You can't expect too much in the way of housebreaking before your puppy is 12-14 weeks
old because he does not have full sphincter muscle control.I do still highly recommend getting your puppy in the habit
as soon as you get them. Very young puppies simply cannot hold bladder and bowel movements for long periods at this
age. The interval between the urge and the act of urination or defecation is very short. Unless you immediately notice the
distinctive movements you puppy makes when he's looking to relieve himself, like sniffing the floor to search for a toilet
spot or going around in circles, he will soil your floor. Your principal duty when you bring your beautiful bundle of fluff
home is to PREVENT accidents, but keep in your mind that even at this tender early age, virtually every action is a learning
experience. The number one reason so many puppies end up at the animal shelters is twofold: the puppy is not taught
"NO BITE!!" and/or the puppy is not properly housebroken.
It will be impossible to watch him all of the time, so the solution is to confine the youngster
to a "nursery area" completely covered with newspapers in a room such as the kitchen, with a washable floor, or confine him
to a crate. The confining area shouldn't be much larger than 3 x 5 feet or so. I don't recommend that you give him the entire
kitchen area unless you are willing to clean up a lot of puddles until he is a little older. Make him a comfortable bed in
one corner where he can sit or lie and watch everything that's going on. Just make sure his area is covered with paper so
he can't eliminate anywhere else.
Start immediately to let him know what is expected. If you want him to potty outdoors,
then don't deliberately praise him when he uses the paper, but don't scold him either. Don't acknowledge that he has gone
at all. You don't want to confuse him about where to relieve himself because he's going to go outdoors in a reliable way within
a short time. As soon as he is immunized, start taking him outside on an informal basis around the clock and every hour or
so until he gains more muscle control, and remember to ask the question, "Do you want to go OUT?" Whenever he potties outside,
praise lavishly. That will be your ultimate key to success. Puppies live to please you.
Keep your puppy clean and change the papers frequently. Don't be too strict with him, because
puppies go through a fear-imprint period stage between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Harsh punishment should be avoided; any discipline
should be mild. Do not let anyone deliberately scare or hurt the puppy. Even a seemingly insignificant episode can destroy
the bond you want to establish and frighten the puppy for months. An experience that produces trembling at this stage might
effect your pup for life.
Some people postpone gentle early training because they think that very young puppies can't learn much.
That is the farthest from the truth. A very young puppy is a highly responsible creature with an incredible capacity to explore
its environment and learn new things each day. This critical period from 8 to 12 weeks of age when a puppy's inclination is
to explore is when the puppy acquires the most knowledge. If enrichment experiences and simple training (i.e., socialization,
potty training and "NO BITE!"), are denied or limited, the puppy could have a lower emotional IQ as an adult dog. Also, if
it is a medical fact that puppies can't be housebroken until they are 14 weeks old, I use that information as my goal period
to have the puppy totally reliable by 14 weeks of age. (I have personally seen
puppies housebroken much earlier than 14 weeks.)
We will be keeping a few things in mind that work towards your goal of housebreaking your puppy.
A secret of successful and rapid housebreaking is to understand that dogs are den dwellers in their natural state. In the
wild, dogs hunt for food, mate, socialize with fellow pack members, and relieve themselves OUTSIDE their dens. But they always
return to their dens, snug and sheltered nests where they feel comfortable and secure, to sleep. Use this knowledge to house
train your puppy.
Below is a simple formula that works. It is based on several things:
- Establish regular eating habits.
- Confine the pup at night and at specific times of the day to his "den" or Crate or Puppy Area where he won't want to relieve
- Follow a strict outdoor walking schedule.
- Give plenty of praise!!
- Use the right kind of corrective training.
- Get rid of odors promptly (Nature's Miracle works great!).
STAY CONSISTENT AND DETERMINED...IT WILL WORK.
If you are not consistant early on with your puppy it will take much longer
to housebreak your dog. If you don't want to take him out consistantly you can't expect him to be broken by 14 weeks.
The very last thing you must do before you go to bed is to take your puppy out to relieve himself.
Praise lavishly. The very first thing you must do when you get up in the morning is to take out your puppy. (Don't take a
shower or make the coffee...puppy comes first!) I have a pair of slippers or shoes next to my bed and in the winter, a coat,
ready to throw on. When your alarm goes off, (or his alarm goes off), get out of bed and CARRY your puppy out to the preferred
potty spot. Let him sniff around and don't rush him. Sniffing is important for some puppies to stimulate elimination. Notice
how he finds a previous potty spot and immediately squats to eliminate. The odor encourages him to go in that area. Stay close
by and the moment your puppy relieves himself, praise lavishly and let him think he has accomplished the best ever and tell
him how clever he is. Bring him back inside. This is the time he may have a little play period in the kitchen while you prepare
breakfast but NEVER let him run loose in the house without supervision at this time.
Give him his breakfast. Pick up his dish after 15 to 20 minutes and give him plenty of fresh
water. During the more formal training period, remember, water should be restricted by time, not by quantity, so give him
all he wants to drink. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, ask him if he "Wants to Go OUT?" and take him immediately to the same
spot. Always return to the same toilet area, because like I stated before, the odors that linger from previous visits will
remind your puppy why he is there. Praise him enthusiastically when he does his duty and give him enough time to both urinate
and defecate. If nothing happens, however, bring him back inside, confine him for another 15 to 20 minutes and try again.
You may have to do this three or four times on the first morning, but once you learn how his own "internal clock" functions,
you'll get your timing straight.
When the puppy does relieve himself after breakfast, he can have another supervised free period
before being confined until the next meal or outing, when you will repeat the above steps again. The length of supervised
free periods depends on the puppy's age. Once your puppy can handle a 30-minute period with no accidents, give him more freedom
by increasing his free time to 45 minutes, and so on. Your goal is to increase his free periods gradually until he needs to
be confined ONLY while your are away from home and at night. He does not have to spend all his supervised free time in one
room because he needs to investigate and to mingle with family members and/or other pets as much as possible. Just don't let
him discover your best living room furniture and rugs until he has completely relieved himself. If your puppy regresses, it's
back to square 1: start the program from the beginning once more.
A puppy will relieve himself many times during the day, especially if he is very young,
and you must be prepared to take him out:
- Immediately after waking up in the morning
- After extreme excitement or long play periods
- The last thing at night before bedtime
- After every meal and drink of water
- After he wakes up from a nap
Between these times, stay alert for signs that your puppy is looking to relieve himself, actions
such as whining, acting restless, sniffing the floor or going around in circles. When you see him doing these things, try
to distract him for a moment, grab him up as you ask "Do you want to go OUT?" and take him out immediately to his potty spot
and set him down. You may be going out 8 to 10 times or more the first week or two, but once the puppy settles into his routine,
keeping in mind that every week his body is becoming more mature and capable of "holding it", he should not have to go out
more than 4 to 6 times a day, depending on his age.
Stick to a strict schedule. The more conscientious YOU ARE YOURSELF, the more successful the
training will be. It takes patience to make your young puppy understand what you want him to do, but he will adapt to your
time schedule eventually. There will be accidents, of course; that is part of raising a puppy. When your puppy makes a mistake
in the house, never abuse him physically and never yell. Correct him humanely. The firm and sharp word "NO-O-O-O" is enough
for now. How you say this word can convey your displeasure very effectively.
Always go outside with your new puppy during this training period, even if your yard is
fenced in. Your pup wants to be with you, not alone outside at this young age. You want to see when and where he relieves
himself, and your enthusiastic praise as he does his duty will encourage him and speed up the process tremendously. Once your
pup is completely housebroken, it will not be necessary to accompany him outdoors if your yard is fenced in. If not, always
take your dog out on a leash. NEVER LET HIM ROAM FREE!!
If You Work All Day
Your routine will be the same if you work all day, only you will need to adjust your puppy's feeding
and walking times, supervised free periods, and confinement periods to conform with your work or school hours. Other members
of the household should help. This should definitely be a "family affair". With everyone taking a turn and the older children
helping with the potty schedule, you should be able to potty train your puppy to conform to your work hours.
Just before you leave for work, take your puppy out, and then confine him to his "den" or area for the
day. If you work long or irregular hours, I recommend that you leave newspapers in the den area if he is less than 10 weeks
old. I then leave the area "paperless" to encourage him to "hold it" until I get home. If you have an older responsible child,
teach them to take your puppy out as soon as they get home from school. If your child is responsible enough, they could also
be taught to feed/water and again take out the puppy to potty.
You can decrease your puppy's confinement and restraint time if you can get home for lunch or arrange
with a neighbor to walk him at noon. But, if you must leave your puppy alone all day, come STRAIGHT home after work. You have
a new responsibility. Your puppy will grow quickly and this will soon be behind you. No "happy hour" with colleagues during
this training period. Greet your pup animatedly and make a big fuss over him no matter what his "den" area looks like. It's
normal to find a puddle or mess when you first begin the training or if your puppy is between 7 and 10 weeks old. Just don't
acknowledge the messes when you find them. Say "Do you want to go OUT?" and RUSH OUTSIDE. Once you return indoors, pick up
any dirty or wet papers or clean the crate if necessary, and resume the feeding, walking, free-period and confinement schedule
Keep you puppy's feeding and walking schedule as consistent as possible to avoid throwing him off schedule.
In other words, even keep to the work schedule on weekends. Don't sleep in late on Saturday and Sunday and then take him out
more frequently when you are not normally home. Try to confine him during a period of the day on both days so as not to confuse
him for the weekdays.
Eventually, you will return home one afternoon to find no mistakes!! (If your child finds no mistakes
first, have him or her tell you!!) You can celebrate the beginning of a more normal life. As I mentioned in our discussions,
just about the time you a sick and tired of following this routine you will notice that your pup is becoming potty trained.
Your hard work will payoff! He will only be a puppy for a little while and then you can enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Poodles want to be with their family members or their "pack" members, not isolated from
them, so it is important to give your pup plenty of exercise and attention while you are home so he does not become discontented
and bored while you are gone. He should be well exercised before and after his confinements. Get up earlier or allot extra
time after work or school to cuddle your puppy and give him a little romp. Once he is completely housebroken, take him for
long walks or a run in the park. Your puppy will not object to being confined if he's toned up and contented. This time spent
playing with and loving your puppy will be repaid by his faithfulness and loving companionship.
A REMINDER: By the time your puppy is around 14 weeks of age
(or possibly sooner!), he should be able to go through the night without having to relieve himself. If an older puppy 5-6
months old or older still makes mistakes, either you have not done your job, or, have him examined by a veterinarian.
Acknowledgment: The material in this package has been accumulated from personal
experience, other breeder's experiences, and some concepts were taken from the following books; How To Housebreak Your Dog
In 7 Days, by Shirlee Kalstone; Veterinary Notes for Dog Breeders, by Annette Carricato, V.M.D., and in How To Raise a Puppy
You Can Live With, by Rutherford and Neil. These books are excellent references and could be found at your local bookstores.