House Training

CoCo was the first dog I had after I moved away from home. I read many books about Maltese/dogs before I brought him home, even though I was already quite familiar with this breed since I grew up with a Maltese, named Migo. I found those books to be very helpful in many cases, but when it came to the house training part, I found that none of the books I read mentioned that we can train our puppies to use their own "washroom!" So, I guess not many people know that puppies can be trained to "go" whenever they need to (at the right place, of course!) I knew that dogs could be trained this way because my mother trained Migo to use the washroom, so she doesn’t have to take her out every day. I trained CoCo to do so, too!

Maltese are very intelligent and clean dogs (most of them, anyways)! They are pretty easy to train (some dogs are harder to train than the others but they all will learn eventually!). The most important part of house training is your patience! Remember, these are "babies" that you are dealing with!

First, you have to decide upon a place for the puppy to use as his own "washroom." CoCo used a cage and all our dogs since have used a box or house training pads. The advantage of the grate is that it keeps their feet from getting wet, which can happen even with the most absorbent training pad. Dogs have to be trained to step on the crate, as it feels funny under their paws and they won't like it at first.

Second, you have to let the puppy know that is his washroom! How? Well, what I did was take CoCo there about every 3 hours and after he finished drinking or eating. And, I would always say the command word(s) with a nice tone of voice. Then, I would wait until he did his business, and then praise him and let him leave the washroom. If he doesn’t pee after 10 minutes or so, he probably won’t if you wait longer. So, bring him back in another 10 minutes. To make your life easier you may also want to drop some kind of puppy training solution (most pet shops/supply stores sell it) in his washroom. The first few nights, I had to wake myself up around 3 am and take CoCo to his washroom and ask him to pee. Then, one night I found he woke himself up and went there all by himself! I was so proud of my boy!

When my puppies have an accident on the carpet, and I catch them in the act, I take them to their bathroom and ask them to pee. They don't get a treat if they've gone in the wrong spot. They learn pretty fast, especially if your treats are delicious. If I don't notice until after the fact, I just ignore the dog and clean it up.

And that’s it! Repeat this method as necessary. You can even modify it a little bit to fit your dog. For example, you may combine kennel training with it, since some dogs are more comfortable staying in a kennel when their human companions are not around. It may sound like an awful lot of work, but that is not really true. It only took CoCo about 4 days to learn the concept! And now we only go out to play when we want to (CoCo doesn’t like cold and rain!). Just think about how much less trouble you will have in the future and then you’ll feel better when you are trying to get up at 3 in the morning while training your baby.

Warning: Does this sound simple? It both is and is not as easy as it sounds. The trick is to be persistent and patient - which can be hard when your carpet is getting peed on! Some dogs are harder to train, like my rescue Maltese, Sunny! It took him about 3 months to learn - and he wasn't 100% for years! It’s not that he is dumber. It’s just because he was not trained by his previous owners and he already had the bad habit when he came to my place. It could also be that he was born in a puppy mill and he saw that his mom didn't need to go anywhere else to "do her business" and she can just "go" whenever she needs to... so he learned when he was a pup. It was not easy for him to adjust himself to the new rules in a short period of time. Also, he spent most of his time in his kennel before he came to our place (unlike CoCo, who never used his for anything but a washroom), so he couldn’t get used to it as a bathroom. I had to take the top off of it before he began to see it as a place to do his business. The reason to have the plastic tray (litter) and/or the kennel is to let the dog associate the place, but not just the papers, with the concept of the washroom . Otherwise, the dog may "go" on any kind of paper (or on any thing with the similar material) he/she finds on the floor.

By the way, some dogs tend to "have accident" when they demand attention from the owners, so if you think your dog is like that, please ignore your dog when they have the accident at the wrong place, and then clean up quietly without giving any attention to the dog (note: some dogs don't care if the attention is negative or positive as long as they are getting some). In this case, you just have to take the dog to the right spot with the scheduled times every day and give him/her lots of attention when he/she is doing the right thing. You may also want to consider signing up for some obedience training classes on the weekends. This is the best way to give your dog the positive attention and tire the dog out (then you'll have a nice & quiet evening). Good luck!

Last, if you don't have time to watch your dog during the training period and he is a "marker" then you may want to consider a "cummerbund" for him.  It is NOT a solution to the house training problem but it sure is a helper.  Your dog is not supposed to wet himself when he has "cummerbund" on him. So, when he marks (and you see it) take the cummerbund off & hand wash it quickly and put it back on him (yes, while it's wet).  He will get the message really quick.  Or, if you don't care if he wets himself inside the cummerbund... then affix a feminine pad inside the cummerbund so it absorbs the urine - a do-it-yourself doggie diaper. Don't leave anything wet on your dog for very long, as they will get a rash.
I got Sundog's from: Problem Pee'er Cumberbuns

Carpet Cleaners That Actually Work: - Natural's Miracle - That Orange Stuff or the similar product like: TKO Orange Cleaner

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Published on: 2003-12-31