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But this effort pays off in the long run.
It isn’t so very long ago that people recommended techniques for house training a puppy.
Like rubbing a puppy’s nose in his mess or smacking him with a rolled up newspaper to get him clean in the house.
Thankfully we now know better than this.
Modern positive training methods bring fast and permanent improvements in Labrador behaviour and you won’t need to use any harsh methods to house train your labrador puppy
The key to successfully housetraining a puppy
The key to successful and rapid housetraining is avoiding mistakes. Labradors are creatures of habit, and if a place is an unfamiliar place to wee, then the dog will not want to wee there.
It is not unusual for example, for dogs to refuse to wee whilst on a lead, simply because they never have, or to refuse to wee in the garden, simply because they never have.
This can cause problems for the owner that has broken his leg and really needs the dog to wee in the garden, or the owner whose dog has been injured and is only allowed to exercise on a lead.
Because habit is so important to dogs, house training is easily achieved simply by avoiding mistakes. If the dog has never pooped on your carpet by the time he is three months old, the chances are he never will.
Avoiding housetraining accidents
The way to avoid mistakes is to take your labrador puppy outside to empty himself extremely frequently. Initially this might be every half hour, plus every time he wakes from a nap, plus every time he has finished a meal, plus every time he has finished a game or been excited for some reason.
This means a very great many trips outside. But it works.
Just make a fuss of him when he ‘goes’ in the right place, and ignore any mistakes. As the days go by you can begin to stretch out the gaps between trips outside, but slow and sure wins the race. Any attempt to hurry this process is likely to result in accidents, and accidents encourage more accidents.
Remember that pups have very small bladders and very little control over them. When they need to go, they need to go now! This is why your best line of attack is to pre-empt them with plenty of trips outside.
Teaching a ‘Wee’ on command word
Each time your puppy empties himself in your chosen spot you can use a special word or words (I use ‘hurry up’ said in a jolly and upbeat way) after a few weeks you will find that when you say this word, your puppy will start to feel the urge to empty himself. The word has become associated in his mind with the act of going to the toilet.
In a couple of months or so, many puppies will have learned to ‘wee’ on command through this simple technique.
Clearing up accidents
Of course mistakes will occasionally happen, it can’t be helped, but repeated mistakes will set back your training considerably because pups like to wee where they have weed before. If you are not careful it can be a downward spiral.
Once a puppy has had an accident on the floor you need to remove all trace of it. And this is difficult bearing in mind your puppy’s extraordinary sense of smell so you will need to be thorough and diligent in this.
You can buy special cleaners for this purpose which do not contain any substances which might attract a puppy to repeat the accident in the same place.
Using the crate
Crates can be very useful during the house training a puppy process provided they are used wisely. A labrador puppy has a natural disinclination to wee or poop in his bed. Putting him in a small confined space is like a ‘den’ to him. And the puppy will not want to wee in his den.
So provided that you do not leave him there until his bladder cannot contain any more liquid, this is a great opportunity for you.
You can pop the puppy in his crate whilst you are busy for twenty minutes or so. Then, when you bring him out, you can take him straight to his designated toilet area, say your magic word ‘hurry up’ and hey presto he will relieve himself.
Put your labrador puppy in his crate to sleep at night and he will be far more likely to stay clean and dry, providing you follow the guidelines below
What about at night?
Puppies vary in how long they can last at night without a wee. Many pups are nine or ten weeks old before they can last all night (say around midnight until 6 or 7 am) without a wee. Some pups are even older and a few pups can last six or seven hours from around eight weeks old.
What you need to accept is that this is not something you can control. The puppy has the bladder he has, and you cannot influence that. What you can do is make it easy for him to be clean, by taking him outside to his toilet area very early in the morning, and even in the middle of the night , if that is what he needs.
To be on the safe side with a new eight week old pup, we recommend you set your alarm for 2am or 3am (depending on when you go to bed) and take your puppy to his outdoor toilet area. Don’t make a fuss of him, be very boring. Just wait for him to do a wee, tell him what a clever boy he is, and pop him back into the crate. He may protest a little in the hopes of some more interesting company, but should soon settle back down to sleep.
Repeat this for the first few nights, but gradually push forward your trips in the small hours until he is going six hours or so without a wee.
Once he get to around ten weeks old you may be able to stretch this out to seven hours, though some pups will need another two or three weeks to get to this point.
Many young dogs will not be able to last more than seven hours until they are six months or so.
You will get there soon
House training a puppy is one of those areas where the more effort you put in earlier on, the greater your chances of an easy journey in the long run. You will get there soon, so enjoy your puppy and try not to worry too much about house training.
You can find more articles about house training here:
- House-training without tears
- Crate training your puppy
- What to do when your puppy won’t wee outside
- A quick guide to housetraining
Need more help and information?
If you enjoy Pippa’s puppy articles, you will love her new book: The Happy Puppy Handbook – a definitive guide to early puppy care and training.
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