10 week old pup-potty training getting worse
by new mum
We are the proud new parents of a 10 week old shih tzu. We have two main issues...the first one is house training. We made the decision to wee pad train him vs outside train for a number of reasons.
When he came home with us we did all the things we were told: we keep him most of the time in his play pen (we were advised against getting a crate) and bring him out only so often for play. We praise him and give treats when he goes on the pad, and keep an eye on him to catch him if he starts going on the floor.
Thing is...it seems as if he is getting more and more used to going on our floors than his pads. And he will go on the floor pretty much every time we take him out. When in his playpen he will go on the pad most of the time but not always. During the night he will do numerous pees and poops in his pen...mostly on the pads but not always. What are we doing wrong?
The second issue is that he is waking every night and crying/barking until we come out and soothe him..is this normal? And what should we do to discourage this? Last night he jumped over his playpen fence and came to our door.
Please help-we love him and want him to be happy and not confused/lonely.
Hi New Mum
Puppies can definitely be a challenge, and potty training is usually one of the biggest ones new owners face.
I'm not sure why you were advised against getting a crate for your pup, because it eliminates a lot of the problems involved in house breaking. Also, I do understand that in some instances it's very difficult to take a pup outside to relieve itself (maybe living in a high rise, disabilities, extreme cold etc.) but unless you intend for your little guy to always 'do his business' indoors, it's just going to make it all a whole lot more difficult, and confusing for him, to train him to puppy pads and then try to retrain him to go outside.
I would strongly suggest you go and buy him a crate and start using it right away. This is in no way cruel or unfair to him, in fact dogs are naturally den animals and that's why crate training is so effective. It actually works with your dogs natural desire not to pee or poop where he sleeps (in nature, the den would get unlivable pretty fast if dogs did that!).
It's vital that you get the right size though. It should be just big enough for your pup to stand up, sit down, turn around and lie down, without touching the sides. If it's bigger than that he'll find room for his 'bedroom' and the 'bathroom'. This is why he's pee-ing and poop-ing freely within his playpen, he thinks there's plenty of space!
Read my Crate Training page which tells you exactly how to use the crate for housebreaking. You need to take him to his potty spot (whether it's indoors or out) as soon as you take him out of his crate each time. Carry him if you think he may squat the minute he hits the floor. Praise him lavishly when he 'performs' in the right place. If he doesn't, give him plenty of time and encouragement. If he still doesn't 'go', put him back in the crate and try again in 20 mins or so.
I would really recommend that you take him outdoors if at all possible, rather than using the pads. But if it's got to be wee-wee pads then my suggestion would be to cover the entire floor of his playpen with the pads (this may mean buying another playpen for supervised playtimes AFTER he's done his business). When you want him to go potty put him in the playpen with the pads and tell him to "go potty" or something similar. This way he'll get used to the feeling of the pads and will learn to associate them with the act of elimination.
Puppies are creatures of habit, and learn through association. Potty training is basically just building the habit that you want him to adopt. And preventing the opportunity for him to learn bad habits - hence constant supervision to prevent accidents on the floor.
It does take a fair bit of time and effort though, and bucket-loads of patience on your part. But if you're consistent, once your puppy understands what you expect of him, it will come together. Most puppies are just beginning to be reliably trained by 6 months, some take much longer. Just be patient and consistent. Also, I'd recommend using an enzymatic type cleaner/deodorizer on the floor where he's already pee-ed or poop-ed. Most regular cleaners can't remove all traces of the odor that attracts dogs back to the same spot over and over. A product like Nature's Miracle works best, check out my Dog Urine Cleaning page for more info. and advice on this.
Now, as for the crying in the middle of the night. This is another, very common puppy habit. It's just like a baby crying for attention.
Here's another way in which the crate is invaluable. He won't be able to climb out of his crate, and at night that's where he should be sleeping. You can put it in your room with you, or anywhere else in the house.
Some pups make less fuss and feel more comforted if they're in the same room as their owners, others become much more demanding and unsettled and do best in a separate room. You will know which works best for you.
As long as he's had his potty break, ignore him if he cries in the crate. Never take him out when he's crying as he'll learn to associate his complaints with freedom - not good!
Of course, he's a baby, and his bladdder/bowel control is not great. He will most likely need to go out for at least one potty break at around 2am or so. At night most puppies can go longer between potty breaks than during the daytime. Do pick up his water bowl around 7pm, and give him his last meal at around 6pm. That way he has a chance to empty his bladder/bowels before bedtime. It makes the night time trips less frequent.
Don't worry about your pup being confused or lonely. You obviously love him very much and I'm certain he knows that. He's just a baby and is trying to figure it all out. He needs you to set consistent rules and show him what you expect from him.
Like kids, puppies do better with structure, routine and discipline, but of course there always needs to be plenty of love and approval too. He really wants to do what you want, and if you're fair, loving and consistent he'll learn pretty quickly.
I hope this helps you some. If you have other questions or concerns, feel free to let me know. Best of luck with your puppy.