In This Chapter
- Setting the stage: The when and where of housetraining
- Managing the gotta-go schedule
- Defining the den
- Ready, set, go!
- When training comes up short: Special challenges
Deciding When and Where to Housetrain Your Pom Pup
Every time your puppy goes on grass, the routine reinforces grass as the appropriate place. The same is true if you want her to go on cement (for city dogs) or even on doggy litter. Unfortunately, it’s equally true for rugs, newspapers, and other places you don’t want your dog to use for the rest of her life.
Newspapers? I highly recommend that you steer clear of them as potty-training surfaces unless you have some desire to use them as your ultimate potty surface. The problem is that urine-soaked newspapers smell worse than just plain urine. And if you have a habit of placing your newspaper on the floor, you guessed it — you may find the paper soaked when you pick it up to read!
– Keep her confined unless she has just pottied. You can use baby gates or exercise pens to confine her in a small area just around the crate. As she grows older and goes longer without soiling that small area, you can gradually expand her confinement area, now her den.
– Expand the area of your home she considers her den. A common problem as you give your puppy more freedom is that you may find surprises in parts of the house you seldom visit.
The guest room is a favorite spot for such deposits, which of course makes a wonderful impression on your guests. Your first inclination may be to mumble something about that sneaky little brat pretending to be housetrained but just doing it where you don’t see. But that’s not the problem. She has simply failed to identify these distant or unused areas of your home as her den area because the two of you haven’t spent any time there. She thinks they’re the great world beyond the den, and remember, to a dog, the world is her potty.
To adjust her thinking, take a few steps backward by restricting her freedom. Then make sure you play or hang out together in every room of your house to enforce the idea that this is home turf.
– Get rid of the scent. Dogs are programmed to potty where they can smell they’ve pottied before, so clean up an accident with a special enzymatic cleaner (available from pet supply stores).
Creating a Schedule (And Sticking to It)
A general guide is that a Pomeranian puppy can hold his urine for as many hours as he is months old. So a 2-month-old pup can wait for two hours, or a 4-month-old for four hours, up to about 6 months of age. But every dog is different. If you find your dog urinates on average once an hour, take him out once every 45 minutes. Always take him out before his regularly scheduled program of pee or poop.
Using a Crate, Pen, or Doggy Door When You’re Away from Home
Allowing a crate to teach him to hold it
Here’s why a crate helps in housetraining: In puppy world, a crate is the equivalent of a crib. Puppies naturally avoid soiling their bed (the smart critters know they don’t want to sit in it!), so being in the crate encourages them to hold off going for a short while. This natural response makes the crate your best bet when you can’t watch him, even if you’re just in another part of the house.
– The crate is too large. The crate should be only big enough for him to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. If it’s larger, he can step to one side, relieve himself, and curl up on the other side. No Great Dane–sized crates for housetraining a Pom!
– You’re leaving her in the crate too long. This move is not only cruel but also stupid. By forcing him to go in his crate, you’re telling him:
- Don’t bother trying to hold it.
- The crate is in fact an acceptable place to potty.
You’re undoing every bit of housetraining and setting yourself up for a lifetime of cleaning out the crate and washing off the dog every time you leave him crated. Yuck!
– Your puppy is experiencing separation anxiety or crate anxiety. You can identify a dog with these problems because he’ll usually also be panting and drooling in the crate, along with possibly peeing and pooping. In this case, deal with the anxiety problems first (see Chapter Dealing with Doggy Delinquents) or try using an exercise pen setup, which I cover in the next section.
Letting her housetrain herself in an exercise pen
Using a grassy litter box
1. Buy a cat litter box or an even larger flat pan.
An ideal box has fairly high sides but a low entrance area so your puppy doesn’t have to jump to get in it.
2. Buy some sod squares and place them inside the box or on the pan.
Purchase these squares at a home supply store.
3. Place the box or pan where the puppy can reach it inside.
Now your puppy has an indoor grassy area, and she’s learning to do her duty on the proper surface. This routine makes training her to go outside that much easier. When the sod gets sodden (you’ll smell it!), replace it and plant it in the yard.
You can also simply use dog litter, available at major pet supply stores. It’s absorbent, has deodorizing properties, and is attractive to dogs. Dog litter is a good choice if you plan to use a litter box on a long-term basis because it’s hard to keep grass growing inside and eventually you run out of places to plant the old sod outdoors — especially if you live in an apartment!
Using other indoor options
– Disposable absorbent pads scented to attract puppies: The pads absorb moisture and have a waterproof barrier. Their drawback? Some dogs, especially puppies, like to shred them. Be sure to get the tie-down variety so your dog doesn’t surf across the floor on them. They’re also great for trips.
– Washable pads: These pads have a waterproof barrier, an absorbent middle layer, and a moisture-proof top layer to keep the outside surface dry. They’re less expensive in the long run than disposable ones but not as practical for trips or short-term solutions.
– Indoor yards of artificial turf placed over a grate: With this setup, liquids drain into a disposal pan so your dog has a somewhat more natural surface to go on. You must empty the pan regularly and hose down and deodorize the turf. One thing to note is that artificial sod may not be as attractive to some dogs that are used to going on real grass, so make sure it’s working for your dog.
– Indoor yards of real sod: This is, of course, the ultimate in bringing the outdoors to your dog. You have to water the grass, although some have an underground dirtless system, so you just place water in a reservoir. Still, you need to hose it down with deodorizing spray and replace the grass every few months. These systems do better on an outdoor patio but work well indoors with more frequent grass replacement.
Installing a doggy door
– The door leads outside to an absolutely escape-proof kennel, preferably with a top that prevents predators from getting in. (The top prevents wild animals, including birds of prey, from regarding your Pom pup as a potential snack. The top is also secure from passersby who may try to steal a cute puppy.)
– Inside, the doggy-door is one side of a pen. The smaller you can make the indoor area, the more it will be like your pup’s den (see the earlier section “Deciding When and Where to Housetrain Your Pom Pup” for a discussion on this important area). If possible, fill most of the area with your pup’s crate, removing the door or propping it open sturdily.
Young puppies catch on to the concept of doggy doors very quickly. You can help her through the first few times, luring her with treats and holding the flap partially open. Gradually require her to push the flap open herself, and soon she’ll be letting herself in and out!
Housetraining in Action
Recognizing when she’s gotta go
– She walks quickly in circles.
– When playing, she stops, then walks a few steps forward, then stops again.
You have to be fast to catch her when she has to go, so a safer bet is not to start indoor games unless she’s just urinated in the proper place.
– They usually start sniffing and circling.
– Very young puppies often whine.
When in doubt, take her out!
Instilling confidence by sticking around for the potty party
Even if you have a yard, be sure to practice with the dog on a leash sometimes. Few moments are more frustrating than taking a trip with a dog and suddenly discovering she doesn’t think she’s supposed to potty while on a leash.
Rewarding potty performance
1. Go outside with her to the specific place you’ve chosen as the potty area.
If you’ve been using sod squares inside (see the earlier section “Using a grassy litter box”), plant one with her urine scent on it as a scent signpost for her because dogs are hardwired to mark the same territory more than once.
2. Ignore her if she tries to play.
She’s not out there for playtime.
3. After she potties, tell her what a good girl she is and give her a reward from the stash of treats in your pocket.
You can move to another area of the yard and play so that playtime is yet another reward for pottying in the right place.
4. When she gets the hang of going in the right place, add a cue (like “Hurry up”) as soon as she’s definitely going to go (unless you happen to say that phrase a lot around the house!). Reward her as usual afterward.
Soon she’ll associate the cue with the action, and you’ll have a dog that can eliminate on cue! “Spend a penny” is popular with people who want to sound old fashioned and also not accidentally give the cue to potty in the wrong place.
Overcoming Housetraining Challenges
Whatever the case, don’t give up. Even if your dog takes longer to housetrain than your friend’s dog, it will happen. However, if you seem to make no progress, or if your dog is backsliding, you may need to back up and start at square one, reverting to no unsupervised freedom. Yes, it sees like a lot of work, but it’s really very little compared to cleaning up for the next decade. And good training is certainly better than banishing your dog to the laundry room.
Reacting constructively to accidents
Instead, follow up the deed with these moves of your own:
1. Hold your temper.
2. Clean up the mess.
And what to do if you catch your dog in the act, pottying inside the house? Take these positive steps:
1. Make an abrupt noise, like “Arrgh” to get her attention.
2. Try to sweep her up and get her outside.
She may not be able to stop midstream, so be careful she doesn’t leave a pee-pee trail all the way to the door by keeping lots of towels handy.
Unless you’re Super Trainer, your puppy will have accidents. A place that smells like urine or poop is a place that screams “Go here!” to your dog. To avoid repeat performances, you need to get rid of as much of that scent signal as possible. (Of course, you want to do that anyway for your own olfactory comfort!) Avoid ammonia-based cleaners, which smell like urine and can act as an inadvertent welcome sign to dogs.
To clean potty-soaked carpet:
4. Add a nice odor like a mixture of lavender oil or vanilla with baking soda to the area. Let it air out for a day, then vacuum.
3. After she’s outside, ignore her until she relieves herself; then reward her as usual.
4. Consider it a reminder that you need to watch her more closely.
Understanding common medical causes for potty problems
If your adult (over 1 year old) Pomeranian still isn’t housetrained — or reverts back to having accidents when he’s housetrained — have your veterinarian examine him to make sure a physical problem isn’t the cause. Some medical reasons are as follows:
– Urinary tract infections cause repeated urges to urinate with little warning.
– Diabetes and kidney disease cause increased drinking along with increased urination.
– Some drugs like steroids also cause increased drinking and urination.
– Spayed females are more prone to urinary incontinence. Place an absorbent pad under her when she sleeps.
– Geriatric dogs may forget their house manners and have accidents.
– Internal parasites, gastrointestinal upsets, and some food allergies can cause uncontrollable diarrhea.
Dealing with involuntary emissions
She can’t help it — and punishing her only makes the condition worse. The good news is that she’ll probably outgrow the problem if you help her. Avoid these actions that make her feel submissive:
– Bending over her
– Staring at her
– Scolding her
– Intimidating her in any other manner
Punishing a dog with excitement urination only leads to his confusion and possible submissive urination.
Tackling the not-so-involuntary emissions
Absorbing the puddle
Discouraging the problem
The best cure is prevention by neutering before sexual maturity. This step can’t guarantee that he won’t mark, but it greatly lessens the chances. If he’s already sexually mature and has started marking, then neutering usually (but not always) helps alleviate the problem.