It’s a stage that some dogs pass through far more smoothly than others.
Over the years we have found ways to simplify the process.
One way is to restrict the dog’s access to most of the house, until the habit of toileting outdoors is established. This can take a few days.
It doesn’t mean that the puppy is house-trained in a few days, but the ‘outdoor habit’ is the first step.
Where is the puppy!
It can be pretty hard work trying to watch a puppy that could be anywhere in the house at any given moment in time. And if a small puppy is allowed to have the ‘run’ of the house, house-training can take a bit longer.
So, my laundry-room has become ‘Rachael’s Room’ for the time being, and she will spend the majority of her time here for the next few days.
She has her crate, water bowl, and kongs in the room, and there are no cables to chew or valuables within reach. During the day whilst we are about, the back door leading on to a part of the patio which we have puppy proofed, is left open.
When I go down to the farm with my other dogs, Rachael can come with me in a small crate on the back seat of my truck. She is too small to go in the big crate with the other dogs. If I go somewhere she cannot go, and no-one else is home, she will be shut into her crate in her room. We don’t leave puppies outdoors if we are not at home.
The outdoor habit
This arrangement suits Rachel well as it is similar to the situation she had at her breeder’s home. And she is used to pottering about outside on her own. So far, we have had no accidents in her room, and she has taken herself outside whenever she needs to wee.
Not house-trained yet!
In fine weather most puppies will toilet outdoors given these circumstances. Though of course this does not mean that they are housetrained. It does however, get the ‘outdoor’ habit established, which then helps achieve housetraining indoors, more easily.
If the weather is bad, puppies will often attempt to toilet indoors even if they have access to the garden, and who can blame them! So when it is very cold, or raining, we go out into the garden with puppies until they have done what they need to do!
We have had some rain showers already and Rachael is happy to go out in the rain if a grown up is with her.
Trips into the rest of the house
If the puppy is let into the rest of the house and not closely supervised, it will probably not remember to go outside, even if the weather is good, and the puppy has a good outdoor habit.
At regular intervals, when we have seen Rachael empty herself outside, we bring her into the kitchen for a few minutes and let her play around. During these few minutes we watch her like a hawk, ready to intervene if she looks about to make a deposit on the kitchen floor.
Keeping these periods of access to other rooms short enables us to give a puppy our full attention and helps to minimise accidents.
The soft surface of carpeted floors seems to be very appealing to puppies. In addition wee soaks in so quickly that it is easy to miss what has happened. So for this reason, we don’t let small puppies walk about in any part of the house that is carpeted.
If you have children that repeatedly leave doors open, the easiest way to achieve this is through the use of strategically placed baby gates.
Some people really worry about leaving puppies on their own, even for short periods of time. I’ll explain why it is OK, and even a good thing, to do this in another article.
Over the next few days, we will be gradually increasing the amount of time that Rachael is allowed into the kitchen. We’ll take it slowly and see how she progresses.