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House Training

Poodle Puppy House Training

Overview

While housebreaking a puppy may feel like a huge obstacle that is time-consuming at best and an undertaking that may fail at worst, there are definitely  things that you can do to set your Poodle puppy up for success for potty training.

There are 2 main elements:
  • Having a clear plan in mind that will encourage a pup to learn quickly
  • Having reasonable expectations based on the age of your Poodle
In this section, we will go over all of the important steps for effective and fast training. 
Age to House Train

This is most certainly not something that you will want to put off. Whether you have a brand-new Poodle puppy or an older, adopted dog that needs to learn, it is best to begin right away. Every day that this is not taught, is another day that the dog has wrong information about what to do and this just in and of itself will make housebreaking harder. 

Having a Housebreaking Plan

It's not uncommon for a puppy to pee or have a bowel movement with very little warning. And without a plan in place, this is when you'll see owners scrambling and picking up the pup while he dribbles urine as he's being carried out the door.  While you will not catch every accident, you really will have much better success when you (and all members of the family) have a clear potty training plan in place.

House Training Tips for Success

There are several things that will help you housebreak your Poodle fairly quickly:

1) A designated area.  Dogs that are simply brought 'outside' for bathroom needs rarely have a good, clear understanding of what is expected. If they are out there long enough, they may very well go to the bathroom. However, your goal should be going above this and instilling the full concept of having one area for urination and elimination needs. 

Choose the area wisely; what may seem like a great spot in the summer may not work well in the winter. The bathroom area should be close to the home, not a spot that is used for anything else (play area, gardening, etc.)  and if possible, one without distractions (such as traffic, neighbors, etc.)

Within the chosen area, allow your Poodle to choose the exact spot that he prefers.  Dogs that have a choice learn much faster and are more eager to follow the rules.  It is best to stand in the middle of the area with your puppy on a 6 to 8 foot leash. Allow him to circle around and, sniff. Some will then need time for the bladder to relax or for the bowel muscles to push out stool.  

2) Be ready at all times. Since young puppies have weak bladder and bowel muscles, they can often pee or poo with very little warning.  Whatever you need in order to bring your Poodle outside should be ready at the exit door. This will include  a pair of shoes, an appropriate coat or jacket depending on the weather, an umbrella in case it is raining,  a leash and even a book or magazine to thumb though while you wait.

3) Bring your Puppy outside often enough.  For the times that you are home, you will want to bring your Poodle to the designated area at the following times:
  • First thing in the morning
  • Any time right after the puppy wakes up from a nap
  • Every 2 hours for a 2 month old, every 3 hours for a 3 month old, every 4 hours for a 4 month old, etc.
  • 20 minutes after a full meal
  • 20 minutes before bedtime
4) Have the right set-up for when you are not home. Many owners worry that if they are away at work, how is the puppy to learn housebreaking rules.  In most cases, there is no cause for concern.  A young pup will have almost hourly needs, however as he matures he will be able to hold his needs for longer periods of time.

When home alone, have your Poodle in a comfortable gated off area or indoor canine playpen. Within that area, have a quality dog bed, toy pile, food & water.  In a far corner, away from the food and water, place down pee pads. The goal will not be to fully teach the pup to use the pads; soon he will hold his needs and only use the area outside. However, when placed within reach but away from the pup's possessions, there is a good chance that he/she will hit the mark. 

5) Give reward for housebreaking success but do not scold for accidents.  It would certainly make things easier if dogs understood what we were saying when we spoke full sentences after they did something that we didn't approve of. However, puppies that are rewarded for good deeds and quietly forgiven for accidents are able to pick up what the owner wishes for without any scolding. Please remember that you want your Poodle to respect you, not fear you. And while it may feel good to release a bit of steam if you find a puddle of pee, yelling or acting frustrated will only confused and stress a puppy that really has no idea why you are upset. 

6) Give your Poodle enough time.  While some puppies will instantly pee or poo, others need time. Owners that only give the pup only a few minutes may have trouble with the training. 

Since 5 minutes can feel like 20 if you are bored, cold or otherwise uncomfortable or antsy, plan ahead. Have an outdoor chair located right in the middle of the bathroom area and plan ahead to check your mail (or email) during these times.  It is recommended to give the puppy a good 15 minutes and if you just know that a bowel movement is due, give it 20. 

While on this note, one of the biggest problems that owners encounter is when a puppy won't pee in his spot no matter how long there, but will pee as soon as being brought back inside.  A good tip to fix this, should it happen often, is hold him after you come back inside (he won't pee on you); then head back out in about 10 minutes. 
7) Help the puppy's muscles grow stronger.  While young Poodles need to be taken out often (see above), if they are kept on that schedule as they mature, they will not have an opportunity to learn to hold their needs and bladder and bowel muscles will not strengthen as they otherwise would.  As you puppy grows older, stretch out the periods of time in between taking him out. 

8) Clean accidents properly.  While the carpet may look clean after you scrub it with dish soap and a sturdy brush, two things will happen if you do not use the right cleaning products:  The heavy scent may cause a dog that is marking to mark again in that very same spot and in all cases, traces of scent will linger behind which sends a signal to a dog to use that area once again as it has been 'claimed' as a bathroom spot.  Using a quality enzyme cleaning product will resolve both of these possible issues.  *** If you would like recommendations for effective accident cleansers, look to 'Cleaning Supplies' in the Poodle Specialty Shoppe.
9) Know when to respond at night.  Puppies are terrific at making whining noises and barking in the middle of the night, without letting us know if they need to go to the bathroom or are just bored and wanting some attention.  

If a puppy pees and poos before bedtime, it is far more likely that he wants your company as opposed to having a real need.  However, it is always best to be safe than sorry.  The important element is that this be done in a very serious manner without any play or other interaction.  Keep lights low, bring your Poodle puppy directly to his spot, wait the allotted time without speaking (other than praise if the deed is done) and then bring him right back. A puppy will soon learn that barking for attention at night does not bring about any interaction that would seem worthy of making a fuss but that alerting you in regard to bathroom needs does result in praise and a quick treat.
10)  Bathroom needs should come before walks. It's a common occurrence for owners to bring their Poodle for a walk in the neighborhood and just let the puppy go to the bathroom along the way. However, this is a missed opportunity for a house training lesson. Bring your Poodle to his spot first and then bring him for his exercise.
A Final Word

While you will need a bit of patience during this time, with a good plan and lots of enthusiasm from you, your Poodle puppy should be completely house trained with a few months.  After you feel that he is fully trained, so still bring him out often enough and continue to offer praise to reinforce the lessons that have been learned.
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