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Local Woof: Puppy Challenge #1 – House Training

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The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

So you have a cute new puppy? Congratulations! But now what?

Puppies naturally bite, cry, poop and pee. Then we get them in the house and immediately want them NOT to bite, cry, poop or pee. It’s a pretty tall order for an 8 week old.

So here are a few tips on how to gently mold your tiny new best friend into the awesome dog you know she can be.

House Training: You need to immediately start to teach your puppy that you would seriously prefer that they eliminate outside and not in the house. This is actually pretty straight forward (most of the time) but it is super labor intensive, and that is where most people have trouble.

They just aren’t taking the puppy out often enough.

So how often, is enough? If you are crate training, your 8 to 10 week old puppy needs to be let out of their crate every 2 hours. If you work outside the home you will need a cadre of neighbors, friends and dog walkers to meet these needs. If the crate is the right size and they aren’t expected to hold it longer than they are physically capable, the pup will naturally try not to soil their sleeping area.

At night, your puppy should be sleeping in his crate, but you should expect to be woken up once or twice each night for the fist week or so. 2 and 4 am trips to the yard are going to be the norm for a while.

When you are home and the puppy is out of the crate that’s where the real commitment comes into play. To start, you need to take your puppy out for a bathroom break at least once an hour. If the puppy is still having accidents go to every half hour. In addition to every hour, add on after they wake from a nap and after they are done playing. So, like I said, labor intensive. But, if you do it, you can have a fully house trained puppy in three weeks or less.

The reason this works is because young puppies are very impressionable and will develop a substrate preference for where they eliminate. If you take them out often enough and they are constantly eliminating outside, then that will be where they prefer to go. Add in copious opportunities to do the right thing and a few treats for a job well done and it’s easy to convince the pup that it’s better to go outside than inside.

Inevitably, the pup will have an accident. Don’t stress about it. Doing the right thing 90% of the time will make an accident here or there irrelevant. There is no need to reprimand the puppy. The practice of rubbing their noses in their urine is outdated, cruel and ineffective. Simply clean up the mess, provide more opportunities to eliminate outside and move forward.

Next up? Puppy mouthing.

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