As a kid growing up, we did not always have a dog, or any animal for that matter, to play with. Somewhere around my 15th birthday, my dad walked in the house one day, carrying a tiny black puppy, surprising the whole family. I had never known my father to be a “pet” person per say, and I could see my mom’s eyes cringe a bit knowing this, wondering who was going to be the one taking care of this tiny four legged fluff ball. While my dad worked all day, and with us kids gone to school and busy with random activities, she knew she would be the primary caretaker, so finding a way to keep the house in order, was top of her list.
Training the puppy turned out to be a lot of us training ourselves. It was all hands-on deck to get the pup prepared to live in a functioning home and not to (literally and physically) pee all over the harmony of it. So, we developed a plan and with the right tactics, Ferdinand, our sweet cuddly pup, became a functioning family member sooner than we thought possible!
Rule One – Much like children, puppies need to start their life with a bit of a stricter schedule. Feedings, potty breaks, even play time needs to be regulated so that they don’t feel they are just running a free for all, barking and pawing at the door to get what they want the moment they feel like it. They (and their bladders) were not born understanding patience, so they must be taught. We alternated days getting up with the pup at set times during the night and early morning. Each week, the time between bathroom breaks would extend by 30 minutes, then an hour. He was kennel trained at night and that seemed to speed up the process.
Rule Two – We only used the “pee pads” or newspaper in case of emergency. Once animals develop a habit, it can be hard to break them of, especially if they are the stubborn type. While we picked certain areas outside, leaving a location for him indoors, while seemingly great for accidents, was not so much for keeping him running to the door when it was time. After his initial puppydom, we took the pads out altogether (4 weeks approximately) and hung a bell on the door which we spent many more weeks training him to “ring” when he wanted out for the potty. We did this by chiming it ourselves during the bathroom breaks and working him with positive reinforcements (aka treats) to help him along in his learning.
Rule Three – We did not scold. Sure, our first instinct every time he had an accident was to yell out but startling him seemed more detrimental and scared. This can make the process harder we were told by our vet. Instead, when an accident occurred, we would pick him up, ring the bell, and place him outside to remind him of where his “spot” was.