Part Two: Pup’s First Day and Night
Imagine that someone has gifted you with a secret trip. You’ve boarded a private jet to destination unknown. Once you land, you find yourself someplace totally unfamiliar, amidst people speaking a language you don’t understand. You might be a little anxious at first, but soon you get into a groove and learn the ways of things in this brand new place. Plus, the food is really good there.
That’s very close to how your pup feels when he first arrives at your home. Part bewildered, part scared, part curious, part sleepy, and part hungry! The most helpful thing you can do for the little one is introduce him to the new digs, on leash, one place at a time.
The house tour.
Wearing his harness and leash, walk the little guy around the house, and let him sniff along the way. Have a toy already waiting in his bed, water already filling his water bowl, and a clear and easy path to the door he’ll be using to go outside for potty. When you take him outside to show him around, let him sniff, and praise him warmly for going potty. Spend a little more time sniffing around outside, then bring him back inside to his crate or penned area.
Housetraining is easy for dogs, but sometimes tricky for humans.
Dogs are perfectly willing to learn where it’s good to go potty. If they have a tough time learning, it’s means that something is wrong, medically (i.e. a bladder infection, urinary crystals, etc.—all reasons to see your vet pronto) or their human is not doing a good job of helping them to learn by missing their signals or not keeping to a regular schedule.
1. Start by using a crate or a penned in area. This helps pup learn that the house is not the place to go potty. The reason crate training works is that it teaches the pup to gradually include the entire house as his no-potty, home zone. You start with a small area and gradually increase the area size until, eventually, the “crate” is the whole house.
2. Be sure to set up your penned area or crate in the most often-used area of your home. Whether it’s the kitchen, your home office, the family room, wherever the people hang out the most.
3. It’s all about routine. Take pup out for potty on leash on a regular schedule (first thing in the morning, right after a meal, before a play session, after a play session, etc.). Be sure that your “outside for potty” routine is pleasant and relaxing for both you and pup. After he goes potty, praise him, then spend a bit more time sniffing around outside before bringing him back inside. Why? Because if pup learns that after going potty he must instantly go back inside, he may not want to go potty outside (since it means his enjoyable time sniffing outside comes to an end). And that can lead to indoor accidents, typically occurring right after he comes back inside.
4. Use the word potty. Or poopy. Or peepee. Or business Or whatever word you prefer to put a clear label on the activity. By teaching pup the word for the elimination activity, it allows him to understand what you are communicating to him, a useful communication tool when it’s really necessary. For example, if it’s frigidly cold outside, you can tell your dog to “go potty” at the beginning of your foray outside, sparing you both a possibly lengthy time in the cold. Or if you’ve just arrived at a grooming appointment, a quick trip to a grassy area beforehand for potty will make for a much more comfortable appointment for pooch. There are lots of times it will be helpful to be able to tell your dog to go potty, and have him understand you.
5. Accidents are no big deal. If you catch the little one going potty inside, you can make a quick little disapproving noise (“eek!” or “uh-oh!” work well), scoop him up and take him outside (keep old towels around for just this purpose). Never make a big deal of a potty accident. Your pooch is learning to utilize muscles that don’t fully develop until he’s four or five months old. Don’t expect perfection, and don’t ever scold a pup for going potty. You want him to learn to trust you, not fear you. Finally, be sure to clean up any messes as soon as possible with a cleaner that will enzymatically treat the stain. At Dog Parent, we can’t imagine life before the BISSELL SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner. For carpets, this gets the job done quickly and with minimal effort on your part. Use BISSELL’s 2X Pet Stain & Odor Formula for the best clean possible. If you’re cleaning up a mess on a hard surface, Nature’s Miracle is the tried and true enzymatic solution that cleans the mess and removes the odor. We like to transfer Nature’s Miracle into a small spray bottle for ease of use, rather than pouring out liquid from the larger bottle.
If pup’s in a crate, move the crate into your bedroom at nighttime. Make sure pup sleeps in a bed next to yours (in or out of the crate). Very young pups may wake up during the night, older pups will sleep the night through. While adult dogs may be just fine sharing a bed with you, young pups should get used to sleeping in their own soft and cuddly bed, a consistent and secure place in the house.
Before investing in a top quality bed, it’s good to know your pup’s sleeping style. Some prefer to sleep with arms and legs outstretched, making a rectangular bed a great choice. For pooches who love to curl up into a ball, a round bed will most likely be their favorite.
To get the best of both worlds, we think the Orthopedic LUX Bolster Bed by K9 Ballistics suits both preferences really well. It’s a double layer of supportive foam, surrounded by a waterproof liner, then covered in your choice of cozy, breathable, thick fabrics. Plus, it has a gentle bolster design, which keeps pups feeling surrounded and protected while they snooze. The covers are machine washable, a very important feature in a bed.
Stay tuned for more articles on puppy care in future Dog Parent posts.