The bad news is your puppy will not housebreak herself. Housebreaking takes a time, focus, and the effort of understanding and consistent direction on your part. When you can control the consistent (you giving permission to go) conditioning and repetitive (create a routine so your puppy learns what to pay attention to) exercises for several weeks that your puppy becomes familiar with his routine. It may take up to six months (but generally just a couple of weeks if you are disciplined and pay attention to there little signals) before she can be 100% housebroken. Your puppy must learn to you for guidance and it is up to you to provide it.
Be sure your puppy if free of intestinal parasites. Parasites (worms) cause puppies to have loose and irregular bowel movements, making housebreaking difficult to impossible. Therefore follow closely the treatment plan we have discussed in another section and any special instructions you Vet gives.
It is a natural instinct for puppies to seek an area away from their den to relieve themselves. Therefore, it is wise to begin by restricting your puppy’s freedom in the house through the use of a pen or escape-proof crate. Without a crate or 24-hour-a-day direct supervision, your puppy will choose his den as well as his bathroom areas as her instincts tell them to do. Your guidance is critical for your puppy’s development and to your satisfaction as an owner.
At night, just before you go to bed, take the puppy outside and be sure to make them stay outside long enough to go because their first reaction will be to turn around and want back in. This doesn’t mean they do not have to go rather 1) they would rather be with you inside than outside alone and 2) they haven’t learned the signal that putting them outside means they should go). For the first couple of weeks take them out on their leash and observe and encourage them with a consistent request (for us we used “be a good girl”, others use “time to go”, “go potty” etc., the secret is to be consistent with whatever phrase you use) and kept repeating it until they went and then rewarded there behavior with lots of excited praise and a little treat if you are so inclined. We also used this command while on walks, because if you can get you dog to go on your command you will greatly simplify your life. See below for more information.
We train our dogs to “ring a bell” as a way to telling us “I have to go out”. This is not as difficult as it may sound. If you can control their activity then they will (especially this breed) learn this behavior faster that you think. Hang a large sleigh bell from the doorknob on each door they are allowed to go out. These bells can be purchased online on a variety of sites including www.FetchDog.comor www.poochiebells.com. When it’s time to take them to go out, take their little paw and hit the bell and get excited and then take or put them out. One of our little doodles learned this in one demonstration at 8 weeks old and never had to be shown again (you will be amazed how smart these dogs are), admittedly most will take a little more training but they will catch on quickly. By the way the doodle that learned in one demonstration now rings the bell for our other dogs when they need to go out (of course this impairs the others learning and repeating the process) she then proceeds to wait at the door and rings the bell when it’s time to let the others in.
Ok now there is a downside to having a dog so smart; while training them to ring the bell and when they performed it correctly we would let them in get all excited and then give them a small treat. Well it doesn’t take them long to figure out that “if I ring the bell” go outside and come it “I” get lots of attention and a “treat”. As you have probably guessed the “tables turned” on us and it took us a little while to figure out that just as we had “trained” them to ring the bell, they had trained us when they wanted attention and a treat. Simply ring the bell, go out & sit by the door for a minute then scratch to get in and low and behold the got what they wanted, there very own “trained” owner.
During the first couple of weeks of house training be sure to return them to their crate after letting them outside. Now and this is the hard part…do not give in to her if she cries or whines, because if you do, guess what, she has trained you again. Puppies are creatures of habit and if she learns that her fussing causes you to give in to his desires, you have just “taught” them that crying, barking or whining will get them out. Don’t forget to give her one last opportunity and time to go outside before you go to bed and don’t be in a hurry it will take a little time in the beginning.
If you do not have a confined area like a dog run to let them out in, then you should go out with them so they learn where “you” want them to go and also that’s Ok to go in your presence.
Training to go on command
Another thing we teach them at an early age is to go on command. This comes in very handy when you are away from home. When we knew it was about time to go we would put them on a leash and take them outside (not in there regular place) and walk them for a couple of minutes and then stop in a good area and say, “be a good girl” or “time to go”. We repeated these words over and over until they finally went and then gave her lots of excited praise. Well you say, “I tried this and she didn’t go”. (Wow you really thought they would pick it up the first time, guess how long it took your mother to “train” you.) Then return to the house put her back in the crate and repeat the process in 30 to 45 minutes. They can’t hold it forever and at some point it will happen and you will get excited. Remember it is the repetition that teaches them and this is a wonderful command for them to learn because now even when you are away from home you control when and where they go. This is especially true if you like your mini-goldendoodle to along with you on your daily errands or to work.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS clean up after your dog, good owners are also good citizens and your neighbors will be happy to see you walking your dog instead of being frustrated by the mess you leave.
Many people today continue to use the old method of laying newspaper down on the kitchen floor and encouraging their puppy to go on the newspaper. Not a good idea as it teaches them that it’s ok to go in the house, and particularly in a kitchen where you and she eats. Dogs by nature do not want to go where the live or eat.
Note: Newspapers or Wee Wee pads can be used by people who must leave their puppies at home alone while they are at work and have no one to let the puppy out to relieve herself. Use a exercise pen or other confined area, putting his bedding at the opposite end of the area. As she becomes old enough (6-7 months), you can begin removing the pads on the days when you are at home. Replace the pad with bedding materials. If the papers are not there she will learn to hold the need to go much longer. At these times you can begin to teach your dog to wait several hours between “time to go” trips, building up to 5 to 8 hours by the time she is 7 to 8 months old.
Any time your pup “takes care of there business” outside, she deserves some free time in the house to play ball or just wander around being with you. This will help your puppy appreciate her responsibility to relieve herself outdoors. Early on this time should be supervised so that she does not get into mischief or make a mistake. No puppy will immediately succeed at housebreaking. All puppies will have accidents now and then, but you must catch them in the act to “correct” them. Please do not yell at them hours later (or even more that a few minutes) as I will most assuredly confuse them. If she observes me cleaning up a mess I will say “bad girl’ in a low and disappointed voice. As each day goes by, allow your pup a little more freedom between bathroom exercises to see if he runs to the door when he needs to go. Don’t be surprised, however, if she chooses to wander off into the dining room and squat behind the table. Instead, be ready for it and reprimand her as she begins to squat. This reprimand should consist of no more than a stern “NO,” followed by taking her outdoors. Also pay attention to the “little signs” i.e. becoming agitated, pacing back and forth, staring at the door or at you. If it looks like they are trying to tell you something, then they usually are and at that moment do not wait until the next commercial or for you to finish what you are doing, react immediately in order to ensure success.
Once your puppy is a few months old you can begin regulating the feeding schedule and you will quickly discover that she will have a need to relieve herself at approximately the same times each day. For example, for an 8 week old puppy, if your last feeding is 5:00 PM, your puppy will usually need to go outside within fifteen to twenty minutes and will have his last bowel movement for the night sometime between 8 and 11 PM. As you proceed with housebreaking, stretch the day’s trips outside further apart each week, by 15 minute intervals, so that your puppy has to control his bathroom necessities. Soon you will be able to sleep in on some occasions, especially as your puppy becomes older. Small breed puppies will have to go out more often than others.
Housebreaking discipline: Catching your puppy in the act of doing something that you do not approve of will require immediate attention in the form of discipline, but only if you catch her in the act. Any discipline after the fact will only confuse your puppy and cause her to unjustly fear you or at least be concerned when you’re going to scold them again. Corrections should be swift and to the point, consisting of a soft spank on the bottom or an easy shake of the scruff on her neck saying “NO” followed by taking her out to the correct area to complete or finish what she attempted to do in the house then followed by excited praise.
A common mistake made by new owners is correcting a puppy after the fact. Example: you come home from work and find your puppy had messed on the floor in the house. You discipline her by rubbing his nose in it or yelling at her. This may make you feel better, but, because your pup is not capable of understanding or associating the correction with the crime, it will have little or even a negative impact on her. The only way corrections will work is if you catch your puppy in the act and removing them to the proper area. But remember some of the behavior problems are on you not your puppy. As your puppy begins to learn to go outside they will exhibit “signs” i.e. pacing, walking around by the door or simply looking a little distressed. Then, YOU must react quickly before the mistake happens and in case you don’t know this, they don’t understand “just wait a minute”, “give me a second” or “I’ll be right there”. If the mistake happens after that, it’s on you not the dog. However you can still take them to the proper area and simple bit of encouragement.
Summary of Basic Rules for Housebreaking:
1. Be sure your puppy is free of worms and parasites by following the treatment plan suggested by your Vet.
2. Use an exercise pen, cage or crate when you cannot directly supervise your puppy. Remove any collars and leaches before crating.
3. Stay outside with your puppy especially for the first couple of weeks so that you can praise her while she is learning the correct habits.
4. Give your puppy ample time to do his business but also teach her the words “time to go” or whatever you like to say (just be consistent and do not use commands that have other meanings). You can gently pull on the leash if she is wasting time sniffing too long or just wandering around.
5. After a successful trip outside, play with your puppy, or allow her to wander around the house with you.
6. Follow the time schedule faithfully (feed, water, and outside trips), using the same times daily.
7. Do not feed your puppy table scraps or between meal snacks, except those that will not spoil his appetite, such dog biscuits or a rawhide chew.
8. Its best not give your puppy water within an hour of bedtime unless heat warrants it.
9. We leave food (kibble) out pretty much full time for the first several of months and observe their eating habits. Most of our dogs are fine with kibble out all day and do not over eat. Others will over eat and you must regulate their food intake. Overweight dogs will have more health problems.
7. Do not reprimand her for an accident unless you catch her in the act.
8. Be patient. Remember its repetition, persistency and consistency that does the job. Put the effort into you new puppy during the first few months and you will develop a dog that’s a pleasure to be around for a lifetime.
Cleaning up after the fact: All puppy and dog accidents should be cleaned as quickly as possible using a mild solution of ammonia, water and vinegar this masks the odor and prevents your puppy from smelling the soiled area and repeating his action. Other cleaning products are available at your pet and grocery stores. If cleaning off carpet (especially urine) soak up as much as possible with paper towels or rags (even if it means using a lot of paper towels). Then even after the paper towel doesn’t appear to be picking up any more fluids, I place a folded towel or two on the spot with a little weight (a filled jar or even your cleaning fluid) sat on top for another 10 minutes or so and you will be surprised more fluid will come out. Then clean as directed. If you are concerned about your carpet, test the cleaner in a remote place on the carpet. We have used top of the line “Oxy” type products that say “carpet safe” only to discover they left a spot worse than the urine.