Author Topic: Potty Training In The Winter  (Read 979 times)

Offline katermuffins

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Potty Training In The Winter
« on: February 03, 2013, 12:42:25 AM »
I recently adopted a three month old pomeranian/yorkie mix. She's incredibly sweet, not at all shy, and very bright. As a first time owner, she's making most things very easy for me.

The first day (yesterday), everything went well. She's, so far, had three accidents in the house, but been out a few more times than that. Unfortunately, after our first day full of success, we found the ground covered with snow, which was apparently quite confusing. We shoveled out some places for her, but she still doesn't seem clear on it. Every time I get her outside, she romps around, plays, and tries to eat a variety of things she shouldn't before she gets around to doing her business. Her small size, plus the snow, even in a coat, gets her shaking before she can get around to it in this weather. She held it for a good half the day, and, after being out four times, finally went when I let her out of her crate for dinner. Is there anything I can do to keep this from causing more mistakes?

In general, she seems very excited to be out, loves playing, and has tons of energy. She skitters all around in her room when's out, dashes through the yard and strains at her leash, but seems too distracted for things like walks. Getting her in her crate for bed is a lot easier (and quieter) when she's worn out, of course, so we've been trying to go for walks. She spent most of ours trying to eat dirt, pebbles, and leaves off of the sidewalk ( ::)), then stopping without warning and starring at me. I know she's not out of energy, because she'll often dash off a few seconds after we start walking again. Because she's so new, I'm unsure of whether this is her adjusting, or if there's something I could be doing to help. What do you guys think?

Offline dogsnbears

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2013, 09:56:57 PM »
we are potty training too so i feel your pain. on the plus side we have dogs that already got outside and on the negative training 2 puppies at once is really hard. You can give treats after she goes and lots of positive reinforcement. I'm trying to train them to go on command but it takes a long time to learn. at least my last 2 dogs did, but it's so handy once they know it. just gotta keep trying though. must be really confusing where to go when all of sudden there's a pile of snow in the way.

Offline slynx

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 10:45:10 AM »
The benefit of snow is that you can take her to the exact spot she peed before (yellow snow does have its good side!).  That's a powerful olfactory cue -- dogs smell where they peed, and it makes them more likely to identify it as a "potty place."  This is, of course, the same reason that avoiding accidents inside is so important.  Hope you have some enzymatic cleaner for the indoor spots, to avoid confusing her, and it's great that you're using a system of confinement/supervision to try to reduce accidents...keep it up!

To try to speed things up outside, keep her on leash, don't play with her, and walk her directly to the potty spot.  Then stand still while she leaps around and does her puppy silliness.  As soon as she pees, give her something yummy and a big puppy party, including finally playing with her, before heading back inside again.  Mostly though, just remember that it takes time to learn something complicated and new, and potty training is definitely both.  Especially when the surface that's okay to pee on just transformed completely...that's a lot for a puppy brain to take in!

Offline katermuffins

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 04:39:34 PM »
Thanks guys :)

The snow is slowly melting, making the ground once again confusing  ::)

How do people handle getting them used to being out of the crate? She has a little room sectioned off for her, but we still don't want accidents in there! She's been here since Friday and has been mostly going outside, aside from an accident or two inside the first day. She's very energetic, so even though we spend time on walks and doing play, she still doesn't love to be put in the crate. We usually let her out, take her to the lawn for business, inside for food and a quick play, on a walk, then back inside for some more crate time. I'd like to be increasing her 'play time' in which she's out in her room with a few toys and one of us sitting with her, but we can only keep an eye on her (and only her) for so long. I'm not sure how to extend the time without trusting her not to pee, and I'm not sure how to trust her without letting her stay out for longer. Where's the balance?

Offline A_STEW

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 01:07:52 AM »
As soon as she's out of the crate you can start training her to signal to go outside. My dog really responded to the bells you hang on your door knob, within a week he was ringing them 100% of the time he needed to pee. Some dogs will instinctively scratch at the door. At 3 months she is definitely old enough to start signalling in some way.  You also can't be afraid to let her have accidents, it's going to happen. The best thing to do is catch her and show her the proper protocol, i.e. taking her directly outside so she understands that's where you go to do business. I didn't crate my puppy (well I tried to and he outgrew it in a matter of weeks) so he's always been just roaming around the house, he's 10 months now, and it sure didn't take him long to realize that he is supposed to pee outside, I think we caught him maybe 4 times and he had it down.  Make sure you only use the crate as a place for "down time", like sleep or when you absolutely can't be home to watch her, putting her in too often may start to feel like punishment, especially if she just had an accident. If she's in there too much it will make her go crazy high energy when she's let out too, which can be really annoying in the winter when you want to her to hurry up because it's cold haha.  Basically..she's a puppy and she's going to screw up, just make sure you're there to correct her when you have to, and positively reinforce her when she gets it right.

Offline katermuffins

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 02:08:45 AM »
I've never heard of dogs signaling before! My family dog growing up was a lab/shar-pei mix that would just come in and out of the house (no leash) whenever we did, so we never had to really worry about it! How exactly do you train them to signal?

Another thought on that note, our lab always hung out around us. He never ran off the yard or left, even once when my mother lost track of him on a walk, we found him back at our house, waiting on the lawn like always. I've never owned a dog so small before and am just starting to notice some real differences. Will this be one of them, or will she eventually be fine wandering on her own?

Offline A_STEW

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 02:50:40 AM »
Considering she is so tiny, I probably wouldn't trust her outside off leash until you know for certain she will stay with you, you can always test her in a small fenced area until she's ready. Some dogs, small or not, never quite get the "stay with me" idea so it's a good idea to practice. My guy is a big baby at 10 months and 70lbs and I wouldn't dream of walking him off leash, he'd never come back. In the house it isn't a problem though because she can't exactly wander off. Keeping her confined to one room, like the living room etc,  isn't a bad idea when you're house training just so you can spot an accident right away. If she pees on the floor and you don't actually witness it there is nothing to correct, she's not going to connect her accident 10 minutes ago with her consequences now. You probably already know this, but never harshly scold her for having an accident, it usually just makes them fearful of going in front of you can can cause major problems with training. A simple "no" and a correction are good, along with praise when she does the right thing.

As for the signalling all my previous dogs would simply just walk to the door and scratch when they wanted out but the new pup just didn't get it. I bought a set of bells you hang on the door knob at my local pet store. They might even make  something similar for small breeds, or you could just extend them down a bit to reach closer to the floor. To train him to use them every time I put him outside I would make him sit by the door and I would hit the bells myself before taking him out. He came to realize that the sound of the bells meant the door opening. At first, even if he hit them by accident just walking by, he'd get praise and we'd go outside. Then he started to hit them sometimes when he had to pee, and he'd be rewarded again with praise and going outside.  Eventually he started ringing them just when he actually had to go out.  I trained him at around 3 months old and he's been perfectly house-trained since. In other houses without the bells he goes to the door and scratches, he finally realized that making noise/showing me was the only way to be let out reliably. Praise worked really well for him but if you find it isn't as useful you can always give a small treat and then take her outside. Your local pet store probably has a million ideas/products for house training, this was just the easiest method for me.

I have heard from some that small dogs can be trickier to house train, but it's all about consistency. You're already doing a good job with taking her out after meals, that's a good habit to get into at a young age.  I'm of the belief that a dog is a dog, regardless of size, they all have the same capabilities and issues.

Offline katermuffins

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 12:34:01 PM »
Thanks for all your help, I really didn't realize I'd have so many questions, but this is tough!

Is "no" just something they come to understand? We use it for when she nips on our fingers/clothes, chews on something in the house she shouldn't, potties somewhere she shouldn't, or eats something she shouldn't (she thinks rocks, mulch, and leaves all look suspiciously like her food). I've noticed that when you call her or praise her, she reacts very strongly to a positive tone and will come running, tail wagging, and giving kisses. However, using a harsher tone with "no" doesn't quite get a result. I try to pair it with the correction of whatever she's doing wrong, like saying "no" while I pull the rocks out of her mouth, but she still doesn't seem to recognize it. Is she just learning slower, or am I doing something wrong?

What's the story on puppy pads? We want to be able to have her out of her crate more so she'll get used to running around and not chewing/peeing on everything, but with her, unless you're following her every step, poised to grab her, you won't catch her until the end of an accident, even if you're just watching from across the room. My mother suggested puppy pads, which she used with our old dog, but now that we're about five days into the regular house breaking, I was wondering if it would be too much of a setback/confusion for her?

Also, on the matter of the crate, is there anything I can do to make her more happy to be there? The place she came from kept them in very small crates, so even though she has her favorite soft toy and a hard chewy, plus a nice towel liner, she's always unhappy to be away from us. She hates being locked up. She'll allow it if she's exhausted, but otherwise it causes a good bit of whining. I don't want her to see it as a punishment and I'm afraid she considers being away from her people to be one. We often cover it like a bird cage with a thin blanket and she'll settle more quickly, but if we move or leave the room, she hears us and starts trying to dig her way out and yips and whines. What could I do to make it a more positive experience for her?
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 12:36:50 PM by katermuffins »

Offline A_STEW

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2013, 12:39:48 AM »
It isn't really the "no" so much as it is paring it with the correction. It sounds like you're doing the right thing. Say if she were to playfully nip you, you'd say "no!" then remove your hands and ignore her until she showed correct behaviour, then lavish all the praise you could on her for behaving properly. They learn pretty quick that no means they aren't going to be getting attention. Be careful not to give negative attention either, one "no" and then the correction is enough and leave it at that.

I've never used puppy pads but I know people who have. I reasoned that I didn't want Lincoln ever thinking going pee in the house was okay, even on a pad, but many people successfully use them and then transition outside. If you place them by a door leading outside it is more effective. That way when she pees on them she's getting the idea that going to the door= relieving herself.  They are a great alternative if you have to work long hours etc once she's older and has run of the house. I would say if you don't get results with just taking her outside at regular times and it would be worth a shot.

As for the crate, it sounds like she's got plenty to do in there. When she's in the crate you can sit with the door open and give her attention. That would show her it's not a bad place to be. Giving her a treat, even just a few kibbles, when she goes in there could also help.  The ideal thing would be getting her to enter the crate on her own, not having to put her in there. As she gets more used to it the whining should stop.  If you play games where she has to run into the crate to retrieve a toy it will get her used to entering on her own. Her crate should be her safe place, reward her every time she is in there quietly, and keep the door open when she's out playing so she has the option of going in when she gets tired. I think over time she will get used to it. Moving to a new home with new people and rules can be pretty stressful for a puppy, it's a lot of change, she just needs some time to settle in.

Offline Kati33

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2013, 11:42:12 AM »
You can also start feeding her her meals in the crate with the door open. That will increase positive association with the crate. And try not to make a big deal out of letting her out of the crate. Make sure she is quiet and calm, open the door and simply walk away. If you pick her up and love on her, it becomes like you are "rescuing" her and she begins to think that getting out of the crate is special and will whine even more to be let out.
Kati33
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Offline katermuffins

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Re: Potty Training In The Winter
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2013, 02:00:39 PM »
How soon should I see results in housebreaking? Most places that I've read say a few weeks should do it. We're nearing the end of week one, but I'm really unsure of our progress. I sleep downstairs on a couch beside her crate, so she'll wake me with barks and whines if she needs to go to the bathroom (usually about six hours after she goes in), but she'll start up one or two hours later because she wants to play too, so that gets a bit confusing. Play time consists of us following her carefully because we don't want to miss a sign and mess up and have an accident. What I've read has told me accident prevention is probably the most important thing so that the room doesn't smell like a place to go, so we're very careful. She usually sniffs a bit, then just goes. But she's also only been in the room for a few days, so I'm never sure whether it's exploring or searching for a spot. That being said, I'm not sure if we're really seeing progress. She had two accidents the first day inside, but that was when we didn't know what signs to look for. She had less in the following, but in the last two days, she ran behind one person that had her out and peed, and the next day started to go right in front of us. She didn't seem to have a problem with going there and had been outside less than ten minutes ago. Is the progress us catching her or her learning? What should we be doing at this point?