Housetraining Cockapoo Puppies

Baby puppies, under three months of age, have limited bladder control and reflexes. They usually don't know they're going to “go” until the moment they do! It's not realistic to expect them to tell you ahead of time. If you're observant, you'll see that a puppy who's looking for a place to go potty will suddenly circle or walk back/forth while sniffing the floor. The sniffing is instinct — he's looking for a place that's already been used. If he can't find one, he'll start one! By preventing accidents in the house, you'll teach him that the only appropriate bathroom is the one outside!

Ideally, you're reading this before you've brought your new puppy home. If you already have your puppy, just pick up the schedule at an appropriate place.

Set up a dog crate. This is the best way to housetrain your puppy.....a crate.   Using a dog crate will be more effective. The size of the crate is important — if it's too large, the puppy will have room to use one end as a bathroom and sleep/play in the other end. You want to make the puppy side just large enough to stand up and turn around. If you've bought a crate for him to “grow into,” you can also get dividers to reduce the inner space while he's small. 

In the crate consider using your old t-shirts or t-towels. If the puppy does mess these items are old and can be thrown out. 

Your puppy might not like the crate at first. Don't give in to his complaining or tantrums! If you're sure he isn't hungry or has to go potty, ignore his yowling. This is why it may be best to put the crate in a laundry room. Do not put the crate in the garage or basement totally away from family and noise.

The crate is intended to be his sleeping and feeding place and is where he should be when you can't keep a close eye on him. If you give him the run of the house at this age, you can expect accidents! Dogs instinctively keep their sleeping areas clean. If you've allowed him to go potty when he needs to, he won't dirty his crate if he can help it.

Puppy's First Few Days & Nights Home

Get off on the right foot at the beginning! Carry the puppy from your car to the yard. Set him on the grass and let him stay there until he goes potty. When he does, tell him how wonderful he is!  Housetraining is all about PRAISE!! Puppies LOVE praise!  After bringing the pup inside, you can play with him as long as you can keep an eye on him.  The FIRST rule is if you cannot, FOR ANY REASON, keep your eyes on your Cockapoo puppy take that few seconds and put him in his crate.  This will mean no accidents in the house. Each time you take him out of the crate go outside to potty.  Be sure as you walk outside to tell the puppy what is happening....Let's got outside to potty!  When outside tell him...we are outside so you can potty!  When go goes potty tell him...good boy! you pottied outside!  This way your puppy associates the deed and the place!

Plan on taking the puppy outside every two hours (at least) while he's awake. Don't wait for him to tell you that he has to go!

Feed the puppy his breakfast/dinner in his crate. Don't let him out for half an hour and when you do, carry him outside to potty before you do anything else. Wait for him to have a bowel movement before bringing him back in. Some puppies get their jobs done quickly, others may take half an hour. Be sure you tell him what to do....eat your dinner.  You must give a command each time you want the puppy to do something. He is looking to you for guidance. Water is never allowed in the crate!  Water is only offered outside the crate.

While outside, if he's being slow, walk around the yard encouraging him to follow you and tell him what to do. Walking tends to get things moving, so to speak!

If your puppy is too busy exploring the yard to focus put the collar/leash on him and stand in one place telling him what to do.

Always take the puppy outside first thing when you let him out of the crate and always CARRY the puppy to the door!! This is important. Puppies seem to have a reflex peeing action that takes affect the moment they step out of the crate onto your carpeting. If you let him walk to the door, he'll probably have an accident before he gets there. Part of this training method is psychological — you want the puppy to feel grass under his feet when he goes to the bathroom, not your carpeting!

After the dinner meal keep your Cockapoo puppy awake until you go to bed. This way the puppy will be awake for a few hours and ready to sleep when you put him in there for the night.  Pick up the water bowl around 7:00/7:30 pm.  This way when you take your puppy out to potty for the final time he will potty but not much if anything since he has not drank or eaten in a few hours.  Put the puppy in the crate, lights out, tell him to "go to sleep" and walk away.  If he yowls, let him and ignore it. He will fall asleep quickly.  If he does wake you up in 2 or 3 hours then you will have to take him outside to the potty spot, let him potty, then back to the crate for the rest of the night.  If he yowls that is fine. You know he's ok.

Daytime schedule

Establish a regular schedule of potty trips and feedings. This helps you to control the times he has to go out and prevent accidents in the house. First thing in the morning — before you have your coffee — carry the puppy outside. He can then come in and play as long as you can keep an eye on him at all times. Feed breakfast in the crate and don't let him out again for a half hour. Then carry him back outside for potty. Puppies usually have a bowel movement after each meal so give him time to accomplish it.

Now he can have another inside playtime as long as you can keep your eyes on him. Remember if for any reason you cannot watch him, take those few seconds to put him in the crate.  Don't give him free run of the house, use baby gates or close doors to keep him out of rooms he shouldn't go in. (Puppies are notorious for finding out of the way corners to have accidents in — keep him in an area where you can watch him). If you give him too much freedom too soon, he'll probably make a mistake. After playtime, take him outside again then tuck him into his crate for a nap.

I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is! The results of all this runnin' in and out will pay off in a well-housebroken puppy and clean carpets. Keep in mind that some breeds are easier to housetrain than others and how the puppy was raised before it came to you has an affect, too. Pet store puppies who were allowed to use wire-bottom crates have less inclination to keep their crates clean. Puppies that were raised in garages or other large areas where they could “go” wherever will also be a little more difficult. Don't give up though - you can train them, it will just take a little longer.

Keep your dog's yard picked up and free of old stools. Picking up stools helps you keep tabs on your dog's health as well. Stools should be firm and fairly dry. Loose, sloppy stools can be an indication of worms, health problems, stress or digestive upset.

What to do if the Puppy has an Accident

Remember, this method of housetraining is based on PREVENTING accidents. By faithfully taking the dog out often enough, you'll get faster results than if you discipline the puppy after the accident has already happened. If you puppy makes a mistake because you didn't get him out when you should have — it's not his fault!

If you catch the pup in the act, stay calm. Holler NO to get his attention while you scoop the puppy up immediately - don't wait for him to stop piddling - and carry him outside to an area he's used before. As you are walking outside tell him! NO...we potty outside!  Be firm and be upset.  As you set him on the ground, tell him “THIS IS WHERE YOU GO POTTY..OUTSIDE!” and praise him as he finishes the job telliing him...good boy!!! potty outside!!!. Leave him out a few more minutes to make sure he's done before bringing him back in. Some puppies do take more than one squat or poop to fully eliminate so be sure to give the puppy ample time to completely empty the bowel/bladder.

ANY other corrections such as rubbing his nose in it, smacking with newspapers, yelling, beating or slapping only confuse and scare the dog. If you come across an “old” accident, it really doesn't pay to get too excited about it. Dogs aren't smart enough to connect a past act with your present anger and he won't understand what you're so mad about. He'll act guilty but it's only because he knows you're mad at him. He has no real idea why.

Keep in mind that health problems, changes in diet and emotional upsets (moving to a new home, adding a new pet or family member, etc.) can cause temporary lapses in housetraining. Diabetes in adult dogs and urinary tract infections in both puppies and adults can cause dogs to have to urinate more often. Urinary infections in young female puppies are common. A symptom is frequent squatting with little urine release. If you suspect a physical problem, please take your dog for an examination.

Sudden changes in dog food brands or overindulgence in treats or table scraps can cause diarrhea. Dogs don't need much variety in their diets so you're not harming yours by staying to one brand of food. If you make a change, do it gradually by mixing a little of the new food with the old, gradually increasing the amount of new food every day. A sudden change of water can cause digestive upset, too. If you're moving or traveling, take along a couple gallons of “home” water to mix with the new. Distilled water from the grocery store can also be used.

Cleaning Up Accidents

If you've worked hard with this training method, you won't have many! Put your puppy (or adult dog) away out of sight while you clean up a puddle. Dog mothers clean up after their babies but you don't want your puppy to think that YOU do, too! Clean up on linoleum is self-explanatory. On carpeting, get lots of paper towel and continue blotting with fresh paper until you've lifted as much liquid as possible.

There are several home-made and commercially available “odor killers” that are helpful. In a pinch, plain white vinegar will work to help neutralize the odor and the ammonia in the urine. (Don't use a cleaner with ammonia - it'll make it worse!) Sprinkle baking soda on the spot to soak up moisture and to help neutralize odor, vacuum when dry. At the pet store, you can find a good selection of products that may be more effective. A diarrhea stain on carpeting or upholstery can be lifted with a gentle solution of lukewarm water, dishwashing soap and white vinegar.

Puppies are attracted to urine odors and their noses are much better than ours! Even when using a commercial odor killer, a teeny residue will be left behind that our dogs can smell. Keep an eye on that spot in the future!

Advice for Male Dog Owners

Your male puppy will begin to lift his leg between four and nine months of age, a sign of the activation of his sexual drive and instinct to “mark” territory. This is a perfect age to neuter your dog and avoid the unwanted behaviors that accompany sexual maturity — marking in inappropriate places, fighting and aggression toward other male dogs. Intact (un-neutered) males will mark any upright object and are especially hard on your shrubbery and trees. Some males will also mark inside the house, particularly if another dog comes to visit or if you're visiting in someone else's home. If you use your male for breeding, you can expect this behavior to get worse. Neutering your dog will protect his health, help him to live longer and be a better pet along with improving his house manners!  I advise having your male puppy neutered as young as your veterinarian will allow.