puppy are unending, but with all the love and cuteness overload comes responsibilities and a fair share of mess. Training puppies in the correct way and mimicking their natural learning methods, will soon reduce the undesirable mess, and leave you with more kisses and love than you can cope with.