Everyone asks what the best method is to house train a puppy. I have found the dachshund to be one of the most challenging breeds to accomplish this due to their strong-willed personality. Whatever method you choose, Diligence in monitoring behavior, and using Consistency in the method used for accidents, is a must for success.
We like the crate method. It may appear to be cruel, but is really not. Most puppies rarely soil their crate – even over night. Crate size should be just large enough for them to stand up and turn around comfortably. If too large, they consider it just another room in the house. Start the process by locking them in the crate and covering it with a blanket. When taking them outside for a potty break, use the same words to help them learn what is expected. Keep it short and simple like, “go potty”. Let them out into a fenced yard, on a leash, or put them in an exercise pen first thing in the morning, after meals, before your bedtime, and anytime they cry or bark in between. The whining often indicates a need to go potty. If the crying proves to be just attention seeking behavior, (there’s no results outside) return the puppy to the crate. They will most likely start to whine again. Cover the crate and wait until they’re quiet again. When settled and quiet, you can take the puppy out of the crate for some play time. If you bring them in after they didn’t potty, and let them loose in the house they will connect barking with just a way to get out of the crate (which leads to a long, frustrating, and noisy process). Things usually time out to about every 2 hours during the day with very young puppies. Our pups often sleep through the night without an accident. During daylight, try not to keep them locked up more than four hours during those early days. Bladder capacity will grow with the rest of the puppy. The diligence comes in when it’s play time and they’re loose and running around in the house. They should not be left out of your sight. When you catch them “in the act” firm, (loud) verbal discipline should be used. (No spanking, shaking, or rubbing their nose in it. This only scares them.) Puppies love to please. You’ll see it in their eyes that they are terribly upset they did something wrong and you are no longer happy. Pick them up and place them on grass immediately – or a puppy pad if the outside is not practical. If you find a mess, the window of opportunity is lost. Just clean it up and move on. They can’t connect the deed with your displeasure, and this will only cause confusion.
Newspaper/Puppy Pads All our puppies live in a large puppy playpen from the day of birth. The pen floor is lined with newspaper, plus a blanket. They all start using the paper as early as two weeks. Puppy pads are nice because of the plastic backing, but very expensive. By the time they are 5-6 weeks puppies begin to tear up the pads and will actually ingest them, so we stick with newspaper only.
The Door Bell is another method. A bell is hung on the door and the puppy rings this when they want out. One of the recent puppy buyers claims success after just 2 days of training with this method. I tried this with Cinder when she was too young to use the dog door just to see if it would work. I took her on a leach to the sleigh bells, said “go potty”, and brought her nose close to the bells. Her reaction was to move her head, thus ringing the bells. I’d give a treat and walk her outside to the X-pen, repeating “go potty” and rewarding her for positive results. She did get onto ringing the bells for a treat, but soon learned to use the dog door by following the other dogs outside. All those days and I didn’t realize that Grayson was watching the training process and taking great interest in those bells. Whenever we would come in or go out Grayson would try to rush the door and escape. Then I started hearing the bells ring with no one coming or going. It was Grayson telling me that he wanted to go outside for a run.
Dog Doors are wonderful if you have an enclosed area. Just lock them outside whenever you take them out of the crate or they will run back in without accomplishing anything. The problem with this method is that it’s difficult to monitor what they did (or didn’t do) so you can give a treat for a job well done.
Exercise Pens are nice if you want to put the puppy outside without walking them around on a leash. Walk the puppy outside to the X-pen. Pace the puppy in the pen and watch carefully. When they are successful immediately give a treat, then leave them in there a little longer to make sure they exhausted all possibilities. If not, they get a 2nd treat for the 2nd job. If they seem to be enjoying themselves in the great outdoors feel free to let them out there a little longer as an added reward.
On warm days they can run around the enclosed area and enjoy the day in total safety. Size of pen for a dachshund should be 24 inches high and 8-10 panels. You can always buy 2 and connect them together for a larger play area. Check the area carefully before setting up the pen. They will chew on anything they find, which can include harmful plants and flowers, sticks from the wrong bush or tree, and sharp metal or plastics hiding in the grass. They can also swallow small stones. Even certain weeds and mushrooms can be highly toxic and even fatal. See site http://www.cybercanine.com/toxicplants.htm for a more comprehensive list. Place the pen in a shaded area and give them a water bowl and a toy or two - Instant Happy Puppy. Do check on them frequently though because they can easily get out. Dachshunds are born diggers. Place them on grass in an enclosed area and the first thing they do is check out the perimeter and DIG HOLES. Scolding for this behavior is useless. The word dachs means “badger”. The word hund means “dog”. So the word Dachshund is interpreted to mean “badger dog”. They were originally bred to go down holes and seek out vermin. If no holes – they will make their own. Bottom line is to allow no access to anything but pure grass and check on them frequently.
Combining Methods can also be useful. Place the crate in an area with a bare floor and put an exercise pen around it. Put a Puppy Pad at farthermost spot from the crate. Place food, water and a toy or two next to it. Open the crate door and observe very closely. When the puppy starts to sniff around, place them on the pad and say something like “go potty”. Reward with a treat when successful. Next, take them out of the X-pen, place a puppy pad next to the door, and when the sniffing behavior begins, place them on the pad while saying the same words. Give a treat when successful. When the pad at the door is being used successfully you can then move onto the final step. When seen going to the pad, immediately pick up the pup and put them outside. You can even put a pad on the grass in an enclosed area, saying those same words.
Whatever method you use, when successful it becomes the 4th of July. Praise lavishly and give that treat!