Bringing a new Doberman puppy home can be the start of an immensely rewarding relationship, but it requires a good deal of care and patience to mold the squirming little ball of trouble you just acquired into a faithful and obedient companion. Potty training, especially, can be tricky due to the large amount of time required up-front; when done correctly, however, there is no need for the experience to be a headache. The following is a helpful guide to potty training your new Dobie, or any other pup.
Potty Training Your Puppy
Supervise your puppy at all times when he is inside, if at all possible. The most important consideration when house training your puppy is to avoid building bad habits from the very start. If he never has an opportunity to soil inside the house, he will never confuse the house with a good location to eliminate. When your Doberman puppy is awake and active, keep a close watch on his activities, and take him to a proper potty location, such as the backyard immediately if he starts to eliminate inside. Try confining your puppy to a smaller area of the home with baby gates to make supervising him easier. Potty training can take as little as two weeks if done correctly and thoroughly the first time. Make time to be home during this critical period, or find someone (a neighbor, relative, etc) to help keep watch when you are away.
Create Routine. Young puppies need to go potty every few hours. Take your puppy outside after he eats, when he wakes from a nap and after playing. Setting a regular feeding schedule can also help get your puppy's bowels on a more predictable cycle, because you will have a much better idea of when he needs to eliminate if he eats at scheduled times than if he has free access to food. Have a set location to take your puppy at potty time, such as the same corner of the yard, or the same patch of grass in the park so that he begins to understand "potty time" happens here.
Use positive reinforcement, not punishment. Always praise your puppy for eliminating in acceptable areas as soon as he begins to go. If you catch him in the act indoors, interrupt him by clapping or calling his name, and then move him immediately to the designated potty area. Never rub his nose in the mess or yell at him. Your new puppy simply does not understand that these behaviors are "bad," and you may only serve to make him fearful of you. According to Colorado-based, non-profit animal rehabilitation center Dumb Friends League: "Animals don't understand punishment after the fact, even if it is only seconds later."
Use a crate at night. Even providing your puppy with a cardboard box and a few blankets can drastically improve his odds of making it through the night without an accident. Puppies are disinclined to soil their beds, so if your dog wakes up in the night, he will alert you rather than mess in his sleeping spot.
Clean accidents thoroughly as soon as possible with an enzymatic cleaner so that your puppy cannot detect his scent to potentially re-mark the area. It is absolutely normal to expect at least one or two slip ups in the first weeks of house training.
Tips & Warnings
- If your puppy is soiling the house excessively, or seems to do so even after he has been taken out recently, you may want to consider speaking to a veterinary professional to be sure the issue is not health related.
- Products such as puppy pads or "potty mats" may temporarily solve indoor urination problems when you will be away from home for prolonged periods, but they can actually make it more difficult to housebreak in the long run. Try and make the time to be there for your puppy as often as possible in the early stages of training.
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