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please help with house training our puppy

(26 Posts)
Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 13:21:18


This is going to be long but I'm hoping that by giving as much detail as possible someone will be able to help.

After a lot of thinking, we have recently bought an 11 week German shepherd puppy (dexter). He is lovely.

The thing we are struggling with is the house training. Not the hadr work aspect of it, but simply that we don't know if what we are doing is right and we are going nowhere fast!

At the moment:

I am at home with Dexter most of the time (we also have a 10 month old DD). We don't have a big enough house to have a large crate up permanently but we do have a nice little porch at the back of the house with floor space not much bigger than a crate. You can also shut it off. Dexter has his bed in there + food and water bowl. The way we have been trying to work it is- we are taking Dexter to the garden when we feel it is the right time. When/if he goes he gets a small treat and lots of praise. We then take him back inside where he has free reign for a while downstairs.
If he doesn't go for a wee outside within a few minutes, he goes back in the porch for a few minutes and then I try again until he goes. I also use the porch for popping him in for short periods when I need to get him out from underfoot- so I guess we use it a bit like a crate.

At night time ( or in the day if we go out for longer than say 1/2 an hour), we leave the porch door open into the kitchen where we put down an area of newspaper for when he needs to go.


1) When I come down in the morning there is usually 3-4 wees and 1 poo. Is that normal? I thought that puppies of his age (nearly 12 weeks) could hold out a bit longer than that?

2)I feel that Dexter is confused (as you would expect!) by getting regular access to garden but having newspaper at night. AAlthough I catch most accidents this is not really anything to do with him- if he feels like weeing inside he just does, usually on the area of the kitchen floor where the newspaper would usually be. I have thought about shutting him in porch overnight, setting an alarm, and trying to get him in the garden but from the number of wees I see in the morning, I doubt I could get up enough times to catch them all. My nights are also rather taken up by DD who was extremely premature and feeds regularly still during the night.

3) Even if I did set the alarm and get up, there would still be occasions every now and then when I need to be out for a couple of hours in the day- shopping, taking DD to a group once a week etc. This is not often but I don't like to leave him in the porch for that time so would need to put newspaper down anyway- therefore the confusion still exists ifyswim?

4) I am getting a bit concerned, as I said above, with the amount of wee he is producing... for example, I came back from music group with DD this am. On the newspaper was at least 2 wees. I took him in garden- he did a wee (lots of praise). He ran back inside and promptly weed on kitchen floor. I cleaned up, turned around, and he was having another wee.We all then went into lounge to play. Within 2 minutes he was up, snifing around. I went outside with him quickly. He weed again.4 wees in 15 minutes?
we restrict his water at night but not in the day.I think he drinks quite a lot! I was fully prepared for the trips to the garden and for accidents, but from what i have read he shouldn't be going as often as this!It is strating to affect my enjoyment of him as I do have dd to think about as well and can't be spending literally ALL my time dodging wees!

So, just wanted some general advice really- how can we progree from here? has anyone here paper trained at night but not in the day successfully? Are there any solutions yoy can think of? What are your thought on the amount he is weeing?

Also (and this is a bit off-topic) he is a gangly little thing at the mo- all long legs. He has been checked over by a vet and mum and dad had good hip scores. I've noticed when he is playing or sometimes just standing still, his back legs do a little wobble and then swing to the side slightly. Vet didn't seem concerned but just wondered whether anyone has noticed this with their pups?

if you got to the end of this, thank you!


Disenchanted3 Thu 15-Oct-09 13:22:35

My sons Dexter , lol grin

he pees on the floor too grin

LittleRedCar Thu 15-Oct-09 13:33:29

If you take him out and he wees when he comes in you are not staying out long enough. It can take quite a while at first - he'll be too busy sniffing and looking around. Give a command as soon as he starts to wee (e.g. be quick!) and praise like mad. Over time he will associate the command with weeing and will be able to do it when you ask him to.

Initially you must take him out every hour, plus as soon as he wakes up and immediately after feeding.

I don't use paper as I find it confusing (for the pup!) and you have to house train twice.

Re his legs - his co-ordination will improve as he gets older. He's growing very fast and his nerves are not fully developed, so he may wobble a bit! If you are concerned about HD then make sure he is on a large breed food (for slow growth) and that you limit his exercise until he is fully grown, at about 12-15 months.

Good luck.

LittleRedCar Thu 15-Oct-09 13:36:22

And yes, they can quite easily wee 4 times in 15 minutes when excited!

It does get better, honest wink

wildfig Thu 15-Oct-09 13:37:14

It sounds as if you're doing everything right, but he's just a baby and still learning. Can you get hold of a collapsible wire crate, just for night-time? He might be confused about the whole inside/outside thing. Puppies hate 'toileting' (I have only ever heard that phrase in dog magazines and now DH and I can't stop using it... 'solid toilet', 'liquid toilet', 'Mr Whippy toilet', etc) in their sleeping space, and it does seem to help them to learn to hold it in through the night.

And you have my sympathies about the pee river. Our puppy (16 weeks now) seems to have a reserve tank that he can release at will. I don't let him out of the kitchen until he's done a Liquid Toilet outside, and yet there he still does the occasional puddle minutes later. I find that sometimes he'll do a wee for praise/treat outside, but if I keep him there for another minute, he'll empty the tank properly. Routine also helps: set a timer and take him out on the hour? But if he seems to be drinking a lot/weeing a lot, ask the vet. Puppies do drink/pee much more than adults.

They also wobble around. Ours can splay his back legs out like Bambi. I think it's just part of growing up and the muscles strengthening?

Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 13:39:46

Thanks for the advice. We do wait for him to have wee as long as possible, but I've read that if you stay outside too long then it takes the emphasis off what they are there to do? Most of the time he does have one, he just has another one as soon as we get back inside!

What do you do at nighttime?



Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 13:43:19

Wildfig, thanks for the message. It helps to know i am not alone. Would you say that using paper at night does more harm than good? i will look around for collapsable crate. Is the idea with that, that you come down in the night to let them out? I will consider doing that if it helps in long run.


Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 13:50:27

Also, if i managed to do the crate overnight, how does it work if, like I mentioned, i need to go out for a couple of hours in the day? I don't like the thought of him being in the crtae or porch for that long?


LittleRedCar Thu 15-Oct-09 13:55:04

Well, I've never heard that...grin

At night I pop puppy in a crate and go to bed. Depending on the pup, after a few nights/weeks/months they will be clean overnight. I think 11pm until, say, 5.30 am is reasonable at this age.

LittleRedCar Thu 15-Oct-09 13:57:33

x post: I've never heard that about being out too long taking the emphasis off weeing.

If you go out in the day it's fine to leave pup for a couple of hours, and better to do so in a crate/porch where you know they can't come to any harm. Unless you mean going out for 2 hours straight after shutting him in all night?

wildfig Thu 15-Oct-09 13:58:54

Using paper at night sends out a mixed message - ie, it's OK to do this at night but not during the day. Puppies' brains are quite small. At 11 weeks, our pup could go from midnight, when we put him to bed with a last wee, until 7am, when I got up. (By way of example, our grown up dog is perfectly content to go from midnight to half eight; she has the bladder of a camel.) For the first couple of nights, I slept downstairs while he got used to the crate, and let him out at 3am, but to be honest, after the third night, he slept through and I snuck back up to my own bed.

He has a coop cup attached to his crate so he has water during the night, but not gallons. Crates aren't everyone's cup of tea, but they do speed up the house training process, and it means you can leave the puppy somewhere secure if you have to go out. Once he gets chewy, this will be a bonus.

Also, don't feel bad about the wee issue encroaching on your great love. It's totally normal, and does pass. So long as you don't let the puppy see that you're gnashing your teeth while you clean up the mess. Last week, I told our puppy (in manically cheerful tones) that his daddy had gone away to London because there was a poo in the sitting room. Another important thing that you're probably already doing, so apols if you already know: clean up with some Simple Solution from Pets at Home so there's no trace of the smell - if there is, he'll scent it, and wee there again.

I am planning to go on Dragon's Den with Pup-Nap Wee Pants, then I can actually take him to people's houses without going hot and cold, and searching for emergency exits.

Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 14:16:14

He he, I would buy them! I have heard so many good things about crates but don't know much about them. How big in relation to the dog do they have to be? I am only saying this because I am quite clueless about them, but when I picture one, it is like a cage- and I don't understand how a dog can be content in it for a couple of hours? That is not a criticism, I am certainly up for trying it, I just don't really understand it?

wildfig Thu 15-Oct-09 14:33:32

It doesn't have to be like a cage; the metal ones are just easier to collapse and stow, esp if you've got a big dog like a GSD. Ours are covered with blankets, so it's more like a natural den, and they have cosy bedding inside. I feel like getting in them myself some days...

The idea is that the crate becomes a retreat for the dog, especially if there are small children around - the dogs can get away from tiny fingers, as much as the other way around. (Plus, if he's ever ill and has to spend time in a crate at the vet's, it won't be an extra 'new' stress for him.) It should be big enough for the dog to stretch out comfortably, and turn around; any bigger, and the puppy will just poo at one end and sleep at the other. I would get as big as you can, and block off sections. See if there are any used ones in your local paper or Freecycle; some people use them until the dog's house trained, and then let the dog sleep in a basket over night.

amazonianwoman Thu 15-Oct-09 15:26:24

We have a crate for our new puppy (8wk old miniature schnauzer, so much smaller!) - I bought if off ebay - only £22 and probably not as sturdy as the proper pet shop ones but it does the job just fine.

The floor is entirely covered with vetbed fleece stuff, he has 2 coop cup bowl things at one end for food & water and a couple of blankets at the other end (one that I slept with, one with his mum's scent - we've only had him 4 days) And a couple of toys. I've covered it with a fleece blanket, it's very cosy. He's in there right now cos DS 2.7 was getting a bit boisterous with him.

From night one we fed him about 7pm then took away his water around 9pm. Out into the garden for last wee/poo around 11.30pm (I'm a night owl anyway) then not a peep (or a poo or a wee grin) til 6am when DH takes him out. We haven't put paper/pads down anywhere - did try a puppy pad in the kitchen but he just played with it.

He's by no means house trained yet - we had 3 wees in the house yesterday (my fault, was a bit engrossed in work on laptop), but none today, just one poo indoors since we got him. But he instinctively seems to know that his crate is his bed and he doesn't soil it. He goes in there when I do the morning school run (too much hard work at the minute to carry him to school, but plan to do so soon when I've got a better routine) Crates are fab!!

BTW our pup doesn't seem to drink loads, even though he has free access during the day, which does make life a little easier!

Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 15:29:50

sounds successful! so how long is the longest in people's opinions that you can leave a puppy in a crate when you go out? I don't go out for that long at a time (usually up to 2 hours max), but just wondering...

amazonianwoman Thu 15-Oct-09 15:39:52

I'm not one of the resident experts grin but I would've thought 2 hours would be OK? At 11 wks I think they can hold on for 2 hours?

I've only needed to leave Max for 1 hr so far - have even arranged for someone to take DD to ballet after school so I'm not out for 2.5hrs, but after half-term I'll have to leave him that long. Or actually I'll be able to take him out by then grin

wildfig Thu 15-Oct-09 15:44:42

I leave the puppy in his crate with a Kong and the TV on for an hour or so while I walk our older dog (is good for him to get used to being on his own). I've left the pair of them for nearly two hours, but dashed back - only to find them both napping happily. It's best to work up to it slowly though; don't force him into it and shut the door straight away - throw in treats and let him get in and out, so he associates it with positive things, not being shut away from family life, then close the door for a few moments, etc.

amazonian mini schnauzers are so gorgeous!

pyjamalama Thu 15-Oct-09 15:54:50

I agree with everyone about the paper confusing him, and about crate training.

When you take him out for a wee, do you take him on a lead, or just let him run out? When we were house training our dog I always took him out on a lead and he stayed on it until he had done a wee, then lots of praise and off the lead for a while, then back on the lead to come in, and more praise.

You may just have to get up in the night. I got up half an hour later every night - so started by getting up at 3am to take him out, then 3.30am and so on until we reached a reasonable hour and he was dry all night - it only took a few days (although DH did make me go and sleep in the spare room during this process and said it was worse than having a baby!).

I wouldn't leave him for 2 hours yet - do what wildfig says.

He sounds lovely and this bit doesn't last forever!

Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 16:11:27

ok- we go to bed roughly around 10pm at night as dp has to be up early at 6- baby wakes then too so we are all up and about.

on that kind of schedule, what time would you set an alarm for to get up in the night?



Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 16:13:43

Oh and if i blocked off a part of the porch so that it was big enough just to stand up, turn around etc, do you think that would be ok to act as a crate? I know its not transportable but it is a resource we are lucky enough to have.


minimu Thu 15-Oct-09 16:21:06

You have a beautiful intelligent dog in a GSD love them to bits! Very envy.

As the others have said dogs love their crates. It is their own personal space. They are very unlikely to soil them. So at night put them in the crate with a cosy blanket and water and they should go through the night at 11 weeks. You may need an early start 6.00ish.

Do remove the paper indoors it does just confuse the dog and will take longer to train them. Take them out every hour praise like mad when they wee etc. Does seem a bore but most dogs get it in a couple of days and are brilliant at it by the end of a week. You will obviously have to keep an eye out for them for a while but keep taking them out regularly.

If you chose not to have a crate keep the porch door shut at night so he can not get into the kitchen and he will be less likely to soil in the night - not as good as the crate but may work.

I leave dogs in their crate for a few hours and when they are bigger if they have had a long walk and their meal they will probably be ok for 3 hours ish. Never any longer. They will require a run of attention when you get back.

When they are little and you can not exercise them so well a good training session ( a few minutes) with a clicker will tire them out without hurting their limbs.

The cage needs to be high enough for them to sit up staight and long enough for them to lie down flat. It will be quite large for a gsd but they do love them.

11-12 weeks is the gangly stage as most large dogs tend to get a bit leggy - they have tended to lose that lovely puppy fat and are turning into taller grown up dogs!!
Again this swagger is quite common tends to be the weight of that great big tail. If you see any lameness I would be more concerned.

Do enjoy your lovely pup he will be a great companion for years to come after a bit of hard work now.

minimu Thu 15-Oct-09 16:23:14

sorry crossed post. I wouldn't get up in the night yet try him with blocking off part of the porch. 10.30-6.00 should be fine let him out before you do anything else eg shower or stuff and see if he can deal with it. Let us know what happens. (I am lazy and have never got up in the night to my pups!)

spugs Thu 15-Oct-09 16:40:08

Im having a hard time house breaking my 4 month old pup. Crate training doesnt work as she pees in her bed. Shes got a bed in the kitchen and she pees in there rather then get up and do it on the floor!!!! She has free acsess outside through a doggy door and I take her outside regularly and reward her (weve just spent an hour sat in the rain!!!) But she still doesnt have a clue! I trained my other dog this way and he was clean by 4 months.

11 weeks is still very young so I wouldnt worry, it sounds like your doing everything properly grin

Clareandjaya Thu 15-Oct-09 16:58:35


thank you. I will give it a go tonight. I think people think we are mad for doing this with a 10 month old, but to be honest, she is so enraptured by him it makes it worthwhile...grin

She comes out into the garden with me in her sling waiting for him to go...I bet her first words will be "get busy".

It is hard work, but financially, time-wise and finding the right puppy-wise, it made sense to do it now.

Anyone else had puppy and baby at the same time?

LittleRedCar Thu 15-Oct-09 19:01:39

Spugs - have you seen your vet? Usually a dog will do just about anything to avoid peeing in its bed. Might be a good idea to rule out any medical reasons.

Clare - no, haven't done puppies and babies together. It does get easier - well, the pup anyway wink I think a crate is essential in your situation.

Good luck wink

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