House Training a Dog: Some Tips from Our Experience with Nix

One of the things that worried me when Nix came home was how we were going to housetrain (or potty train) her. We have no garden, only small terraces, and they are located in parts of the house which were difficult to give her access to during the day and at night. I had no idea how we were going to manage or how long it was going to take.

Puppy Nix
Nix’s first day at home. She was 4.5 months at the time.

What we ended up doing was a combination of what we knew, plus common sense, applied and adapted to the situation. Here is a summary of what we did:

  • We fed Nix at approximately the same time each day.
  • We took her out on walks every four hours approximately (except at night, of course). This included a walk first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. During the day I adjusted the schedule according to the times she had relieved herself the previous days.
  • Whenever we noticed her doing something we thought it meant she wanted to pee, we tried to distract her and get ready to go outside.
  • We tried to used training pads, but we had to adapt their use to our situation (see below for more details)

    Training Pad
    A clean training pad.
  • To  clean the floor and get rid of the nasty smells, we mixed water with bleach. This disinfected the floor and also covered up the smell better than other cleaning products.
  • Say nothing if you see your dog relieving himself or herself inside at this stage. The final mess will probably be harder to clean and in the end you won’t have done any favours to you or your dog. This is the voice of experience talking. Don’t ask.

Please note that we got Nix in August, when I had no meetings and could work from home. This is why I was able to control Nix’s bathroom schedule so much, and I believe that this really helped. I think it’s better to be home with your dog while you’re housetraining them. When they already relieve themselves outside, it’s going to be much easier to avoid accidents at home while you’re away.

The First Day at Home

On Nix’s first day at home, she was able to hold her bladder for 14 hours straight. This means that she spent the most of the afternoon and the whole of her first night at home without relieving herself. I had no idea she would be capable of such a feat, so I’m sharing this in case your puppy does the same. From that point onwards she did her business more or less regularly.

Avoiding Upset Stomachs

We were pretty lucky because Nix’s breeder gave us a lot of information and recommended the food we should give her. Although we have now changed it, by following his advice we managed to avoid diarrhoea (or worse) on her first days home.  I do think her stool was a bit loose, but with all the changes in her life (new town and completely different living environment), I believe it was the best case scenario.

So, to avoid potential problems, I think you should ask what the food the dog has been eating and make sure that you feed your dog the same for the first few days (and perhaps even weeks).

Our experience with the training pads
Training Pads Packet
These are the training pads we have. They are 60×60 cm and I felt they were a bit too small, but we put them to got use.

Training pads are the substitutes for newspapers paper: used to mark the spot where your dog should relieve himself or herself, and as they are pads they are supposed to absorb everything, unlike newspapers. I believe they come in different sizes; if you want to use them, be sure to get the right size for your dog (or I should say for your dog’s business).

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to use them for this purpose. If we left them on the floor, Nix would chew and destroy them. Therefore, we had to leave the floor without any kind of “protection” and clean everything from scratch.

However, in order to make the cleaning easier for us, we used the pads to absorb the pee once it was there. This meant that it was much faster to get everything fine again: add some water and bleach to a bucket and then get the mop soaked in this water to clean it. For the poo, we used the typical plastic bags for this purpose and then mopped.

And be warned: dog pee stinks. STINKS. I’m not kidding. If you use the training pads, do not throw them away in your ordinary bin. Keep it outdoors in a bin or inside a plastic bag that your dog or any other pet cannot reach. And get rid of this bag at least once every 24 hours.

How long does it take to get your dog trained?

I cannot generalize here, as I don’t have much experience. In the case of Nix, we were very lucky: we got Nix on a Tuesday afternoon, and on Friday she started doing her business outside. However, you have to bear in mind that she was already 4 and a half months old when she came home, and she is pretty smart. I think that the time it takes will mainly depend on your dog’s age, how much time you can spend trying to housetrain him or her, and also on your dog’s personality, to a certain degree.

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