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  By: Colleen Paige

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Housetraining Made Easy

Potty troubles with a new puppy can leave even the most patient person feeling frustrated and ready to call it quits. Letís face it, the thoughts that you once had about bringing home a cute little puppy have now faded into the subject of how to artistically apply plastic wrap to his bottom so your friends wonít notice! Rest assured you are not alone. No one who owns or has owned a puppy has been able to escape the dreaded ďPee Pee Machine.Ē

The first and most important thing to remember about training your puppy in proper elimination techniques is not to yell or become angry. Your anger just frightens him and makes him likely to lose control of his bladder. It also makes him fearful about going potty in the house, which doesnít solve your problem at all because now he will just learn to hide it from you. This behavior only perpetuates the problem and creates a vicious cycle. Your puppy will have a 3-second memory of everything he does. For instance, if you leave him in the living room to run to the phone and arenít watching him, he very well may go potty. If you find this spot an hour later and rub his nose or face into it, you are only ruining the trust and bond with your puppy. He has absolutely no clue about why you are angry and all he knows is that you have chosen to shove his face into the carpet. If you cannot catch him in the act, youíll need to just clean it up and forget about it. Any discipline after that will just lead to his fearing you because he wonít understand why you are angry.

Itís also possible that your puppy may have a UTI which stands for Urinary Tract Infection. If this is the case, you will most likely find your puppy has peed minimally in several spots and seems to circle the room sniffing for a spot to eliminate quite frequently. If you suspect that your puppy may have a UTI, call your vet to schedule an exam. Females seem to have more of a problem with this but it can affect both sexes. Itís also harder to detect in males because they mark their territory, so they eliminate on every tree along the walk...and then it can be difficult to determine if itís a UTI or just normal marking. Untreated UTIís can turn into a more serious problem whereby the infection can spread to the kidneys and then youíll have one sick puppy on your hands.

Another thing you should be doing as part of your potty regimen is to double up on potty runs outside. I am constantly telling my clients that the more they work with their dog, the faster heíll be trained and this applies to ANY problem. I know it might not be fun but itíll be worth it because youíll spend half the time you would have if you didnít. Another helpful hint is the use of baby gates. This will help you contain the puppy in the kitchen where he cannot soak the carpet with urine when you are unable to watch him every moment. Itís very important not to let your puppy on the carpet anywhere in house unless you can devote 100% of your undivided attention to him. Plain and simple.

Once youíve caught your puppy in the act or within 3 seconds after the act, pick him up and say calmly but firmly without raising your voice or sounding angry ďNo! Potty OutsideĒ. Once you have issued this command, you will then immediately take your puppy outside, put a leash on him and lead him to a spot youíve designated for him. You should then repeat over and over again ďgo potty!Ē ďgo potty!Ē in a friendly tone. I would give your puppy a good five to ten minutes for this (weather permitting of course) and if he doesnít go, itís ok, just try again later. If he does go potty, praise him with much exuberance, the kind that will make your neighbors think you just won the lottery. Make it a huge deal and even offer him a treat or throw a ball for him. Once you can give him a positive and fun association with going potty outside, he will want that experience again and will soon learn how to get it. One helpful hint for this process is putting some feces you may find in the house, in the spot outside that you have designated for him. When he encounters this it will help to reinforce that this is the spot for him to eliminate in. If you have any urine soaked housebreaking pads, you could leave one outside in his spot and that will work just as well. You will need to remove it as soon as he goes potty on his own in that area.

All puppies need to be taught to go outside and until they are 16 weeks of age, itís very common to have potty problems. If however, housebreaking has become a repetitive problem over a period of months and your puppy is pushing five to six months old, then it means that you havenít removed enough of the odor in the carpet. This applies to feces as well as urine. Your puppy has the capability to detect odor 1000 times better than you. So just because you canít smell it doesnít mean itís not there.

Natureís Miracle and other enzyme-based odor removers work well but only if you let it dry completely. Often, a puppy will be let back into the room before the spot is dry, smell the remaining odor, which triggers the bladder or bowels to get moving and the problem starts all over again. You must remove the puppy from the area, let the treated spot dry completely and then vacuum before you let the puppy back into that area. You must however make sure there are no other dry urine spots in that area to trigger a response. You can use a black light (best used at night) to detect urine stains, which will assist you in doing a thorough cleaning job.

At night itís wise to crate your puppy or put him in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room where there is no carpet he can soak. I would give him a big stuffed animal to cuddle up to if he is not in a crate at night. This will make him feel like heís got his mommy or a sibling with him and will help him to sleep better and get through the night without too much loneliness. Once you have doubled up on his potty runs and completely eliminated the odor in the carpets, you should find peace at last.

Colleen Paige is an animal behaviorist, author, radio and TV personality and founder of ďStorytime with SpotĒ a program which helps academically challenged children learn how to read. Colleen resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband, son and dog, Tinre, information about Colleen, please visit her web site at

Photographs by Cami Johnson,