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  1. #1
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    Default House training a puppy - advice needed

    I haven't posted on this forum since I was in the pregnancy/baby era, but have kids 10, 8, 6 and 4, who have been on at us to get a dog for years, and we finally decided it was time.

    So about 6 weeks ago we got a little 8 week old chihuahua. She's very cute, tolerant with the kids and I think she'll be a great dog for our family if we can sort out just a couple of issues.

    She wakes up every morning at 4:30 - I understand she's a baby and her bladder isn't very big yet, so wakes up because she needs to go, so maybe this is something we just need to give her time for. My 10 year old has her in a box next to the bed and in the first couple of weeks the dog would wake several times in the night and my 10 year old would put her arm down and settle her. Now she is pretty good and sleeps from 11 - which is when DH takes her down for a final pee and then puts her in the box, where she goes straight to sleep till 4:30. But as soon as 4:30 comes around it's like her internal clock goes off and she needs to get up and pee, poop and play. I wouldn't mind so much if she'd go back to sleep afterwards, but it's playtime for at least 2 hours, after which she starts to settle and then goes back to sleep - when everyone else is getting ready to get up.

    My 10 year old has been taking her downstairs for a pee when she wakes, then waking me to look after the dog and going back to bed. So it's managable, but not ideal. It's quite dark in her box, so I gather it's just that she's young and can't sleep for too long? Just tell me things will get better as she gets older - I'd like to sleep in occasionally)and not have to go to bed a couple of hours earlier than DH in order to be able to get up and look after the dog .

    The other issue - and the really big one is housetraining. I am really really over cleaning up pee and poop or having a kid shout out that they stepped in poop etc.
    The original method we began to use was crate training, but using a box. She'd sleep in her box and then we'd bring the box out into the living area and take her out periodically to play with, feed and give her opportunities to pee etc but it didn't end up working as the kids all wanted their chance to play with her - and they each loved having her cuddle on their laps when she was sleeping, so we ended up just trying to go with a schedule instead and only use her box for sleeping at night. (She'll accept it at night, but barks and whines constantly now if we put her in it during the day).

    If she is asleep it's either on the couch, in her basket, or on someone's lap. As soon as she wakes up one of the us will take her downstairs - we have a small paved shared courtyard, and there is piece of artificial grass for her to pee on.
    If we put her on the grass as soon as we take her down she will usually go and we give her a treat. But she needs time before doing poop, so we have to wait with her, sometimes quite a while. It's pretty guaranteed first thing in the morning, but other than that you don't really know if you should be waiting or bringing her back up. She will just lie down and look at us after a while after having done nothing, so we bring her back up.

    We have no problem getting the "after sleep" toileting, but it's all the others. If she has just peed we tend to give her a little more leeway and let her play on the floor, or with the kids. And we think we're watching her - but somehow we still find puddles in corners, or in the hallway. If we see her running off to a particular section we'll grab her and take her down and she will sometimes go - sometimes not. Sometimes we'll wait and wait, bring her back up and then she'll go straight away.

    We take her down after eating as well -like you're meant to but again, she hardly ever goes straight away. She is getting plenty of pee opportunities - at least once an hour when she is awake.
    When she's downstairs, if we're just waiting for her to be ready, she'll run around and sniff the backyard, but won't run onto the grass, she'll only go there if she's peeing as soon as we put her down to begin with. As far as pooping goes, we found a particular corner she prefers to go in downstairs, so we put another piece of grass there and sometimes she goes there, sometimes she doesn't. If we see her start to squat we pick her up and run to the grass and then reward her and tell her she's a good dog etc.

    I just don't think she's getting the idea at all. She doesn't even try to hold on upstairs and downstairs it just seems to be luck as to whether she goes where she's meant to.

    Again, I understand she is still just a baby - but at 14 weeks old I would have thought we'd at least have some success occasionally? I know we're breaking all the rules for the latest conventions in training - everyone recommends using a crate, but people managed to train their puppies before crates were used. My parents say our problem is that all of us in the family are taking her down, so she's not getting consistant training, but we all use the same cues, give her treats etc when she goes and do it the same way. The kids all agreed that if we were getting a dog they would share in responsibility. We can't just leave the door open as there are stairs and areas she's not allowed in - so it's more apartment style training.

    I'm thinking I should start again, and do paper training - where you put lots of newspaper down all over the floor and praise her for going on the paper, and then gradually reduce the paper etc until it's just one sheet. But we can't move the sheet bit by bit to the door and then out - because of the stairs. It would potentially solve the problem of us finding puddles everywhere, but I was hoping to teach her that she just shouldn't go upstairs at all - only downstairs - and if we praise her for going upstairs, how hard is the transition going to be later when we take the paper away? And if we do use paper, will she still know she should go on the grass downstairs? Or do we not bother taking her down - just get her to use the paper?

    DH and I had a dog before we had kids, so we are familiar with dogs, but it was already housetrained when we got it, so any advice (that is not - go back to using a crate - it really didn't work for us) would be great. (Sorry for such a long post)

  2. #2
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    Default House training a puppy - advice needed

    It sounds like your kids are loving being involved with the new pup, which is great!

    I have housetrained two dogs - one an 8 week old puppy and the other a 2 year old. I also tried crate training and hated it (and so did my dogs)!

    I think in your situation, it's important to remember that your pup is really still a tiny baby, and also, being a chihuahua, naturally has a fairly tiny bladder to begin with. I'm not sure if it is the size of chihuahuas that contributes to the problem, but I remember reading that they are notoriously difficult to toilet train when I was researching which breed of puppy to buy.

    I'm not saying this to be all doom and gloom, but instead really just to reassure you that you may be doing all the right things, and she might just take a little bit longer to get the message than other breeds would.

    Ok back to the issues you're having. I had the same issue with my pup thinking 4am was play time. We eventually realised it was because we were inadvertently reacting to how excited and cute he was to see us when we got up to let him out, and that was making him think it was morning time and appropriate to start playing. So we started leaving all the lights off when we went down to him, and we wouldn't make eye contact or speak to him. We would just open the door, let him do his thing, then let him back in and close the door again without acknowledging him at all - almost like a robot. When we did get up for the day at 6 or 7am, we showered him with attention and made sure he knew it was party time It only took a couple of mornings of this before he just started going back to his bed and snoozing again until we got up for the day.

    In terms of how long it takes to toilet train, I don't think I could say my boy was *completely* toilet trained until he was about 12 months old. What I mean by that is that occasionally up until about that age he might do an accidental wee on the tiles while we were out, or he might forget to wake us up when he woke up and just do a wee while he was half asleep. He's 2 now and we haven't had an accident in over a year. All I'm saying is that like a child who might be completely potty trained during the day, accidents may continue to happen occasionally when they aren't thinking or are sleepy, for a fair while after the hardest part of potty training is done.

    I'm the meantime, the best tips I have to offer are to watch for the signs that poo or a wee is coming (turning in a circle, sniffing the floor etc) and intercept before she has time to do it. For us, I found the easiest way to do this in the early days was to keep him confined to the living area of the house, where one of us would always be. I appreciate with kids it might be harder to do that, but I really do think it stopped him being able to 'hide' from us to do his business somewhere he wasn't supposed to.

    I would personally avoid the paper, because the last thing you want is for her to make an association between the way paper feels under her feet and toileting. Associations like that are much harder to break than they are to make, and while it would be convenient now, I don't know how convenient it would be in the future when you're trying to teach her not to go inside at all.

    Good luck with it It sounds like you're going about it in a very sensible way. I'm sure it's just a matter of consistency and time

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    melissa1978  (28-12-2016)

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    Thanks for the reply. I did also read that chihuahuas were hard to toilet train - but you hope that yours will be the exception!
    You've helped - even just the reassurance that we'll get there eventually. We'll just keep at it. We'll try the no attention in the morning thing as well.

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    I have toilet trained quite a few puppies, some took longer than others. I hate to tell you, my last boy took until he was 10 months old. And all of my dogs have needed out for the toilet around 5am until they were around 2 years old. It sounds like you're doing the right thing though, lots of toilet breaks, lots of praise when she goes in the right place. I remember our puppy preschool teacher saying "have a pee party" lots of jumping about, clapping, cuddles, excitement! With all of my dogs I felt like the puddles would NEVER end, then one day I thought hang on, I haven't cleaned up any puddles today, and you realise they've got it! Hang in there, it will get better!

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    Thanks Bezzy. I've read puppy websites that say it should only take a few weeks - maybe they're just lucky or have super smart pups. We'll just keep at it. <sigh>
    On the bright side, my floor has never been so clean - I used to vacuum every couple of days and wash it every now and then. Now although we clean up each puddle as it happens I still feel the need to mop it every day., which normally means vacuuming first as well. Plus if the kids don't want their things chewed they have to pick them up, which is better motivation than us just telling them to clean up in the past!

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    Quote Originally Posted by melissa1978 View Post
    Thanks Bezzy. I've read puppy websites that say it should only take a few weeks - maybe they're just lucky or have super smart pups. We'll just keep at it. <sigh>
    On the bright side, my floor has never been so clean - I used to vacuum every couple of days and wash it every now and then. Now although we clean up each puddle as it happens I still feel the need to mop it every day., which normally means vacuuming first as well. Plus if the kids don't want their things chewed they have to pick them up, which is better motivation than us just telling them to clean up in the past!
    Yep, we always had paper towels at the ready and the carpet shampoo machine parked in the lounge . Using quite a natural cleaner without ammonia might help too.


 

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