TRACIE HOTCHNER: HOUSE TRAINING A PUPPY MEANS BEING A HELICOPTERING PET PARENT

puppy1A fundamental rule of house training a puppy successfully and quickly is that you should know at all times exactly where your puppy is – which isn’t difficult, since there are really only three places the puppy should ever be during the house-training period. First, she can be in her crate (resting after playing or waiting for you to take her out). Second, she can be outside with you relieving herself. Third, she might be eating (Halo Spot’s Stew for Puppies is tip top!) – while you watch, waiting to take her right outside when she finishes.

The best way to know the puppy’s whereabouts at all times is to plan to keep her with you. The “house rule” needs to be that when the puppy is out of her crate, she cannot be left unattended. Not even for a second.. Keep the puppy’s leash tied to your belt or loop it around your wrist. You go to the bathroom, she goes with you. You sit down to eat or read the paper, she’s right there on her leash beside your chair— and when she’s not with you, she’s in her crate.

There has to be a basic, inviolate rule about how to utilize the crate for house-training: the puppy NEVER roams free in the house. No Exceptions. None. She is in that crate unless your full attention is on her, and full attention means just that—a totally focused “quality time” of playing, grooming, feeding and/or taking her for a walk. In humans, we are critical of that kind of helicopter parenting, but with puppies it is a necessary element of succssful housetraining.

Here’s the perspective: anytime she is not under your direct control and she eliminates in the house, she has practiced (and therefore reinforced) that behavior. You have set back your house-training progress. This cannot happen if the puppy is in her crate or under close supervision. It’s cruel to a puppy to be inconsistent – you are setting her up for failure by giving her a freedom she can’t yet handle. By keeping her right at your side you remove the opportunity to pee anywhere, and you have gone a long way to developing house-training habits.

Take the pup out to her potty area frequently and give her generous praise and an especially delicious treat immediately after she has relieved herself. A puppy’s accomplishment in relieving herself outdoors should be the cause of celebration and congratulatory treats. Halo’s Liv-a-Little freeze-dried protein treats fall into the category of Super Dooper “high value” treats and should be part of your toolbox in raising the best puppy you possibly can.

Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.

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