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House Training

Poodle Puppy House Training


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. 

Keep in mind that new puppies should not be brought outside to public areas or even your yard (if there is a chance that other dogs have been there) until the full rounds of puppy vaccinations are complete.  Each vet schedule is slightly different; however, in general this is done by about the 4 month mark. If you are not sure, check with your vet. 

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.

We would suggest reviewing what is needed, obtaining all of the necessities to be properly prepped, and then beginning. 

What is Needed Before You Begin

There are a few things that you will need in order for housebreaking to be successful:

#1 A supervision method. 

This is vital. Puppies or dog that have free rein in the house will be exceptionally hard to train. 

When you are home and are able to have your Poodle right by your side, use the tethering method. This means that your Poodle will be wearing a harness (not a collar, since this can cause neck injury) and will be on leash. The leash should be short and it should have a soft-looped handle, so that you can weave this through your belt loop or slip it over your wrist. 

When you are not home, or if you are home but cannot keep your Poodle near you, you'll need to keep your puppy or dog in a defined, secure area. 
  • Crates are not recommended; these are terribly confining and can cause a dog to feel both physically and emotionally stressed. Furthermore, they do not help with housebreaking; a dog will pee and poo when they need to. 
  • Gating off an entire room is also not recommended. This is too large of an area to do really do anything, and therefore there will still be pee and poo everywhere.
  • One of the best methods is to use an indoor canine playpen. These are sturdy, open-top pens that allow a Poodle to move around, play, have all his favorite belongings (food, water, toys, bed), but also keep messes contained. 
As a side note, these are great for separation anxiety, as they offer a secure 'den' that keeps all of a Poodle's aids right by them. And, these are perfect for the teething phase to keep a Poodle puppy from chewing apart the house. 
Recommended playpens to help with house training are below. These can be found with or without doors, and range from 24" (ideal for toy and miniature Poodles) to 48" (better for standards, especially if continued to be used as the puppy grows). 

If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 
#2 The Right Type of Training Treats

Puppies, and dogs of all ages, learn best when they have reason and motivation to perform any certain action. Giving a Poodle incentive to do something applies to potty training, perhaps, more than it does with any other single action. 

Once something is a learned behavior, it become automatic (though it is still nice to reinforce good behavior now and again). 

For housebreaking to happen quickly, you need to 1) give super-happy praise and simultaneously 2) offer the right type of reward. 

The training treat should be:

New - It should not be something that you give to your Poodle for regular snacks.  If you've found a great, all-natural and healthy snack that you'd like to keep giving, see if it comes in a different flavor. 

Small - House training treats need to be small. A puppy needs immediate satisfaction, and you cannot achieve this with something that a dog needs to sit down to chew on. 

Extra flavorful - It should be appealing to a Poodle sense of smell and sense of taste, offering a burst of flavor that will encourage the desire for more. And 'more' can only happen when the Poodle goes to the bathroom in the right area. 
Below are our top recommended training treats. These are all 100% all-natural, have no artificial coloring, flavoring, or preservatives, are properly sized, and are made in the USA. 

If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn the screen horizontal to see all 4. 

10 House Training Tips for Success 

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

1) Establish 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, clothing for your Poodle - should there be a need, 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) 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. 

5) Choose one dedicated phrase. Dogs learn best when they can associate a word with an action.  So, you'll want everyone in the house to be in agreement as to which word(s) will be used for housebreaking. It's best to keep it short, and have it be something that you do not feel uncomfortable saying in public. 

'Pitty-potty', 'Pee-poo', 'Get busy', and 'Go potty' are all effective and commonly used phrases. 

You will use this as you head outside 'Do you need to go potty?', while you're Poodle is going to the bathroom, 'Oh, you're going potty!', and immediately when your Poodle is done while palming over the reward, 'Good potty, good dog!'. 

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, soap does not eliminate enzymes that are in urine. And those lingering enzymes (you won't smell these, but your Poodle will) essentially scream 'This is the bathroom area!'. 

So, all areas that have been pee'd or poo'd on need to be cleaned with an enzyme cleanser. A good one to use is Sunny and Honey's Pet Stain & Odor Miracle Enzyme Cleaner; this is very effective and works on all types of flooring including hardwood, tile, and carpeting. 
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.

Housebreaking Exact Steps

This is exactly how to bring your Poodle out, what to say, and what to do:

1. Head outside with your Poodle on leash and harness, saying your chosen phrase (Let's go potty), and with the training treats in a small zipped plastic bag, kept in your pocket.

2. Lead your Poodle directly to the designated bathroom area, repeating the phrase. 

3. Stand in the middle of the designated area, allowing your Poodle to roam within the diameter and sniff around. Allow 10 to 15 minutes. 

4. If your Poodle pees or poos, without completely distracting your pup, mark the action with your chosen word said in a happy tone, (You're going potty).  During this time, be reaching for the training treat. 

5. As soon as your Poodle is done, bend to his level, give great praise in a super-enthusiastic voice (Good potty, oh, you are such a good dog!) while palming the treat for your Poodle to sniff and mouth. 

6. If your Poodle had a bowel movement, and you believe that there may be a urination need, remain outside for an additional 5 minutes.  

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, be sure to still bring him out often enough, and continue to offer praise to reinforce the lessons that have been learned.
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The Best Type of Toys for a Poodle - If you think of toys as tools, you'll see that certain ones can help with a range of issues.  See the top toys for teething, treat-release, chewing, boredom, and as aids when home alone. 
Giving a Poodle a Bath - Great tips and advice for successful baths that are beneficial to skin and coat. 
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