My 16-week-old Westie girl, Molly, has been paper trained since she came home at 8 weeks old. Well actually, she's trained to go on a puppy pad. She seems to finally get it, despite some accidents every now and then. We live in an apartment, so there's no yard for her to go potty. Her pad is in the washroom, and she knows that this is where she has to go. I take her to her pad every morning when she wakes up, after naps, after play, and sometimes in between if I see that she's sniffing around; a lot of times she goes by herself. My concerns/questions are 1: Other than the times I mentioned, which are somewhat regular, she really isn't on a schedule when it comes to pee and poop. Am I interfering with her learning to "hold it" by having the puppy pad available to her at all times? (although she does seem to pee less frequently as she gets older) and 2:at some point, when she is fully vaccinated, I will probably start training her to go outside, but I'm not sure how to make this transition. Should I allow her to go indoors once we start training to potty outdoors? I imagine there would have to be a transition where she does both. And one last question: is it possible to train her to go mainly outside, but keep a pad indoors, for accidents or emergencies? I have read that this could confuse a dog, is that true? Like I said, I live in an apartment, and I live by myself, so I'm the only one that could come home and take her outside. We also live in a very cold climate for aproximately 6 months of the year, all of which makes me wonder if it would be possible to train her to go outside, but in extreme cases, have a pad indoors that she can use. Any comments or help would be much appreciated! Cheers.
The problem with pee pads is that sometimes dogs get them confused with rugs and mats. There are dogs out there that seem to just fine peeing outside and on pads, but some do not. If everything is going well then stick with it. I myself do not like pee pads because I have rugs. It can be confuseing for the dog also because they are peeing inside the house and sometimes start to pee in other places in an emergency. Once they start, habits form quickly. Liveing in an apartment is very difficult with a dog let alone a puppy, so if its working for you, keep the schedule. The bladder does hold longer as the puppy ages, but some bladder control is needed sometimes when your housetraining, which is hard when there is a pee pad available. I think you should aim for outdoor washroom duties as much as possible. There is no reason you can't be on a schedule for walks and feedings as well. Start a regular routine of afternoon and evening long walks, and keep a Morning and Mid morning pee on the pads. Reward always for the good behaviors that you see, like peeing outside and on pee pads. It also may help to always keep the pad in the washroom. After her Second Puppy Vaccination she can go outside, I wouldn't take her to major leash free zones or anything like that, but she should be working on basic obediance and socializeing with other friendly puppies and strangers and be well into it by now.
When I look up into the sky, I think to myself, Wheres the ceiling?
I didnt like the pee pads either, and never used them. Taking them out when they wake up is good also about 15 to 30 mins after they have anything to eat or drink. And I wouldnt keep water and food avaiable at all times to them until they get trained. This is what are trainer told us to do.
The fact you live in a cold climate really doesn't matter a whole lot. I live in Central Ontario Canada myself. Snowbelt area. I have successfully housebroken three small dogs (20,10 and 8 lbs) Personally they LOVE the snow! As for walking them in the snow, it's not the cold as much as the salt that bothers their feet. If the sidewalks have been salted particularly heavy they all wear Neopaws (best dog boots on the market, and Canadian made I might add!) All three were initially pee pad trained and worked their way to outside training without incident. Logically if they empty their bladder and bowel outside...why would they have to go again in the house? I found that once I starting taking them outside on a regular basis they just stopped using the pee pad. By the time they were all about 7-8 months old they just stopped using the pee pad all together. I left it out for a few more months then just stopped putting one out. No accidents. Don't do the "move the pad closer to the outside door" thing. I think that's where people run into trouble. If you are going to use a pad, keep it in one spot and don't move it. I think moving the pad gives them the idea that anything pad shaped is a free for all! My 70 yr old parents live even further north than we do. They have a small Minpin x chihuahua and have always used papers for her. It is only when she has loose stool (irritable bowel disease) that she uses them. The rest of the time she barks to be let outside. It's a god sent for them that they don't have to get up several times a night to take her out for a walk when she has a flare-up. Especially when it's -30C at 3 in the morning. She is almost 7 yrs old now and has never had an accident elsewhere in the house. I think it's all personal choice whether you use them or not.
I think the best way to train a pup to transition, is to teach them to potty on command, whether on the pad or outside. That way, it will be easier to a.) get her to go outside in the first place and b.) not take so long to go on the cold days . I have heard doing both can be confusing, but once they learn a verbal command, it will help with that I would think. I haven't paper trained, but both of my dogs will 'squat' at the 'go potty' command whether they need to or not. If for an odd reason I slip and say it in the house, they know better, but it gets their attention, I think if I pushed it I could get them to go on a pad in the house on command =). Also it helps with going in strange places, or in weird textures like gravel. By winter, she should be old enough to hold it for 6-8 hours, so an emergency pad may not be needed if you are taking her out last thing before leaving, first thing when getting back. I would start taking her out now while it is warm, and maybe taking a pad with you. Pick a spot you want her to go, put the pad there, wait for her to go. As she does, use your cue word "go potty" or whatever, then praise and treat when she finishes. Start telling her the command before she goes as she gets the idea. Even in the house on the pad, use the command and treat. Start fading the pad outside once she gets the command as well, then start picking up the pad in the house while you are at home and rely totally on going outside. Last step is leaving her in the house for short periods without pads, then no pads at all. I would start while she is young so she gets the idea, some dogs will have a harder time realizing they should not go in the house ever if they were paper trained initially. Good luck with your pup!
Thanks for all the tips and advice! She is somewhat trained to go on command... works about 75% of the time, but I think the suggestion makes a lot of sense, so we'll keep working on that until it's 100%. Molly just had her 4-month vaccines two days ago, so now I feel more confident taking her out (previously we had only gone on two or three walks outside). I will take her out daily now, and reinforce the potty routine outdoors. I hope we can eventually phase out the puppy pads indoors. Right now, her pee pad is always in the same corner of the washroom, so we'll leave it there- thanks for the tip on not taking the pad to the door. I had read about this, but couldn't figure out how we were going to do that, because in an apartment, the door isn't really the door to OUTSIDE... there's still a corridor, an elevator ride, and a lobby to go through. Regarding the cold weather... I guess we'll both get thick jackets to venture out there in January! :) btw, figures, it would be a fellow Canadian who would come up with good snow booties ;) The main reason why I'm interested in teaching her to potty outside as soon as possible is that she has been eating her poop, but only when I'm not home. She shows no interest in it when I'm around, and obviously I pick it up as soon as I can, so she has no access to it. But during the day when I'm not home, she eats it, and it's driving me crazy. So I hope by getting her into an outdoor potty routine, it will eliminate this problem. She's so cute, but the poopy-eating is just so gross... cute face with stinky breath! Both the vet and her breeder are at a loss on this one, so we haven't been able to shake the bad habit. We've tried For-bid, Deter, and they haven't worked. From what I've read the next thing I can try is pineapple, pumpkin puree, and meat tenderizer... so I guess there's still some hope!
My dog is 5 and a half months and I used to do the pee pad during the day. I agree completely that the verbal command is necessary (in combination with a treat). At about 4 months he decided he wanted to go outside to go to get a treat. He didn't get the treats for going on the pad- I didn't do this on purpose it just happened like that. The pads were just empty everyday so I stopped using them. I also had to live without throw rugs for a few months- now that he's got the idea I can now have a dry bathroom after I take a shower (the rugs are back!) I am hoping this winter he will just go faster if he's cold!