The crate training method is one of the simplest and most effective method of house training a dog. The method relies on the dog’s natural instinct to keep its sleeping quarters clean. The main concepts behind crate training are:

  • We will leave the pet in the crate at all times that he/she is not in direct control of the owner. That means that the dog will eat, sleep and spend all hours that you cannot supervise him/her in the crate.
  • Every time you remove the pet from the crate, you will give it the opportunity to eliminate in the appropriate place (be it out doors, or in a specific area of your house or apartment).
  • Every time the dog eliminates where you want it to, you praise him/her lavishly.
  • The positive reinforcement will be the most effective training aid.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when beginning your training:

  • Dogs & puppies like to be clean and to sleep in a clean area.
  • Puppies have limited bladder control and therefore need to urinate frequently.
  • All dogs do best when kept to a routine schedule.

Dogs will tend to eliminate under the following circumstances:

  • When waking up in the morning or after a nap
  • Within 1/2 hour after eating
  • Before going to sleep

Preparing the crate

  • Choose a crate that is relatively small so the dog will not be tempted to use one end of it as a bathroom. If you’ve bought a crate for him to “grow into”, you can also get dividers to reduce the inner space while he’s small. If he must be left alone while you’re at work, then a larger crate is okay. Put a stack of newspapers at one end for him to use when you can’t be home to let him out. Once he’s developed better control, he won’t need the newspapers unless you’re going to be gone all day. Change the papers several times a day if they’ve been soiled.
  • Select food and water dishes that will not be easily tipped over (the ones that clamp onto the crate are ideal).
  • Select bedding that will be easily cleaned and not torn up.
  • Place a few safe toys in the crate for the puppy to play with.
  • Place the crate in an area of the house where the puppy will see and hear people. Your puppy might not like the crate at first. Don’t give in to complaining or tantrums! If you’re sure he isn’t hungry or needs to eliminate, ignore his cries. Eventually he’ll settle down and sleep which is what crates are for! If you are having problems getting the pup to go into the crate, you might try giving a treat every few times you put the dog in his crate, he’ll soon look forward to going in.

The Daily Schedule

We want to establish a regular routine for the puppy so that each time he eliminates we are there to make it a success.

  • First thing in the morning, carry the puppy to the area of the yard you want him to eliminate in. By carrying him, you will minimize the chance of accidents on the way to the area and condition him to feel the grass under his feet when eliminating instead of your carpet.
  • Allow the pup to stay in this area for 5-10 minutes or until he eliminates. When he eliminates praise him lavishly.
  • Return the puppy to the crate and feed breakfast.
  • Wait 30 minutes and repeat steps 1 and 2. If the puppy is successful at either time then you can keep him out to play for 1-2 hours watching for signs of impending elimination such as sniffing and turning in circles. If you think the pup is about to eliminate, pick him up and take him outside again.
  • Return the puppy to the crate after play time to sleep.
  • Repeat steps 1-4 at around noon to coincide with his lunch time.
  • Repeat steps 1-4 again around dinner time
  • Repeat step 2 before going to bed.
  • Place the puppy in the crate for the night without food. Fresh water should be left in over night.

While this schedule is hectic at first, the results of all this running in and out will pay off in short while. Soon the pup will start to whine when it needs to eliminate and you should be attentive to these calls.

Paper Training

Paper-training your pup will make the overall job of housebreaking much harder and take longer because it gives the pet mixed messages; that it is O.K. to eliminate both outside and on or near papers.. By only allowing the pup to relieve itself outside, you’re teaching it that it’s not acceptable to use the house. If you must use newspapers when you’re gone, keep to the regular housebreaking schedule when you’re at home.

Outdoor Hygiene

Keep your dog’s yard picked up and free of old stools. Many dogs choose an area to use as a bathroom. If left to become filthy, they’ll refuse to use it and will eliminate in the house instead! If your dog has to be tied up when he’s outside, keeping the area clean is even more critical.

Handling Accidents

Remember, this method of housebreaking is based on PREVENTING accidents. By faithfully taking the dog out often enough, you’ll get faster results than if you discipline the puppy after the accident has already happened. If you puppy makes a mistake because you didn’t get him out when you should have don’t blame him.

If you catch the pup in the act, stay calm. Holler NO while you scoop the puppy up immediately – don’t wait for him to stop piddling – and carry him outside to an area he’s used before. As you set him on the ground, tell him “This is where you go potty” and praise him as he finishes the job. Leave him out a few more minutes to make sure he’s done before bringing him back in.

Any other corrections such as rubbing his nose in it, smacking with newspapers, yelling, beating or slapping only confuse and scare the dog. If you come across an “old” accident, it really doesn’t pay to get too excited about it. Dogs aren’t smart enough to connect a past act with your present anger and he won’t understand what you’re so mad about. He’ll act guilty but it’s only because he knows you’re mad at him.

Cleaning Up Accidents

If you’ve worked hard with this training method, you won’t have many! Put your puppy (or adult dog) away out of sight while you clean up a puddle. Dog mothers clean up after their babies but you don’t want your puppy to think that YOU do, too! Clean up on linoleum is self-explanatory. On carpeting, get lots of paper towel and continue blotting with fresh paper until you’ve lifted as much liquid as possible.

There are several home-made and commercially available “odor killers that are helpful. In a pinch, plain white vinegar will work to help neutralize the odor and the ammonia in the urine. (Don’t use a cleaner with ammonia – it’ll make it worse!) Sprinkle baking soda on the spot to soak up moisture and to help neutralize odor, vacuum when dry. At the pet store, you can find a good selection of products that may be more effective. A diarrhea stain on carpeting or upholstery can be lifted with a gentle solution of lukewarm water, dishwashing soap and white vinegar.

Puppies are attracted to urine odors and their noses are much better than ours! Even when using a commercial odor killer, a teeny residue will be left behind that our dogs can smell. Keep an eye on that spot in the future! This remarkable scenting ability does have an advantage – if you must paper-train your dog and he doesn’t know what newspapers are for yet, “house-breaking pads” are available at your pet store. Treated with a mild attractive odor (too weak for us to smell), your puppy will gladly use them!

Failures In A Housebroken Pet

Keep in mind that health problems, changes in diet and emotional upsets (moving to a new home, adding a new pet or family member, etc.) can cause temporary lapses in house training. Diabetes, kidney failure and heart failure and urinary tract infections in both puppies and adults can cause dogs to have to urinate more often. Urinary infections in young female puppies are common. A symptom is frequent squatting with little urine release and possibly bloody urine. If you suspect a physical problem, please bring in your dog for an examination.

Sudden changes in dog food brands or overindulgence in treats or table scraps can cause diarrhea. In additions, poor quality feeds can lead to diarrhea. Dogs don’t need much variety in their diets so you’re not harming yours by staying to one brand of food. If you make a change, do it gradually by mixing a little of the new food with the old, gradually increasing the amount of new food every day. A sudden change of water can cause digestive upset, too. If you’re moving or traveling, take along a couple gallons of “home” water to mix with the new. Distilled water from the grocery store can also be used.

Our Veterinarians give advice for Alta Loma, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Ontario, Claremont, Fontana and the Inland Empire Owners of Male Dogs

Your male puppy will begin to lift his leg between 4-9 months of age. It signals the activation of his sexual drive and instinct to “mark” territory. This is a perfect age to neuter your dog and avoid the unwanted behaviors that accompany sexual maturity – marking in inappropriate places, fighting and aggression toward other male dogs. Intact (non-neutered) males will mark any upright object and are especially hard on your shrubbery and trees. Some males will also mark inside the house, particularly if another dog comes to visit or if you’re visiting in someone else’s home. If you use your male for breeding, you can expect this behavior to get worse. Neutering your dog will protect his health, help him to live longer and be a better pet along with improving his house manners!

We hope that this handout will help you train your new puppy to be an enjoyable member of the family. If you are having any problems with this subject or any other aspect of your pet’s health care or training, please feel free to contact us at (909) 980-3575.