What happens when you have a setback while house training your puppy? As always, I turned to my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker, to help a reader out!
Q: I’ve had a miniature poodle puppy since he was 9 weeks old. He is now almost 14 weeks old. Because it was so cold when I first got him, I started to pad-train him instead of taking him outdoors, where he will eventually be expected to go. I thought we were making great progress — only three to four accidents. Then I brought him to a groomer for a puppy cut to get him used to combing and brushing and grooming. They gave him a full poodle clip instead, and ever since, he has almost totally ignored the training pad, piddling all over the floor and rugs in the area where he is kept. Do I have to start all over again?
A: Your puppy is still too young to be fully housetrained, even though he was doing well previously. It’s certainly possible that the experience at the groomer could have set him back. You are right to think of starting over with him; moving back to a stage where the dog was previously successful is always a good idea in any kind of training if you run into a roadblock.
For housetraining, take him out on a schedule. Don’t let him have the run of the house; he’s too young for that. If you can’t actively supervise him, he should be in his crate or a small dog-proofed area such as a bathroom, laundry room or inside a pen on an easy-clean surface. Put down a potty pad in that area so he has an acceptable option for pottying if he has to go. Take him out to potty (don’t just send him out by himself), and give big praise and food rewards when he goes in the right place.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.