What next ?!

Posted by dfeeley
Oct 17, 2007

I have an 18 week old female [I]Irish [/I]Jack Russell. We got her when she was 8 weeks old from a breeder with many years of positive customer references and feedback on her dogs. She raises them on a horse farm. As far as we know our dog was raised in a pen in the barn with her mom, with running around on the farm every now and then.

We keep her in a doggy playpen at night, and a fenced indoor doggy area during the day. When we got her home we started with the paper method in those areas. We really did not have a room to dedicate to her with the paper. We also were using the direct method, taking her outside every 2 hrs or so to promote going outside. We had to abandon the paper method after two weeks. When left alone, even with toys galore, she would always rip up the papers. So the direct method has been the focus for the last 10 weeks with a pretty consistent schedule. We take her out on a leash when its potty time or otherwise let her play around outside the house, supervised, with an electric fence setup (she learned it in 2 days!) Walks on the street are leashed.

For the most part I guess its been working. She's been very good about going as soon as she gets outside. She reasonably avoids going in her confined play areas. If she needs to go while she's is contained she will whimper to give the signal and we take her out. We don't have long after she gives the first whimper. Maybe just a few minutes at most. If we wait too long she will go in a corner or on her bedding/towels in the play areas. Again, we are pretty good with our schedule. In the total time we've had her she's only had about a dozen accidents at most in her play areas.

The problem is when we give her more freedom in the house, or when there are times she will need to hold it longer. She doesn't seem to respect the rest of the house as well as her play areas. If she's been given some freedom to roam around the house with us instead of giving us the whimper signal she will dash off quickly and just go somewhere. We usually do not catch her doing this because she's quick, so the opportunities to correct her have been few. Again, here she's had only about a dozen or so accidents in the house as well.

So what I am looking for is some feedback and advice. Does this process sound normal? She can hold it overnight (11pm to 6am usually) and for about 3-4hrs at most during the day. Any advice on how to get her to respect the rest of the house like her play areas? Should we stay the course or should we try something else at this point?

Again, any feedback or advice would be helpful.
Posted by MartyEd
Dec 18, 2007
Hi there,

Thank you for your post regarding your young Jack Russell. Sorry, I have only just come across your post now. How have you been getting on with her training? Hopefully by now she is well and truely trained to toilet outside only. Hopefully you have been sure to use a non-ammonia based pet odour neutraliser to ensure she doesn't repeatedly toilet on the same spots, as this is a very important point to remember about pets that toilet inside. Because dogs usually choose a toilet spot via the smell and would rather toilet on the same spot, this commonly occurs in houses where previous accidents have not been properly cleaned up.

I would have continued as you have been with constant monitoring of your puppy when she woke up before she went to sleep at night and in between times, after mealtimes and playtimes. In order to help maximize the training of your puppy, it is important to understand when a puppy is most likely to urinate (pee) or defecate (poo). Typically, this can be divided into four categories:

1. A puppy usually eliminates (urinates or defecates) soon after it wakes up, since during sleep urine production continues to fill the bladder. It is important to remember that puppies sleep several times a day and so have several waking periods.
2. After eating a meal a puppy is likely to defecate within ten to twenty minutes. This is due to a physiological function called the gastro-colic response which is, in more simple terms, a bodily response produced after eating that causes a dog’s bowels to move leading to defecation. Since young puppies are generally fed at around three to four times daily, they will also need to be taken outside, or to paper (depending on your training method) after being fed.
3. If a puppy has been highly active at one time, it is likely to eliminate soon after.
4. In general puppies usually also eliminate before sleeping each night.

As you can see, there are many times throughout a single day that a puppy may eliminate. It is important to remember that, as well as these general categories, a puppy may eliminate at any time and thus you need to be aware that accidents will happen. They are bound to occur no matter how prepared or organized you are since:

The muscles in a puppy bladder are still developing resulting in less control
The smaller size of the bladder results in more frequent urination of small volumes.

From what you described in your email regarding the puppy accidentally urinating a small amount once she returns in side the house, you may need to leave the puppy outside slightly longer after you wait with her. She is very young at the moment though and most people only begin training there puppy at 10 weeks old, so it sounds as though you have a head start here. Take it easy on your puppy for this reason – she is young and will not learn everything immediately. This combined with the fact with the physiological differences between a puppy and an adult dog as described above mean you have to take it easy with the training and not get too upset if small accidents occur.

You can help regulate the elimination process with well controlled schedules and a frequent regime of resting, eating and playing. At times when this schedule is changed by other family members having other separate activities with the puppy, her schedule and need to eliminate will change as well. A common mistake made by many owners when they get their new puppy and bring them home for the first time is to allow free run of the house. Allowing the puppy a free run will interrupt and set the training process back several weeks. This setback happens because the puppy will most likely ‘accidentally’ eliminate in several areas of the house. As a result of the odor and her familiarity of the area, she may remember these areas as being those at which she can go back to in order to eliminate again. Unless these areas are scrubbed and deodorized the problem will worsen.

Supervision of the puppy must be carried out at all times at this early stage. Not only does this ensure your puppy cannot cause trouble, but it also greatly aids the training process. In circumstances where it is not possible to devote all this time to supervision, crate training could be used as it sounds as though you have been doing. Because a puppy will generally eliminate in an area they have previously urinated or defecated, it is important to remove and neutralize any area that has been affected. This is a very important aspect of house training both puppies and adult dogs.

By making set times during the day when someone in the family is able to feed and then supervise your puppy you will be able to help her in getting to the area you have chosen to train her to eliminate in. In general a puppy should be fed three to four times per day. The day should therefore be arranged such the puppy can be fed on three to four separate occasions with supervision. It also needs to be arranged so that when the puppy awakes from sleep, someone is available to take her outside to the toilet.

Whether it’s the middle of the night, early morning or after a day-nap, an awakening puppy needs to be taken outside to urinate and/or defecate. As stated earlier, puppies are generally fed three to four smaller meals per day. Elimination after a period of activity or exercise is also common, so you should wait with her outside and encourage her to urinate/defecate before letting her back into the house.

By following the guidelines above, you should have more control over your puppy’s house training problem. Puppies generally do not give you much warning that they need to go out, because they haven’t yet learnt that they HAVE to go out! For this reason following the guidelines above will give you the best idea of when your puppy will most likely be feeling like urinating or defecating. If you catch her about to toilet inside, quickly run and pick her up to carry her outside. Sometimes she will end up urinating or defecating in your arms, but this is just something you will have to put up with for the next little while until she is properly trained. If you are too late to pick her up, but she is still in the act or it is definitely only seconds after the event, you can reprimand her with a guttural growl “AAAAH” and a clap of the hands so that she knows what he has done is wrong. Doing so after the event, be it more than 10 seconds will be pointless and only confuse your dog as well as potentially giving her a submissive complex later in life.

Also make sure that when you take your puppy outside to toilet you do the following:

1. After mealtimes, waking up and exercise your puppy should be gently picked up and taken outside or preferably lead via a collar and lead outside to your chosen toileting area.
2. While waiting patiently for your puppy to eliminate, use an encouraging, high pitched tone of voice to say the word or phrase you wish to use. Repeat this while you wait. eg. “Toilet!”
3. Continue repeating the word you have chosen until the puppy has finished urinating and defecating before giving plenty of praise and attention. “GOOD GIRL!!, WELL DONE, YOU’RE SO CLEVER!!” – using an excited and happy high pitched voice. This praise needs to occur directly after the puppy has finished in order to be effective. You may then both return inside. Do not play with the puppy until it has eliminated. It may be a good idea to briefly play with her after she toilets outside since it may help that last little bit out that has previously been coming out inside!

It sounds as though your puppy already has a good idea of where to defecate. I would not worry trying to get your puppy to respond to the door bell to go to the toilet. She is very young and will definitely pick up what to do very soon. It does take a couple of months for a puppy this young to get the full idea of what it’s all about. Once you have completed your toilet training and you’re happy that your puppy knows what is right and was isn’t, you can consider installing a doggy door and training her to use this so she can go outside to the toilet whenever she feels the need to.

Please let us know how you've gone over the last month or two with your puppies training.

Kind Regards,

Mark Edwards
SitStayFetch Team