Housebreaking Your New Puppy

interacting with dogs and puppies

The Key to Puppy Training Success is You!

Spend as much time with your puppy as possible during the first two to three weeks your puppy is home. Be consistent, patient, praise when appropriate, and be willing – for however long it takes – to invest the time and energy necessary to make this important training time a success. The effort you put forth now will be well worth it for the lifetime of your pup. You can keep up with training tips and tricks on our blog.

Buy a crate and during the first few weeks, keep your puppy in it whenever you are not playing, holding, or watching him explore his new surroundings. Spend as much time as you can with your pup, but when you can’t watch him, crating him can prevent mistakes from occurring. In addition to providing the safe, secure refuge your pup needs and wants, crates are critical to house training because as den animals, dogs are naturally inclined to not soil their bed. The most important thing dogs learn in a crate is that they can control their urge to eliminate until the proper time and situation.

Establish a schedule and don’t deviate from it. The “when” and “how” you house train needs to be consistent so make sure all family members follow the same guidelines. Pick a soiling spot in your yard and take your pup there on a lead when it is time to eliminate. The odor from previous visits to this spot will stimulate the urge to defecate and/or urinate. In the housebreaking process, it is a good idea to use the same word like “outside” when you are going out and “do your stuff” once you are outside. Consistent use of a word with an activity will help to build a level of communication between you and your pup. Be patient. Dogs may urinate or defecate more than once in one outing and not always right away. Don’t distract your pup from the job at hand. This is a business trip, not a social time.

Praise them for their success when the job is done.

Don’t mix business with pleasure. Wait until your pup has finished and then take him back inside and spend some time with him. You know there is little chance the pup will have to eliminate for a while so play with him and have a good time. The more time you spend with the pup, the better it is. Remember, they are still young and need to act like a pup, developing and learning about their new situation and environment. When you are finished playing, take one more trip outside and place the pup back in its crate.

Dogs are creatures of habit; they like to eat, sleep, and relieve themselves on a regular schedule. Establishing and maintaining a schedule is easy to do and gets easier as your puppy grows. Pay attention to your pup’s behavior so you can develop a schedule that works for both of you. First, learn when your pup naturally defecates – in the morning, at night, 30 minutes after eating, etc. Look at your schedule and determine what compromises need to be made to make this workable for everyone.

If you catch your puppy in the act of having an accident, tell him “No!” forcefully, pick him up and take him outside. If you don’t catch him, simply clean up the mess and scold yourself for not being available. Do not scold the puppy. Take him outside frequently and watch him very closely when he is inside. As soon as you see him pacing, sniffing around, turning in circles, or trying to sneak away, pick him up and take him outside. These are telltale signs that he needs to relieve himself.

Sample Schedule for a working family

For puppies 2-6 mos. old eating 2-4 meals per day; owner can get home at lunch. For those that have family members home during the day, the puppy should spend one three hour stretch in the crate and have more supervised interaction outside the crate than this schedule shows.

  • 7:00am Take pup out. Don’t wait until you shower or until the coffee is made.
  • 7:15 Kitchen playtime.
  • 7:30 Feed and water. Allow 15-20 min. for eating, then remove dish.
  • 8:00 Take pup out. Confine to crate when you leave; place safe chew toys in crate for entertainment. If you will remain home, allow puppy to have supervised playtime and take outside every 45-60 minutes to eliminate.
  • Noon Take pup out if arriving home on lunch break.
  • 12:15 Kitchen playtime.
  • 12:30 Feed and water.
  • 12:45 Take pup out.
  • 1:00 Confine to crate when leaving. If remaining home, this is a good time to have the puppy nap in the crate.
  • 4:00 Take pup out if home.
  • 5:00 Take pup out if arriving home from work.
  • 5:15 Kitchen playtime.
  • 5:30 Feed and water.
  • 5:45 Take pup out.
  • 6:00 Supervised playtime for rest of the evening taking pup out every 45-60 minutes.
  • 7:30 Feed and water.
  • 7:45 Take pup out.
  • 8:00 Keep puppy up and awake until time for bedtime taking pup out every 45-60 min.
  • 11:00 Take pup out . Confine to crate overnight.
  • This is just a sample schedule to give you an idea of the time involved in house training a puppy. When possible, your puppy should not be crated once you are home for the evening. This is when you spend quality time with him and work on basic obedience.

Puppy Care and Training

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  • FEEDING – Your puppy has been used to having free access to dry puppy food 24 hours a day. It is now time for your puppy to have regularly scheduled meals. You need to offer 4 meals a day for the first two weeks – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an evening snack. Your puppy may only nibble at these meals or may not be interested at all in some meals. You should make the meal available for 15 minutes. If the bowl is emptied, offer more. Offer water only at meal times until your puppy is going to the door to ask out. In two weeks, eliminate the evening snack. In another two weeks, eliminate lunch. Your puppy should be maintained on two meals for the rest of its life. PawTree is the food we feed and recommend.
  • TREATS/REWARDS – Use only treats that are nutritionally balanced. Your puppy can easily fill up on “junk food” during training sessions. PawTree has several healthy options for training treats.
  • THE FIRST WEEK – Your puppy can sleep through the night, but will not because of the transition and separation anxiety it will experience when going to a new home. Crate training is recommended. The first night is typically the most difficult and you should see improvement each night. You should walk your puppy as the last task before your bedtime. Make sure you give it ample time to eliminate. Then place the puppy in its crate with a towel or blanket and some toys. The crate should be just large enough for the puppy to stand up, turn around, and lay down. Let the puppy cry itself to sleep. It may wake up again and cry, but you should not take the puppy out of the crate until at least 3 hours have passed. Do not wake a sleeping puppy! Anytime after the 3 hour limit that the puppy wakes up crying, take it out to eliminate and then put the puppy back in the crate and let it cry. If you are consistent with this method, your puppy should be sleeping through the night within a week (7 to 9 hours).
  • CRATE CONFINEMENT – Your puppy should be placed in the crate during any unsupervised time. The crate is used like a playpen for a human toddler. At 8 weeks of age, your puppy is on the same level as a one year old human toddler. One would never allow a one year old human toddler to have free range of a house or be left unsupervised for even a minute. If your puppy has an accident that you do not catch as it is happening, do not scold the puppy, but instead, scold yourself. The puppy only associates the scolding with the act if it is caught in the act. Each accident that happens in the house is a step backwards in the training and should be avoided. A puppy should not be allowed access to the floor unless it has eliminated outside within the last 45 minutes. This will help to avoid the accident. If the playtime reaches an hour, the puppy should be taken outside to eliminate again. In the crate, the limit is 3 hours, but outside the crate, the limit is one hour. Every month, the crate time limit can be increased by one hour.
  • GROOMING – Your puppy should be brushed every day if possible. Even though you will not find tangles or mats until the coat grows somewhat, you want your puppy to be used to being brushed. If you wait until the coat is tangled or matted, the process will not be pleasant for your puppy and you want him/her to learn that grooming is a fun process. As the coat grows longer and thicker, make sure you are brushing from the root out so you don’t leave mats close to the skin. Brushes you will want to use are a slicker brush to separate the hairs and a metal comb when you are done as it will find tangles you missed. Every day you should massage the toes gently to desensitize your puppy to make clipping nails easier. Nails should be clipped about once a month. When the adult coat is in (about 6 mos. of age), you will want to brush your dog completely at least twice a week, but daily is preferred. At this time, many Goldendoodles need their first trim. The dry, unhealthy looking puppy coat can be removed to reveal the healthy adult coat underneath. Multigen Goldendoodles typically need to be clipped every 6-8 weeks.
  • RESOURCE GUARDING – this is a common problem with puppies and any puppy that exhibits this behavior needs to be trained away from guarding possessions at an early age. Click here for information to help you with this. Here is another great resource guarding video.

These are videos made by Army Maquire on teaching your puppy to walk on a leash:

Here is a video on avoiding children being bitten by the family dog:

Puppy Training Tips

It is important to remember that your puppy not only learns by rewarding good behavior, but it also learns by disciplining undesirable behavior. If there is a behavior your puppy exhibits that you may think is cute while your puppy is small, you need to think ahead and determine if this behavior will be acceptable from an adult dog. If the answer is “No”, then you need to curb the behavior as a puppy. Consistency is the most important tool for training a puppy in their first year and beyond. Each family member needs to use the same techniques and commands so as not to confuse your puppy. It is important to remember that a puppy associates a reward or a disciplinary action with its behavior in the past 3 seconds. Waiting longer than 3 seconds to reward or discipline is very confusing to a puppy. The following are examples of undesirable behavior and tips on how to correct this behavior:

Nipping/Biting – Your puppy is teething and has an insatiable desire to chew. You cannot stop this behavior, but you can certainly direct your puppy to chew upon acceptable items until this phase passes (at about a year of age). The only way puppies know how to play is the typical wrestling, biting, chasing, tackling, pulling, and nipping they do with littermates. In the absence of littermates, you and your family suddenly become the littermates. Each and every time your puppy puts its mouth and/or teeth on your clothes or hands, you immediately need to remove the teeth from the object, firmly close the puppy’s mouth with your hand, and firmly, deeply, and loudly say “NO”. Your puppy will undoubtedly nip/bite at you again. Repeat this same disciplinary action a total of three times in a row. After the third disciplinary action, distract your puppy by giving him/her something he/she can chew upon. Every now and then, a particularly feisty puppy will become more excited by this disciplinary action and need a more distinct disciplinary measure. This next action needs to be initiated quickly. When the first three disciplinary actions don’t seem to work, you can use another technique that may be more successful. Immediately upon your puppy putting his/her mouth on you, put your thumb on the tongue and your other fingers underneath the jaw and press down on the tongue. This will be uncomfortable for your puppy. When behavior meets with uncomfortable consequences, the behavior will stop. Another option is to mix 30% white vinegar and 70% water in a small spray bottle. Spray this in your puppy’s face each time he bites at you. With all this being said, the absolute best remedy is for you to arrange daily play dates with other puppies or young dogs. Allowing your puppy to expend energy this way will help him/her to be much calmer the rest of the day. The bottom line is that your puppy needs to have active playtime each day. It is your job to find or create activities that are fun for your puppy and that tire him/her out.

Jumping – Your puppy will jump on you to get your attention. This may seem innocent while your puppy is small, but Grandma may not appreciate being knocked over by the full grown untrained dog. You will need to push your puppy down and say “off” firmly each time he/she jumps on a person. Make sure you do not reward the puppy for the act of getting down as this will enforce the behavior of jumping up only to be told to get down for a reward.

Growling – Your puppy may growl at you from time to time as a way to communicate his/her dislike of something. This is not a sign of aggression unless you allow this to go undisciplined over time. Expressing fear when your puppy growls only teaches him/her that you back down when you hear a growl. You need to actively discourage any and all growling directed at you. If your puppy growls at you when you get close to the food bowl, immediately remove the food bowl and feed the puppy out of your hand. If he/she growls when you brush him/her, scold the puppy and continue brushing. Do not stop brushing until the puppy accepts this without growling. If he/she growls as you are trying to take something from him/her, turn the puppy on its back and promptly take the item from the puppy. Each puppy needs to learn its place in the pecking order of a family. Obviously, they need to be the lowest on the totem pole. If allowed to be boss, growling is a normal thing for a puppy to exhibit when showing its dominance. It is easily curtailed with appropriate discipline, but many become fearful instead, adding validity to the dog’s sense of his place in the family. Each family member must establish they are boss. This includes young children who are timid or fearful of the puppy. Remember that any behavior you allow as a puppy is then extremely difficult to curb later in life. If you do not wish to have your adult dog on the furniture, do not sit on the sofa holding your puppy. If you do not want your grown dog to grab your pant leg, etc., do not play tug-o-war or other aggressive games with your puppy.

Leash Training – Training your Goldendoodle puppy to walk on a leash without pulling will take some time. Be patient and read our complete guide to leash training here.

Buying a Trained Puppy – You can opt to have your puppy purchased at Fox Creek Farm trained by a professional trainer. Buying a trained puppy can save you a lot of time and benefit the entire family. Please visit our board and train services page for more information.

Pet Insurance – We always recommend that any dog owner have a good quality pet insurance. Choosing the best pet insurance will take you a bit of time to learn about the coverages and fees associate with the brand and your particular dog. Spend some time with our blog articles on pet insurance linked above to determine what is right for you and your furry friend.



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Find more tips and tricks on training your puppy on our Goldendoodle Blog.