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House Breaking Suggestions

The first rule of housebreaking is to try NEVER to let the puppy have an accident in the house. Now to be perfect at this is unrealistic, but make sure the accidents he does have are supervised and easily cleaned up with and enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Remedy, etc (tile, hardwood, linoleum floors). If the dog is allowed to soil carpets, he will return to that place over and over and continue to soil there. If he does have an accident on the carpet, soak up the urine or pick up the stool and saturate the area with an enzyme cleaner and soak up with a dry paper towel.

While you are housebreaking a puppy, it’s important to control what goes in. If you do so, you can predict what comes out. After eating a puppy will usually defecate within 20 minutes and the same with drinking. Feed the puppy 2-3 times each day. The total intake for the day should be about 1/2 cup of food, so spread it out according to how many times you feed. Always offer water throughout the day, every time you get the puppy out. After feeding, kennel puppy for 15 minutes, then take the him out to eliminate. 

I like to use a kennel (a hard sided box type) to facilitate housebreaking the puppies (Dogs are den animals and actually like being in an enclosed area. They will not soil in an area where they sleep or eat, unless they have been forced to do so over a period of time), so the first challenge is to help the puppy adjust to and like being in the kennel. This is done by introducing the kennel to the puppy and letting the him play in it until he has become accustomed to having it around. I find that the puppy will automatically start spending time in the kennel and playing and sleeping in it. You can even give him treats in the kennel to make being in there a pleasant experience. Be sure the area of the kennel the puppy has access to is only big enough for the puppy to turn around and lay down. If it’s any bigger, he will go to the far corner of the kennel and eliminate there, sleeping as far away from it as possible. You may have to “pack” the back of the kennel with towels, blankets or pillows to make the front area smaller until the pup grows into the kennel.

Once the puppy has adjusted to the kennel, begin leaving the puppy in the there most of the time. Keep the puppy in the kennel unless you are taking them outside to eliminate or they have just done so (Then they can spend 20 minutes SUPERVISED time in an area of the house that is uncarpeted. The owner can manage the pup if there is an accident and clean it up easily.)

Every hour or two, take the pup out of the kennel to the area you would like him to elimate outdoors (preferably on a leash). Give the pup a command such as “Go potty”, “Do it” or whatever you choose and let the pup move about, sniffing and looking for a place to go. Give the pup free reign on the lead, allowing 5-10 minutes to complete his business. You will know he’s about to go when he starts to circle and/or sniffing becomes more “frantic”. While he is eliminating, praise him quietly. Once he finishes, increase the intensity of the praise and give a small treat (About pea sized is sufficient for yorkies. Use cooked meat [chicken or beef] or store bought treats. I like the “chub” treats they sell at Petsmart. They are easy on puppy’s tummy.). If the puppy doesn’t perform while out, take him back indoors and place him IMMEDIATELY back in the kennel and try again in another 30 minutes. If he does what’s expected, you can bring him in and let him play on your kitchen floor for 20 minutes with supervision. Then, he needs to go back into the kennel. Repeat the process in another 1-2 hours. Small puppies might need a night run to the outdoors, but eventually, the pup will be able to hold it for the whole night. If you find he’s soiling in the kennel, clean immediately with an enzyme cleaner and be sure you take him out more often. You don’t want him getting into a habit of soiling the kennel or all your hard work is in vain. He will become what we call a “dirty dog” and not mind laying in his own waste.

Remember that dogs don’t know when they have done the wrong thing until you have trained them. Don’t fall into the error of thinking that he is having accidents to “punish” you or that he “knows”. If he acts guilty when you find an accident, it’s because he sees that you aren’t happy, not because he knows he did something wrong. 

When you come upon and accident, realize that it’s “your” fault that it happened. Just clean it up and move on. If you become angry with or punish the puppy, he won’t know what he’s done wrong. “Sticking his nose in it” doesn’t work. It just makes the puppy fearful and he’s always trying to second guess what made Mom or Dad mad. If you see the dog having an accident, shout “STOP” without anger, pick up the pup and take him to the potty place outside and do the routine (praising, etc).

Continue working with the dog over a period of time. Sometimes yorkies can take a couple of months to become reliable. As they do become more reliable, you can leave them out of the kennel for longer periods of time. Be sure when they are out of the kennel, you watch them and keep them in an enclosed area with a hard floor, not carpet.

If you work, arrange with your work to come home for lunch to let the dog out to potty. Leaving a dog for 8-9 hours per day kenneled is really hard on a dog. If you can’t do that, see if a neighbor will go in and let him out once a day.

I continue to use the kennel for the life of the dog. My dogs sleep in the kennels at night and I ALWAYS kennel them when I leave the house. Leaving a dog running free in the house while you are away is asking for trouble.

Eventually he WILL get it!! It’s really important to be consistent! Don’t give up. Yorkies are harder than some breeds and it may take more time than you think. Remember that yorkies aren’t always good about “telling” you when it’s time to go out, so just plan to take them out every 2 hours. If you have one that “tells” you, you are really lucky. If you work hard at this the first month+ you have your puppy, he will be a much better pet for the years to come.