A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘raising puppies’

House Training 101

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about raising two young puppies at the same time.  Many people have been asking me how I manage to house train both puppies at once.  My answer:  management, vigilance, consistency, commitment,  and patience.  It’s not easy, but it’s doable.

There are so many approaches to house training.  I have house trained five dogs withing the past three years, and each dog was different.  The last dog I house trained, Athena, was impossible, and I thought she would never learn.  In fact, I thought Athena was a real ditz, well, she just won Novice obedience with “High in Trial” and is completely and reliably house trained. So, go figure!

Anyway, back to the business at hand.  I am relying on the puppies’ instinct to relieve themselves in places far away from where they sleep and eat.  I manage them by kenneling them in an outdoor kennel with a run while I’m at work.  The kennel is roomy and made from concrete, and the run has pavement and grass.  The puppies potty in the grass and very rarely mess in the kennel itself (they did that once when my gardner accidentally locked them in the kennel).  At night the puppies sleep in separate crates that are just large enough for them to stand up, turn around in, and stretch out to sleep.  Anything larger will allow them to pee/poop in one section of the crate and sleep in another.  That defeats the whole process.

House training is all about getting the puppy to understand that the human’s house is a place for eating and sleeping, and all pottying must be done in the yard. It’s just like life in the outdoor kennel and the crate, only difference is that the human has a bigger kennel.

The puppies NEVER have the full run of the house, and are never in the house unless they are closely supervised.  One has to be vigilant during the house training months. When I come home, the puppies come into the house, but not before I take them into the yard and watch to see that they potty.  Once in the house, I have to watch them like a hawk.  Although they have just been to the bathroom, there’s nothing like an exciting game of “catch-me-if-you-can” around the dinning table to make a puppy need to go quickly. 

I let the puppies out frequently, like every half-hour for now, because they are only 11 weeks old.  Many times, though, they do not need to go, so I will probably let them out every hour instead.  I ALWAYS go into the yard with the pups, and watch to see who has gone to the bathroom.  Initially I took the pups out on leash until they quickly learned that they must go potty first, then play.  At 11 weeks they no longer go out on leash, but I still go with them.

At night the puppies sleep in the house in separate crates.  Gretchen sleeps in my bedroom, and Tuvok sleeps in the larger crate in the living room.  If I limit the puppies’ food and water intake after 8:00pm, and let them out for the last time between 9:30-10:00pm, they will sleep through the night until 6:00am.

Neither Tuvok nor Gretchen have had an accident in the house since they were six weeks old.  I do not allow accidents to happen.  I anticipate when they might need to go, and take them out before they start frantically sniffing the floor for a suitable spot.

The puppies have a schedule and routine that is consistent.  They go outside right after they’ve eaten, and after they’ve napped.  They go outside first thing in the morning.

In the mornings when I let them out, before all the other dogs, we don’t stop to play or greet, there’s no time.  We head straight out the door where they immediately pee.  They are accustomed to this routine, and know that everytime they go into the yard, they must go potty.

House training takes commitment.  Once you make the decision to house train your dog, you must stick with the process until the dog is reliable, and do not give the dog the opportunity to “fail” at it.  House training comes with practice for the humans; you get better at training the more times you have to do it.  Once you are clear of what you want from the dog, and the dog understands what to do, the path will be relatively smooth.

If accidents happen, don’t beat yourself up (or the dog), just be more vigilant in future.  Before long your dog will be able to be in the house without making a mess.

I will be posting 10 tips for house training on this blog very soon, so stay tuned.

Attempting the Impossible

I must be either very brave, overly sentimental, or completely cuckoo.  I’ve decided to keep not one, but TWO puppies, so I’m now raising two 9-week old German Shepherd puppies!  Yes, I know, it’s practically impossible to do this, but I’m gonna try.

My original plan was to keep the white male from my litter because he shows so much promise as a future obedience dog, but I just couldn’t let go of the black and gold girl, who was the “odd” puppy among a litter of white German Shepherds. 

This will be an adventure, that’s for sure.  Right now the focus is housetraining.  The puppies sleep in an indoor pen, which isn’t ideal because it’s big enough for them to go potty in, and they do precisely that during the night.  However, they get supervised play time in the house when I’m home, and they haven’t had any accidents in the house for two weeks now.  I count that as significant progress!

During the day they stay in an outdoor kennel and when I come home I lean over the gate and scoop up one puppy, put on his or her collar and leash and we go for a walk around the yard before coming inside.  Well today I had my clicker attached to one of those spiral, plastic, stetchy thingys around my wrist, and as I bend down to pick up the black and gold puppy (Gretchen), the male  (Tuvok) decided to grab hold of the clicker, and WOULD HE LET GO??? Not a chance. 

So there I am lifting Gretchen higher and higher over the gate, while Tuvok has the clicker in his mouth stretching out the thingy around my wrist.  Then, he can’t hold on anymore and lets it go.  It flies upwards and whacks me in the face.  Of course the words that came out of my mouth cannot be written here because minors read these posts, that I know for a fact!

Now I’m sitting here typing away and nursing a sore face.  Yes, I know, I shouldn’t complain.  Nobody told me to keep two puppies.  I suppose it’s like having twin toddlers of the two-footed variety without anyone to help.  I make myself dizzy spinning around trying to keep both puppies within sight.

Puppy Chronicles–Day 42

Sunday, October 4, 2oo9

Puppies Day 42 007

“I’m NOT sure I really like this arrangement.  Where’s Mom?”







Cody spends less time with the puppies now; in fact, she spends her time avoiding them, but when she is in the same room with them, she “cows” them by biting their heads.  They all seek cover under the nearest piece of furniture when she does this.  I don’t know why she does it.  No one seems to know.  Most disturbing of all, when the puppies play rough she doesn’t intervene.

Now that the puppies’ teeth are in, and they are sharp, Cody has no interest in nursing.  It is amusing to watch the babies chasing after mom trying to grab hold of a nipple.  Cody makes the mistake of sitting down and they all latch on.  Then she feels the teeth, jumps up, and tries to beat a hasty retreat with the puppies still attached!

They spend a few hours in the kennel outside this morning, that is, until the clouds rolled in and the winds picked up.  A storm was definitely brewing, and I didn’t want to leave the puppies outside by themselves.  They didn’t like the idea of being outside, and screamed for a bit, then went to sleep.

I brought food outside for them and two puppies gobbled it down, by the time the other puppy realized that she was hungry, it was too late:  food was all gone.  

During the days they play in the living room when I’m home, but when there’s no one to watch them, they have a small pen where they go.  Mom doesn’t always stay with them, but I’ve noticed that they scream when they’ve gone potty in their space and need it cleaned up.  As soon as Cody cleans up, they are all happy once more.

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