Crate Training - House Training
We probably receive more questions about house training problems than anything else. I wish we had a quick fix, but there just isn't one. We work on crate training while the puppies are in our training program, but because it is a mental and physical issue, no one can guarantee success in 30 days
Each puppy learns at its own pace. Some only have one accident in the house, and others may have problems for months or longer unfortunately. The most effective way to transition to house training for puppies is to start on crate training immediately.
There are several things that are important in helping puppies succeed. Young puppies are like babies - they often need to use the bathroom every time they wake up, eat, drink or even run across the room. We have noticed that smaller dogs can sometimes have more difficulty than large breed dogs. The key is a combination of patience, consistency and persistence.
-------------------------This is OUR preferred method. Everyone may not like crate-training and that's okay-------------------
If a puppy is healthy, and it is living in a climate-controlled environment, it generally shouldn't need food and water continuously throughout the day and evening. (Check with a veterinarian for health issues.) Generally, we feed puppies 2 or 3 times a day and give them water multiple times throughout the day until about 6pm. (If it is hot, and the puppy is spending a lot of time outside, this will need to be adjusted to account for dehydration risks.) Limiting food and water can help them learn to hold it better - instead of needing to go constantly. (The limiting of water is very similar to potty training a toddler - if a toddler is allowed to run around with a sippy cup all day, potty training is going to be very difficult.) Check with your veterinarian if you suspect a health issue.
When choosing a crate, the one used for crate training will probably not be the same one to use forever. This crate doesn't need to give the puppy too much room. Dogs don't normally like to use the bathroom where they sleep, so we want to work with that instinct. If the crate is too big, the puppy will use the bathroom on one side then try to go to the other side to sleep. Many people feel guilty about putting their puppies in crates. This doesn't have to be forever. With work, many dogs can learn to stay out in the house, but a crate can be comforting for dogs. Many of them learn to see it as a "safe place". The dog can go in the crate to relax. Giving treats and feeding the puppy in it's crate will help it learn to acclimate to the crate. We generally recommend that the crate is placed in a separate room away from lots of activity with a fan.
Puppies should be allowed to have the opportunity to use the bathroom very frequently. Help prevent accidents, by taking them out very often - even once an hour. This is not always an easy process, but it is what needs to be done. The idea is to catch them before they really need to go.
When the puppy goes out, if it does not use the bathroom, it should go back in the crate. If it does use the bathroom, then its reward is being allowed to be out of the crate. When the puppy is out, it should either be on a leash or watched very, very closely so it doesn't have the opportunity for an accident. This may sound harsh, but this is not something that lasts forever. This continues day and night - extending the time between going out as the puppy learns to hold it better.
When the puppy has an accident, there's no need to get mad. This is what puppies do. It just means that they need more work. Having a puppy isn't always easy, but if the work is done early, this problem shouldn't continue into adulthood.
We have heard about people who use puppy pads, paper train or even litter-box train puppies, but we don't do this. This makes a huge mess, and it our experience, it prolongs the process. Preventing the puppy from running all around a room is more effective, in our opinion. Many people work long hours and can't let their puppies out frequently. In this case, I would recommend having someone come to your house to take the puppy out multiple times a day. If this isn't possible, maybe it's not a good time for a puppy that isn't house-trained.
Older rescue dogs can also have a hard time adjusting. It can be especially difficult for these dogs because they may have years of bad habits. Even more patience is required.
As the puppy gets older, it should be able to go longer and longer between going outside, but expecting a puppy to go 8 hours without using the bathroom is unrealistic.
A short cut would be a great solution, but in 15 years of professional dog training, we haven't found anything that works better than crate training. With time, persistence, patience and dedication, most dogs can be crate trained. We often compare the process to potty training a toddler - each learns on its own time.
Check with your veterinarian if you suspect health issues. There may be conditions that make crate training crate more difficult.