Crate/Potty Training


Using the kennel crate method of housebreaking your puppy or dog is probably the most effective and most humane method available. It is endorsed by most veterinarians and animal behaviorists. As a side benefit the crate will also become your best method for preventing destructive behavior. In the wild, dogs are creatures that spend a lot of time in their dens. They enjoy the security of a small area of their own. The majority of dogs also have a natural instinct that keeps them from soiling their den area. This really makes crate training an easy way to housebreak dogs.

First you should choose a crate only large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. If the crate is too large, your dog will soil one corner and rest comfortably in another, and you will not have success housebreaking. Most people buy a crate that is large enough for the adult dog that their puppy will grow into. For this reason you may have to block off the rear of the crate so it is the correct size for the puppy, which can be done simply by inserting a cardboard box of the right size in the back of the crate. Many dog prefer the security and privacy of plastic airline crates. Wire crates have the advantage of being collapsible for travel but you should drape a towel over the top to give the dog the illusion of privacy. The crate should be located in a quiet area. Avoid high traffic areas like kitchens, hallways and doorways. A good place is in your bedroom, where your dog can have the security of your presence at night. During the day you might want to move it into a corner of the living room.

Although most pups accept the crate easily, there are some that have to be convinced that it is a good place to be. The quickest way to teach this is with food treats. Begin by placing treats in the crate for your dog to find, and soon your dog will go into the crate on his own in search of treats. The next step is to lure your dog into the crate with a treat, giving a command. I use “In your house” while a friend of mine uses “Denning time”.

For adult dogs who are just learning to use the crate, and for the occasional puppy that is insecure, it may help to gradually them used to remaining there. At first shut the door for a few seconds, give your dog a treat and allow him out; gradually increase the time the door stays shut with your dog inside. When your dog is comfortable staying in the crate with the door shut, try leaving the room for a few moments. Return, give him a treat and let your dog out. As with the other steps, gradually increase the time away from the pet. Only stay away as long as your dog is still comfortable in the crate at first.

Especially at night it is important not to return to a whining dog to 'offer comfort'. If you do you will end up with a dog that whines and cries whenever it wants you near. Instead, return to your dog when it is quiet, and the next time return before the whining starts. In addition, try not to make returning to your dog too exciting, or you will exaggerate your absence and possibly contribute to separation anxiety in your dog. Just quietly greet him with something like “Hi pup!” Then open kennel door and quietly walk away. The most important thing to remember is the crate must be a safe haven for your dog. Never punish in the crate or use the crate for punishment. Eventually, if you leave the crate door open the pup will start to voluntarily use it for naps or quiet time. (I must admit I always bring my new Bichon pups to bed with me and then that is where they sleep).

If the pup is comfortable with the crate housebreaking is fairly straightforward. Feeding must be on a strict schedule. If you feed him at the same times each day your dog will soon eliminate on a fairly reliable schedule. This will allow you to anticipate when he will need to go outside and eliminate. Young puppies and untrained dogs need to go outside after napping or being crated for a while, since increases in activity often trigger elimination. This means that the first thing in the morning when you take him out of the crate he has to get a chance to eliminate. After a long night, puppies often can’t even make it to the door before they have to go, so you may have to carry him to the door for a week or so. Sometimes just actively playing, eating or drinking large amounts of water, can also trigger elimination in a pup.

Your dog should be taken out on leash to the same designated spot each time. Choose this spot carefully. This is not walk time or play time; stand in approximately the same spot and wait for your dog to eliminate. If he does, praise him enthusiastically, I always offer a treat for a job accomplished but you will hear many people tell you that is not the right thing to do. It works fir us. Don’t immediately rush back into the house with him or he will learn to hold on and not eliminate so that he can get more time outdoors. Instead walk a few minutes or give him a minute or two of playtime. Don’t fully clean up the spot, but leave a trace of urine or feces to provide a scent that will remind the pup what he is supposed to do there.

You may find it useful to crate your dog or puppy whenever you can’t be available to supervise it and to prevent accidents. When you are able to supervise your dog and take it out on schedule, you should be able to prevent accidents by keeping an eye on your dog. Housebreaking is for the most part owner training, where you learn your dog's schedule to avoid accidents. However, the more successful, praised elimination outside, the quicker your dog will become housebroken.

There may be an occasional “accident” in the house with young pups. If there is one don’t hit him, yell at him or rub his nose in it. The dog won’t make the connection between your punishment and his earlier behavior. This means the dog may learn to be afraid of you, or the simple situation where you approach him. Simply clean up the mess and then use a commercial odor eliminator (like Natures Miracle or other enzyme containing products) or simply clean the area with white vinegar. Don’t use products containing ammonia, since that smells enough like urine that it actually attracts the dog to eliminate in that place again.

If you actually catch your dog in the act of eliminating inside the house, interrupt him (I clap my hands & he stops) then take him outside to the proper place (without harsh words or punishment). If he eliminates outside, praise him. Remember to be patient, some dogs take longer than others to housebreak do. If your dog is slow at housebreaking, check with your vet since dogs that are ill or suffering from parasites often have elimination problems. If you are consistent, watchful, and use the crate, the dog will usually be housebroken in couple of weeks/months. An occasional “accident” will usually be your fault, for leaving the pup too long, or not keeping to the routine. If so, just take a breath, clean it up, and remember that this phase of life will quickly pass.


If you do take your pup outside and he does not go to the bathroom after a bit then bring him in and he goes back into the kennel. A half hour later try again. If he goes then he can be let loose for a short period of time. Then when it is potty time again it is the same thing. Take him outside it he goes then he can be let loose in the house for about 45 minutes. Then take him outside. If he goes then he gets another 45 minutes of play time, loose time. If he does not go he goes into the kennel for a half hour. Eventually he will understand it is more fun to be loose and if he goes potty he gets to be loose. Also if he goes potty he gets a treat. That is the only thing that trained my female Bichon. My male still comes running in the house looking for his treat because he did his business outside. Bichons are difficult to train, one of mine was and one was not. I guess it all depends on you. It takes time and consistence, and tons of patience.




Basic Obedience


A puppy can learn a great deal, even as early as 7 weeks of age, if learning is fun and presented in the form of gentle play. Motivational methods work best for this tender young soul. Reward desired behaviors by offering toys, food and praise so the puppy wants to obey. Whenever possible, try to arrange the situation so he can't make a mistake. Never use physical punishment on a young puppy as you may damage him both mentally and physically.

Most puppies, like young children, enjoy learning, but have short attention spans. The following exercises can be done several times a day. They take just a few minutes, but will make a tremendous difference in your puppy's attitude. To establish a positive rapport with your puppy and prevent many future problems, start training a few days after your puppy settles in.

I only offer very brief explanations here, and trainers have many variations on these concepts. If you run into problems, consult a professional trainer. A puppy can start more formal obedience training at about four to six months of age.

This is the most important command you will ever teach your puppy. If your dog ever gets away from you, out of the yard or off the leash, the first thing you want to do is call him to come to you and return him to safety. You need 2 people for this. Put you pup on a long leash; I use a 20 foot cloth leash for “come training”. Have one person hold the pup while he is on the leash. Have the other person at the other end of the leash. Have the person holding the pup let go of him while at the same time the person at the other end of the leash is saying “Grace, come”! While calling your pup pull him in gently with the leash. When he gets to you have a treat ready for him. I spend 10 minutes each day doing this command until the puppy understands the command. Once he understands the command on the leash you can work on this command off the leash. Just randomly, in the house say “Noah, come!” Your puppy will come running to you because he knows he gets a treat and lots of loving when he gets to you.

Move a toy or piece of food (the motivator) from a position in front of the puppy to a point up over his head and say "Sit." The pup will probably raise his head to follow the motivator and in the process, lower his rear end to the floor. You may gently help the pup at first by tucking his bottom under with your free hand. When he sits, praise him exuberantly and give him the toy or treat as a reward.

Show the puppy a tantalizing piece of food or a toy to get his attention. Say "Down" and slowly lower the toy to the floor. If needed, help him down with very slight pressure on his shoulders. (Don't put pressure on his back, or you could hurt him.) Give him the toy when he lies down, even if just for a second. Reward profusely. Later you can extend the length of time he must stay down before you give him the toy.


Have the puppy sit. Put your open hand in front of his face & say "stay" and back away from the puppy one or two steps. Praise the puppy for staying. After just a second or two, reward, praise and release. Always reward the puppy when he's still staying, not after he gets up, so he associates the reward with staying and not the release. If the puppy gets up too soon, simply repeat the exercise. Gradually increase the time he stays.

Training your puppy is enjoyable and worthwhile. You will develop a wonderful bond with your puppy and have an activity you can do together even after the dog is grown. An untrained dog can be a pest, a problem and even a danger. A well-trained dog is a good friend and an asset to his family and community.


There is also tons of information on the internet or dog training DVD’s & books. Remember a well trained dog is a well trained friend.


Click on the below link to get lots of information about "Your New Puppy"