- If you can’t directly supervise the puppy (especially during the first month), put the puppy in the crate.
- Feed the puppy in the crate at first so it associates the crate with good things!
- Most naps should occur in the crate. Make the crate a normal part of the routine—not a place for punishment. If the crate can be placed in an area where the puppy can see you and you can see it, the puppy will be more likely to accept it and even go in it on its own when tired.
- Try to not take the puppy out of the crate when it is whining or barking. This reinforces behavior that you don’t want. Eventually it will settle, then praise it and take it out.
- Praise and pet the puppy when it is eating, so it connects praise and petting to food.
- Try not to use treats only to reward behavior. You can use a treat on occasion—just because or as part of a playtime. Some ideas are to put peanut butter and kibble in a Kong and give it to the puppy as it goes into the crate to reinforce that the crate is a good thing where good things happen!
- If the puppy is biting, tell it “no” and stop petting it. Resume petting and if it continues, tell it “no” again and stop petting.
- However cute behavior is as a puppy, ask yourself, “Is this something that is OK when a grown dog?” If the answer is “no”, don’t allow it when young. For example, jumping up to be petted and cuddled is cute with a 15 lb dog, but unacceptable with a grown dog. Keep “4 on the floor” as a young dog and you will be rewarded later when you have a dog that doesn’t jump!
- Dogs are very sensitive to your emotions. If you are frustrated or tired, the dog will sense it. Try to realize that housebreaking is something that is important to you and not to the dog. Most accidents are “owner error” not puppy error. Try not to take your frustration out on the dog. It is easier to take them out more often and not have them need to go, than to clean up a mess and try to get different behavior!
Good Luck—it's worth it! Where else can you get unconditional love?
Written by Darlene Colmar, Asheville, NC