Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gus's Corner: Potty Training! by Dr. Rebecca Abrams, DVM

Our major focus the first week has been letting the puppy adjust to his new home and house training.  I decided to do direct crate training since it seems to be the most efficient way to fully house train a puppy.  I reviewed the basics in the Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care Puppy Handbook.  The other option is to use potty pads or paper train, which is a two step process.  You first teach the pup to use papers then transition them to going outside.  The downside of using pads is that they may not get fully housebroken if they are accustomed to having an indoor toilet.  Since Joe works out of a home office, he was able to take Gus outside to empty his bladder in the middle of the day.   

We keep Gus in an exercise pen in the kitchen with a bed and chew toys when we are not directly supervising him.  This way he learns to chew on his toys only, rather than the rug, furniture, and everything else he can reach.  Except for first thing in the morning, Gus has not told us when he needs to go potty, instead we have to try to anticipate when he needs to go.  Every time he starts quickly sniffing the ground, we take him out and say "outside". He is learning that he gets a treat when he does his business outside.  After a few days of having Gus, a storm came, and it rained and rained and rained and our yard turned into a mud pit.  Now, in addition to taking Gus outside every hour, I had to wash off his nose and paws each time. Then Gus discovered how fun it is to dig in the mud!  It was getting ridiculous and we were getting tired.  He had a few accidents in the house, but we did the best we could.  Eventually we had a breakthrough - we set up an exercise pen on the patio which became his new toilet.  Now, whenever he needs to go to the bathroom, I take him straight to the pen.  There is nothing else to do in the pen but go potty so he doesn't have distractions. This has greatly improved house training.   It generally takes 4 to 6 weeks to house train a puppy and puppies cannot be fully house trained until they are at least 12 weeks old. We shall see how it goes!

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