House-training can be a difficult and frustrating task. I have learned that the hard way with my puppy, a 9-week-old Saint Bernard. She can be very stubborn, and when she started going in the house, it was hard to break that habit. Once we did break that habit and started learning the signs, it was a very rewarding experience.
First of all, I watched her closely to learn the signs. For instance, she would whine and pace indicating she needed to go outside. It took me a few days or so to notice these signs. Every time she had a drink or ate I would take her right outside, so she didn’t have the chance to go in the house. After a while, she caught on and started going outside regularly.
Unfortunately, accidents will happen and it will be hard not to get frustrated or discouraged. Some people might think that getting mad and yelling will make the puppy scared to go in the house. This is not the case; it will scare them but not to the point of wanting to go outside they might start going to places you can’t see (under couches, under the bed, etc.) A puppy does not have a very long memory, so if the accident happens throughout the day when you are not home, and you get mad at the puppy, it does not know why you are mad and yelling. The best thing to do if an accident does happen when you are out, just take your puppy right outside and wait till he/she goes. Then praise, praise, praise.
Some people think that rubbing the puppies face in the pee will make it learn that is a naughty thing to do. This is not the case, rubbing its face in it makes it scared. Some puppies when very excited or scared can dribble a little pee. They usually outgrow this.
It’s important to exercise patience and positive reinforcement when house training your puppy. It can be frustrating at times, but it is a learning curve for both you and your newest family member. Try your best to make going outside a positive experience. Give them praise when they go outside, act excited saying good girl/boy, pets, give them their favourite toy or treat. Try not to feel defeated when accidents happen, just clean it up and take the puppy right outside.
Once your puppy is trained, and you learn the signs your house will be a great place with no frustration, just a happy place for you and puppy to play and live life in harmony.
Written by Aileen Holcroft, ACA