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Question
Hello, I sure hope you can help us.  We have  a Dobi-Lab mix.  Rosie is now 8 months old and we've still not been able to house-break her.  She will ring a bell to go out, but all she does out there is chase bugs, butterflies and lizards.  Then, she'll come inside and do whatever on the puppy pad.

We let her out any time she rings the bell; in hopes that she will finally learn that OUTSIDE is where she is supposed to go.

When she does finally do her business outside, we always praise her and give her treats.  She knows we aren't happy when she goes in the house because she will drop her head and look at us as though embarrassed.

We believe she just thinks the puppy pads are where she is supposed to go.  We, however, know if we take up the puppy pad we're going to have ruined carpets.  So - we don't know what to do.

What can we do to help her make the connection that she is supposed to go potty outside?

Oh, yes, we can't pin her down to a schedule.  She will go outside in the early morning.  But, she is unpredictable during the rest of the day.

If you can help Rosie and me, we will appreciate it so much.

Regards,
Janet

Answer
Hello Janet:

A major problem with using Puppy Pads, is that it will make going Potty outside more of a challenge.

I only ever suggest Potty Pads if we are leaving a puppy home alone for long periods, beyond which they can be expected to hold it.
The general Rule of Thumb being for each month of age we can expect them to hold it 1 hour.  That does exclude, waking from a nap, eating, drinking and playtime.

A Crate is the best method and below you will find how to use it.

A lot of dog owners feel that crate training puppies is cruel. This thinking is wrong and it prevents them from taking advantage of the best house training tool - a crate.
If you can avoid some common crate training mistakes, your puppy will enjoy the time he spends in his crate.
You see, just like wolves, dogs are den animals. A crate provides them with the same sense of security that a den would have provided them in the wild.
The tricky part about crate training puppies lies in the fact that unless you use a crate correctly, you will not achieve the desired result.
What follows are some tips and suggestions you can use right away. Further down, there is a page where I talk more about crate training your puppy.
So, without wasting any more time, let's review some...
•   The first step in crate training puppies is to decide where to place the crate. Because puppies are social animals, it's best to keep the crate in an area where your family spends a lot of time, but avoid placing it next to air vents or in direct sunlight.
•   Put a soft blanket inside the crate. To make your puppy feel more secure, put the crate next to a wall and cover the sides with a towel. Or get a Crate wear Pet Dreams 3-Piece Complete Crate Bed Set that includes a mattress, padded bumpers and a crate cover.
•   Though buckle collars are generally safe, it's not a good idea to use them when crate training puppies. Why? Because even a flat collar can get stuck between metal bars and injure your puppy.
•   The best time for crate training is when your puppy is hungry, bored, or... both.
•   Never force your pet to enter the crate. If he needs some encouragement, put some of his favourite toys or food inside the crate (from my experience, food works better than toys).

Initially, leave them near the door and leave the crate door open. As your pet becomes more comfortable, you may move the toys further inside his crate.
•   If the above doesn't work, try another approach...

Some puppies get anxious when encouraged to enter the crate but will venture inside on their own if there is an incentive.
•   One of the most difficult parts of crate training puppies is locking your pet in his crate for the first (and second, and third, and... times). Here is a trick I learned a long time ago.

With my dog inside the crate and eating, I lock the door, but only for the duration of his meal. Even if he notices that I locked the door, most likely, he will be too busy eating to express his displeasure. As soon as he finishes eating, I open the door. As you repeat this exercise, keep the door locked a little longer each time.
•   Always praise your puppy for doing things right. Did he just enter his crate for the first time? Or maybe he didn't cry when you locked the door? I am sure you'll agree these milestones deserve some praise and a treat or two!
•   Don't try to accomplish too much too soon. As you begin crate training your puppy, keep the sessions short and gradually increase the training time when your puppy is ready.
•   A crate is the most valuable tool for training puppies. But to get the most benefits out of crate training, your puppy can't associate his crate with anything negative. So, never use it for punishment.
Housebreaking your new puppy is going to take patience. You should begin to housebreak as soon as you bring your new puppy home. Puppies need to relieve themselves approximately six times a day. A puppy should be taken out immediately after each meal since a full stomach puts pressure on the colon and bladder.
A puppy is not physically able to control the muscle that allows him to "hold it" until he is about 12 weeks of age. Before this time, good housebreaking routines should be practiced to avoid having your puppy urinate and defecate all over your house. Watch for signs of urination or defecation, such as turning in circles. Take your puppy out often. Using a crate or confining your puppy to a small part of the house that has easy clean up floors are some ways to ensure your puppy does not urinate all over your house. It is much harder to housebreak a puppy if he smells is urine in places you do not wish him to relief himself.
There are many different methods in which you can housebreak your pet, however I find Crate training the most effective. Whichever way you choose, it is important to understand your puppy. Dogs want to please; the trick is to make them understand what it is you want from them.
Dogs do not think the way humans do. When you are unhappy with your dog, it assumes that whatever it is doing at the exact moment you show disapproval - is the thing that is upsetting you.
For example:
If your puppy relieves himself on your floor and you show your disapproval five minutes after he has committed the act, the puppy will think that the mess on the floor is bad. He will not relate to the fact that it was the act of relieving himself on your floor that you disapprove of. The dog will eliminate, see the mess and get worried; you are now going to be unhappy. This is the reason so many dogs will relieve themselves in inappropriate places and look really guilty about it, yet they continue to do it. Dogs want to please, right?
Some owners start to think that their dog is being sneaky when really it does not fully understand what it is doing wrong. It knows the mess upsets you but does not understand that it should stop "making" the mess. To your dog, these two things: "the mess" and "the act" are unrelated.
The trick is to catch your dog in the act and make him understand. You do not need to hit your dog. The tone of your voice is enough to make the dog see you are unhappy.
A firm "Eh! Or other correction sound.  You are not allowed to go in the house. “Eh!” or other correction sound is all that is needed.
Immediately take your dog outside to the appropriate place. Wait for your dog to go again and when and if he does, praise him. Important: Always praise your dog after he eliminates in the appropriate place.
Crate Training Caution:
Before you crate train, please be aware: a dog that is left in a crate all day long, gets let out in the evening after work for a few hours and put back in the crate for the night can become neurotic, destructive, unhappy and noisy.
If you work all day, it is recommended that you find someone who can take your dog out for a long walk in the afternoon. If this is not possible only use the crate at night.
If you must leave your dog all day long every day and you have nobody to let the dog out during the day, you should find a room without a rug, put down Pooch Pads Reusable Housebreaking Pads, food, water and toys.
You should set up the room so that the bed and food are at one end and the pee pads at the other. Spread the toys in the center of the room. Dogs are not fish. They need to find something to occupy their mind, so give your dog plenty of toys. It is said that dogs are den animals and like the crate, but even a den animal would go crazy if it was lock up all day long.
You must be willing to invest time and energy for just a few short weeks in housetraining. The effort you put in now will last for the rest of your pet's life.
The crate training method is as follows. Buy a crate and for the first 3 to 4 weeks keep your puppy in it when you are not with him. Make sure the crate is not too big. It should be large enough for the puppy's bed, but no larger. Dogs do not want to soil their bed and the use of a crate teaches them to control their urge to eliminate.
You must maintain an eagle eye at all times. As soon as you see him pacing, sniffing around, and turning in circles, immediately take him outside. He is telling you "I am going to go pee pee somewhere, and this carpet looks like as good a place as any." NO, you do not have time to put on your shoes, just go.
Be patient and do not rush the little guy. He may have to go several times in one "pit stop." Give him about 10 minutes before taking him back inside. Do not play with him while you are on this mission. Let him know this is a business trip.
Make sure you take him out after every meal and play session BEFORE you put him back in his crate. Be consistent and establish a schedule. Pay attention to your puppy's behaviour so you can develop a schedule that works for you and the pup. When does your puppy naturally defecate? In the morning? 10 minutes after eating? Around bedtime? You may have to make some compromises.
Be fair to your puppy. He cannot be expected to stay alone in his crate for endless hours and not relieve himself. During your work days, you will need to have someone go to your home at least once (lunch time is good) to let the puppy out. Take him for a long walk. Your dog is not a fish and he needs something to occupy his mind.
Make sure everyone who is involved in the housebreaking process is using the same spot in the yard and the same word. Everyone should agree on the place they will take the puppy. The odour from the previous visits will cause the puppy to want to go in that spot.
Use a simple word like "Potty/Weewees" when taking your puppy to the chosen spot. Use this word consistently and later this word will help build communication between the family and the dog. When you notice him going toward the door and you say "Potty" he can say "Yup, that’s where I need to go," or, "Forget it. I am getting back up on the couch for some shut eye."
Until your puppy is about 5 months old you will need to take him out frequently and keep that eagle eye on him. But before you know it, you are going to be able to trust and communicate with your new pet. And he will learn that when he pleases you by going out to do his business, he gets more freedom in the house.  

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