Our puppies are trained using hypoallergenic paper litter pellets. At approximately four weeks of age we start to introduce our puppies to a potty area in their pen. We use a shallow tray that the puppies can easily get in and out of and fill it with paper litter pellets. Over the course of a few weeks they learn how to separate their sleeping/play area from their potty area. Usually all of our puppies are completely trained using this method before they leave to their new homes. We have found that using pee pads to train puppies can confuse them. They learn to go to the bathroom on a soft surface and can confuse it with carpet or fabric. This can make it difficult to house train your puppy. On the other hand, pellet potty training seems to help your puppy transition to going to the bathroom outside as pellets help mimic the outdoors. If your day to day life cannot always follow a strict potty training schedule, setting up a pen with a pellet potty area for your puppy can be very helpful. Our puppies will be introduced to crates and spend small amounts of time in a crate before leaving to their new home. We believe it is important to start your puppy on crate training soon after you bring them home. Although your dog may end up being loose in your house or sleeping on your bed at night, they will most likely need to be in a kennel at some point in their lives wether it be at the groomers, boarding facility, or veterinarian. It's important your puppy learns to be comfortable confined in a crate for short periods of time.
Crate training is as much for your benefit as it is for your pup. Establishing a safe space for your puppy is important to keep them protected from household dangers when you can't watch them, give you piece of mind, and give your puppy a place they can relax without the distractions of a busy household. Crates can also be useful when house training because you don't have to constantly be watching to make sure your puppy isn't going potty in the house. Crates also help teach your puppy independence. A puppy that learns to be independent early can help prevent issues like separation anxiety. It's important that your puppy learns to sleep through the night without needing you or needing to go potty. An eight week old puppy should be able to sleep through the night without needing to go to the bathroom in their crate if you follow the steps below.
1. Make sure your puppies crate is placed in a dark and quiet place in your home, after all your puppy should be sleeping while they are in their crate. You do not want anybody to bother your puppy during crate time. Your puppy's crate needs to be a place for them to relax.
2. Keep your puppy on a schedule. You should be feeding them their breakfast, lunch, and supper around the same time every day. Make sure you feed supper a couple hours before your puppy will be going to bed. Feeding your puppy their supper in their crate is fine, but make sure they have the opportunity to play and go potty again before bed, and take your puppy to go potty immediately after you wake up in the morning.
3. If your puppy is whimpering in their crate, do not give up and let them sleep in your bed. Of course if they are screaming, comfort them and maybe take them for another potty break, but do not give up. Your puppy's crate does not need to be in your bedroom at night, and your puppy does not need to sleep on your bed. Even the puppies that hate being crated can learn to love their crate with patience and consistency.
4. Give your puppy something to distract them in their crate. Our favourite kennel training tip for puppies that are nervous in their crate or have separation anxiety is to purchase a West Paw Toppl Toy and fill it with wet dog food. We like Acana's wet puppy food. Put the Toppl Toy in your freezer for a couple hours, and then give the Toppl Toy to your puppy when you put them in their crate. It will exercise their mind, and be a fun reward for them during crate time. As an added bonus, they usually fall asleep soon after they finish eating. There are also many fun recipes you can try freezing in your pups Toppl toy. This trick is seriously a life saver for those first few nights/weeks when your puppy is not yet used to being left alone in a crate.
5. Make sure your puppy doesn't have too much room in their crate. One of the biggest mistakes that puppy owners make is trying to crate train with a crate that is too large. You puppy should only have enough space to turn around and lay down comfortably. Any additional space will encourage your puppy to move away from where they are sleeping and potty in the crate. We recommend getting a wire crate that can grow with your puppy. Many wire crates come with a divider panel that can be adjusted to give your puppy more space as they grow. Purchase a wire crate that comes with a divider panel that is sized for your puppy's estimated adult weight.
CRATE TRAINING DO'S
- Start early
- Be patient
- Make the crate a safe and rewarding place to be
- Keep your dog's crate off limits to visitors, children, and other dogs
- Give appropriate chew toys inside the crate (frozen stuffed Toppl toy or lick bowl)
- Make crate training fun (YouTube has great videos on Crate Training Games)
- Put the crate is a quiet room without distractions like other dogs and people.
CRATE TRAINING DON'TS
- Use the crate for punishment
- Keep your dog in longer than he/she has been trained for
- Allow your dog to 'cry it out' for extended periods of time. Doing so can have long term side effects such as confinement phobia or seperation anxiety
- Allow your dog to potty in their crate
- Let your puppy sleep on your bed at night because they started whimpering in their pen or crate. Being too dependent on you can lead them to develop separation anxiety. You can offer your puppy comfort or a distraction, but it's important to teach them independence.
HOW TO GET STARTED WITH CRATE TRAINING
- Have some yummy treats ready
- Sit down near the kennel. If your dog approaches to sniff give them a treat. If your dog is reluctant you can throw treats inside.
- After a few practice sessions, once your dog is comfortable, begin saying 'kennel' or 'Bed' as he/she walks in.
- Again, when they're comfortable, begin shutting the door. Shut it for a few seconds, open it and give them a treat, and say 'Ok' to release him/her from the kennel.
- Gradually work up to having the door closed for more than a few seconds.
- Get your puppy used to his/her kennel by putting him/her in it for short periods of time while you are home. Such as when doing dishes, watching tv, or eating supper. You do not want your puppy to associate his/her kennel with you leaving the house.
- To get him/her comfortable in the crate while you are away you should start back at the beginning. While he/she is in the kennel leave the house for a few minutes. Gradually work on lengthening your time away.
- If you're doing crate training while also doing house training leave the crate open (remove the door if you can) in your puppies area (such as the kitchen).
- When you are home put your puppy in his/her kennel for short periods. Every half hour or so let him/her out while saying 'Ok' and immediately take them outside for a potty break.
Housetraining is the first thing new dog owners begin working on and will continue to work on for several months. New puppies have little to no control over their bodily functions. Because their bladders are so small they have little warning between feeling the need to relieve themselves and actually doing it. New puppies can hold their bladders roughly one hour per month of age, a 3 month old puppy will need to be let out every 3 hours, a 4 month old puppy can go four hours.
During the day your new puppy will need to go more frequently:
- Immediately after waking up
- During play and exercise or immediately after
- After eating or drinking
- 30-45 minutes regularly throughout the day.
The Do's and Don'ts of Potty Training:
- Never punish your dog for an accident. Do not rub his/her nose in, yell, or get mad. You can instead use a simple "no" when marking an unwanted behaviour.
- Never leave your potty training pup unsupervised.
- Reward your dog generously for going potty in the correct place (outside or litter tray)
- Clean up indoor accidents immediately. Use an enzymatic cleaner.
- Keep your puppy supervised at all times. He/she should be with you, in a crate or a playpen. It can be helpful when house training to keep your puppy on a loose leash when inside so you can keep an eye on them and you are able to easily take them outside if they are showing that they are looking for a place to go potty. Keeping them on a leash can also be a great way to train your puppy to remain calm and lay by your feet, so you can also use the experience for behaviour training.
- It will be easier to train your new puppy with a regular feeding and potty schedule.
- You can hang a bell from the door knob or get a dog button next to the door to teach them to ring it to be let outside for potty breaks. It's a great training technique and it gives your puppy a way to communicate with you!
SETTING UP A PUPPY PEN
It's crucial that your puppy has a safe place to go while your at work, running errands, and for short periods during the day. Although a crate is a great safe place, it can't be used excessively with a young puppy. Puppies have lots of energy and need to go to the bathroom frequently, so it can be very helpful to set up a puppy pen with a potty area. If you're putting your puppy in a crate for long periods of time or too often, your puppy is going to begin to hate their crate. Also, your puppy should never be put in a position where they are forced to eliminate in their crate. If you are going to leave your young puppy alone for longer than a couple hours they will need a place to go potty, or you will probably be cleaning up a mess and giving your puppy a bath when you get home. Setting up a puppy pen is a good option for this situations.
Your puppy is trained to use litter pellets. The pellets we use vary depending on what is available to us at the time, but we typically use paper pellet litter. You can find litter pellets in the cat litter section at most pet stores including PetSmart and Pet Valu, among other stores. A good idea for a litter tray is a rabbit hutch droppings pan. It is shallow enough for your puppy to easily get in and out, and large enough for them to walk around. You can find a droppings pan at most farm supply stores such as PeaveyMart. Another great option is a PuppyGoHere litter tray. You can find PuppyGoHere litter trays on amazon. One more idea for a litter tray is taking a concrete missing tub from a hardware store and cutting an entrance into the tray so your pup can easily walk in and out. Make sure you purchase a durable and sturdy x-pen that is tall enough your puppy will not be able to climb, hop out, or tip over. A company that makes great durable puppy play pens is Artemis Whelping. Their panels are detachable and easy to clean. When setting up a puppy pen, put the food and water dishes along with the bed/crate on the opposite side from the potty area. Below is a sample of what a good puppy pen set-up looks like.