Hogan had a great week! Look how patient he was waiting for the vet to come check him at his 9 week appointment yesterday:
Today’s post is pretty generic, it can apply to all dog breeds really. However, before I give you your “Life of an 8 Week Old Boxer” Recap, I figured we should first talk about crate training and potty training. Expect a post exclusively for boxers within the next few days!
Ahhh… the dreaded housebreaking. The one part of puppy parenthood that separates the boys from the men… or is it the pups from the dogs? Hmmm, so I can’t find the right terminology. Okay, scratch all that, point being… after reading this post and following the advice given, you will be a Professional Potty-Trainer!
1) Only Feed at Certain Times of Days
While your boxer’s water should be available to him as he needs it, try letting him eat only three times a day (puppies need to be fed more often than adults). This allows you more control over when he will need to use the bathroom. Puppies at this age should need to relieve themselves 15-30 minutes after eating. A good way to stimulate the need for a potty-break is having a play session directly after meal time.
2) Designate a Potty Spot
Dogs are attracted to the smell of past eliminations, so taking your puppy out to the same part of the yard encourages him to use the bathroom AND preserves the rest of your yard!
3) Use a Repetitive Phrase
We use “let’s go potty”. Every time I take Hogan out to the bathroom, I tell him, “let’s go potty”. Once outside, I repeat the phrase “go potty” until he does so.
Luckily for me, the breeder worked with her puppies on housebreaking before sending them home. When I got Hogan, he already knew going to the bathroom was the first order of business.
4) Invest in a Clicker
A clicker is a great tool for training, including housebreaking. Go ahead and purchase one (about $2 at PetsMart), because all of my training articles will use this method.
Once your puppy has successfully COMPLETED using the bathroom, immediately “click” and give him a mini-treat. It’s important you wait until he is completely done pottying before clicking. Any sooner and you could distract him from finishing his business. If you use the clicker correctly and consistently, your puppy will catch on to the whole idea much quicker.
5) Shower With Praise
Dogs are people pleasers (especially boxers) and they love knowing when they have done something right. Make every successful outdoor-potty a celebration! Go overboard. It will feel silly and you will probably be self conscious that your neighbors can hear you, but it will pay off, promise.
6) The Backyard is for Business, Not Pleasure
You want your puppy to associate going outside with using the bathroom, not play time (for now).
Encourage your puppy to focus on the task at hand. If after 10 minutes he has still not taken care of business, bring him back inside and either place him in his crate or keep a very close eye on him.
7) Recognize the Tell-Tale Signs of an Accident Waiting To Happen
You can almost always tell when a boxer needs to poop. He will start sniffing around with his tail sticking straight out. His hind legs will become bow-legged as he walks and the area beneath his tail will swell. Take your puppy out immediately!
Catching a puppy before he pees is the more complicated manner. Until about 12 weeks of age, puppies have little to no control over “holding-it”. There have been a few times where me and Hogan have been playing when without warning, he just starts peeing. My best advice is:
A) Take your puppy out about 10-15 minutes after he drinks water.
B) Take your puppy out after each play session or nap.
C) Keep your puppy in areas of the house with easy to clean floors.
8) DO NOT Beat or Scream at Your Puppy When Accidents DO Occur
This is all new for him. Did your teachers rub you face in your paper if you made a bad grade? No! Same goes for puppies. Give him a chance to actually learn what is expected. When catching a puppy in the act, sternly (but not angrily) say “NO” and put him outside in the designated potty area. Tell him “go potty” (or whatever key phrase you use) and leave him outside for at least 10 minutes.
*Practice Prevention, Not Punishment*
9) Do Not Punish For Past Actions
If you find a mess in your house, but didn’t catch your puppy in the act, do not drag him over to it and show him how angry you are. Your puppy will realize that you are angry about the “mess”, but will not realize it was the ACT of making the mess that is the issue. Using this technique will not reinforce him to use the bathroom outside, rather, it will reinforce the idea to hide his messes more strategically in the future.
Only show your displeasure if you actually catch your puppy pottying in the house.
9) Remember, These Things Don’t Happen Overnight
Don’t expect your puppy to be FULLY house trained until about 4-6 months.
Follow these steps and next thing you know your puppy will be picking up after himself!
Okay maybe not, but he WILL go potty outside!