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Please help with housebreaking my new cocker spaniel!!

pk's mom
December 25th, 2005, 05:10 PM
I got a 19 week old cocker spaniel puppy from my husband for Christmas (I was shocked!) and he's awesome. We've had him 4 days and love him, but are having lots of trouble with house breaking. Neither my husband nor I have ever done the puppy thing before so we're clueless.

We didn't start out crating PK and to our knowledge he has never been crated before in a small crate like we have (he was living at a full-time cocker spaniel breeder and show-er's). Ever time we've crated him while we've been gone (about 5-6 times), or through the night (last night was the first for that and he cried for the majority of the night), he has pooped or peed in the crate. We've been told that puppies aren't supposed to do that. How come he is? Should we just be patient and he'll stop doing that soon, or are we doing something wrong?

Also, he gives us no indication of his need to use the restroom. Obviously we let him out in the mornings, after meals and before bedtime, but other than that, he'll just go at random times in the house without warning or any sound. I'm getting tired of soiled carpet! I'm confused about all I'm reading on crating/confinement/putting on a leash, etc while we're at home with him.

As you can tell, I have TONS of questions - but these are my main concern. Please help!

Lucky Rescue
December 25th, 2005, 07:56 PM
Hi and welcome! You're going to need patience, because it could be 6 months or more until your puppy is reliably housetrained. If you're tired of it after 4 days, you're in a for long ride.;)

Two things you need to change right now:

Do not let the puppy run loose in the house. Every time he pees or poops on the floor, the behavior is reinforced.

Do not send the puppy out to go, but take him out. This is the only way you can praise and encourage him for going outside, otherwise he wont' know he's doing something good.

This puppy was at the breeder a long time, and I guess they didn't try to housetrain him at all? Since he was there so long, he's probably upset at being in a new home, so you'll have to get him on a strict schedule to give him confidence.

You're right, he shouldn't be messing his crate at night but it might be from distress, since he's also crying. Crate training takes time and you need to do it very gradually, literally a few seconds at a time, then build up. You can't just bring a 4 1/2 month old puppy home, put him in a crate then leave.

Since the last thing you want is a "dirty dog" who has no hesitation about soiling his bed, you'll probably need to get up during the night and take him out. No fooling around or playing. Just stand there holding the leash until he goes, then put him right back to bed.

Here is a very helpful link on housetraining puppies.

December 25th, 2005, 09:02 PM
Welcome! Congratulations on your new family member! Puppies are a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Housebreaking does take time but will happen with a lot of patience and dedication. You came to the right place for some great advice.

Some great advice has already been said. I just wanted to add something to it which I found to be very helpful when housebreaking my beagle years ago.

Puppies will have to go after eating, drinking, sleeping and playing. If your puppy is not on a feeding schedule, you should seriously consider it. After feeding, take him outside. Stay with him as already mentioned and he should go soon. The same with when he wakes up. Take him directly to his spot and he should go. Never leave him out of your sight! As soon as you see him sniffing around and looking like he is about to squat, take him to his potty spot. I used to my beagle on a leash and tethered to me. This way I always knew where she was and I was able to take her out as soon as she looked like she needed to go. Of course you can't always have the puppy attached to you, so this is where the crate comes in handy. When someone can't watch him, he should be crated.

Some puppies cannot hold it all night. You may need to take him to his spot during the night until he is able to hold it for longer periods of time. Normally the rule of thumb is puppies can hold it for as many hours as they are months old. So a 5 month old puppy can generally hold it for 5-6 hours.

pk's mom
December 26th, 2005, 12:23 PM
Thank you for your helpful advice! We're doing better in the last day. He slept didn't soil his crate twice yesterday when we left him (which he praised him A LOT for this) and didn't through the night, or cry more than 5 minutes last night. And he's gone outside much more than inside in the last day (which we're also praising him for A LOT)

We do go out with him everytime. So we're definitely there to observe and to praise him when he goes outside.

LR, you said we shouldn't let him run around free in the house. Does that mean he needs to be in his crate while we're home, or on a leash, or what?

6 months, huh? Well, it'll be worth it. I'm in love with him already!

Lucky Rescue
December 26th, 2005, 02:23 PM
you said we shouldn't let him run around free in the house. Does that mean he needs to be in his crate while we're home, or on a leash, or what?

Right. You can get him a puppy pen, or leash him to you. Of course, he can have a little free play period - where you can watch him - after he's been out and you're sure he's on "Empty!":p

The main thing to get housetraining accomplished as quickly as possible is to prevent accidents. It's much easier than trying to change a habit of eliminating inside, that quickly gets ingrained. If you let him go off loose in the house and he pees, you must not scold him, since it's your fault for not watching him. Prevention and praise is the best way to train!:)