One of the most important things you can teach your puppy right away is where and when to "go potty", "do its business", "make", "you know". Whatever we choose to call it a great deal of trouble, heartache, anger and frustration is wasted on doggy house soiling problems. You have a clean slate, a brand new puppy. Here are some pointers to help you teach your new family member proper house manners. Do not give puppy full run of the house. One room at a time is enough to start with. Remember a puppy does not view carpet as an expensive home furnishing. It is either a wonderful chew toy or a convenient toilet. Money has no importance to dogs except as a nice snack. Keep this thought in your mind at all times;
A PUPPY OUT OF SIGHT IS A PUPPY GETTING INTO TROUBLE!
Italian Greyhounds also need to be tethered to a responsible person. If no one is watching, puppy should be safely in a crate or attached to someone. IGs are inquisitive little bundles of incredible energy and speed. If you bend over to "catch it in the act" and take puppy outside, your puppy is more than likely going to take off running. By the time you catch your little monster there will be no connection between potty, carpet and outside. If you have a leash attached you can gently lead your puppy to the appropriate place and reward when it goes in the right place.
Before anyone starts worrying about cages and confinement please take a moment and think it over. A puppy in a crate is not chewing electrical cords or ripping up your sofa cushions. When puppy has peed on the carpet for the third time in half an hour and you have removed your hands from razor sharp jaws for the umpteenth time and dinner is late and the phone is ringing ... Puppy can go into the crate with some food and a chew toy and you can sit down with a glass of your favorite beverage and wonder why you wanted a dog in the first place. Seriously, the crate is a wonderful tool to use while you train your puppy. You would have some doubts about the parents of a human toddler who allowed the child unlimited access all over the house. Don't give your puppy the chance to get into trouble.
A crate is not meant to house your puppy all day every day. Think of a crate as a playpen or crib. Puppy can be safely contained for short periods and overnight when you cannot be watching every second. As a rule of thumb puppies can stay in a crate for as many hours as they are months old. Two months, two hours, and so on. There is an upper limit; a dog who is crated on a regular basis for more than four hours at a time is crated too much. This rule does not apply to overnight sleeping, but if your dog is going to spend all night and all day in a crate, perhaps you don't have time for a dog. Another factor is that without the opportunity to explore and learn the rules of the house, your puppy will never be housetrained.
Make the crate a comfortable and inviting place to be. Put toys and food in the crate and allow the puppy to investigate. Toss treats into the crate and let the puppy run in to get them. Once the puppy has gone in and out a few times, close the door of the crate. Your puppy will very likely whine and scratch to be let out. This doesn't really mean the puppy hates the crate, just that the puppy would rather be with you. Sit beside the crate for a while, praise the puppy when the whining stops or there is some interest shown in toys or treats. Do not let the puppy out of the crate until there has been quiet for at least thirty seconds. If you open the door while the puppy is making a fuss you teach your pup that making a fuss opens the door.
Guess what happens when you want to sleep? During the night there is no better place for your puppy than in a crate right beside your bed. You can rest easily knowing that junior canine is not scratching holes in the kitchen cabinets, ingesting your baseboards, or eliminating where you are likely to step in it in the dark of night. If you think your pup needs to go, I mean really go, then stand close to the crate and try to get some quiet before you take the puppy out to pee. Take the puppy straight outside or to an indoor potty area wait five minutes and then right back in the crate, until you are ready to let the puppy out. You will soon be able to tell by the sounds whether your pup is desperate for relief or just wants to get out to chew on the cat.
TAKE THE PUPPY OUTSIDE, OR TO A TOILETING AREA, AFTER EVERY MEAL, WHEN THE PUPPY WAKES UP, AFTER PLAY, DURING PLAY, WHENEVER THE PUPPY CIRCLES AND SNIFFS THE GROUND, EVERY FIFTEEN MINUTES AND ANY TIME THE PUPPY LOOKS READY TO GO.
PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE YOUR PUPPY FOR GOING IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Sounds impossible doesn't it? Don't worry. It won't be long before your pup will get the idea and start going to the door, or at least making an effort to get there. Remember a puppy is just a baby and they really won't have total control for a few months. Most puppies will learn in a week or so that there is a special place for elimination. It may take longer for the idea to penetrate that going anywhere else is completely unacceptable. Italian Greyhounds have minds of their own and also take their time growing up. Be patient, vigilant and consistent.
If you catch the puppy in the act say "whoops let's go outside" or something else that isn't a scream of "Nooooo, you horrible, bad nasty puppy!" You are allowed to use a tone of voice that is strong enough to get your pup's attention which might interrupt the flow. If you get too upset you're likely to scare your puppy into submissive urination. Puppies squat and pee to show submission and acknowledge a stronger animal. Do not scream, hit, shake puppy by the scruff or rub puppy's nose in it. The last thing you want is a dog that pees whenever it sees you or is afraid to go in front of you and sneaks off to go when you aren't looking. It is important to catch the puppy in the act and immediately get that puppy to the designated toileting area to really get the connection in the puppy's mind.
If you do find an "accident" do not scold the puppy after the fact. Contrary to popular opinion that the dog "knows" because of that "guilty" look the dog is actually showing submission to your anger and dominant behaviour. If you must punish somebody then give yourself a shake and a good stern talking to. "Bad owner, keep your eyes on that puppy! Now go and clean up that mess!" You don't even really need to yell or shake a finger, cleaning up the mess is enough punishment for most people. Always use an odour removing agent such as vinegar or "Odor Out" to remove every trace of odour. Dogs are more likely to go where they have gone before and the smell is what tells them it's a good toilet place. Never use ammonia based cleaners to clean up, as ammonia is one of the chemical components of urnie and will tell your pup to "pee here".
Overnight is going to be work for the first week to ten days. Forget about sleeping through the night for the first week at least. A crate is a lifesaver at this point. If your puppy is not getting the idea you might need to barricade the crate so that there is just enough room to stand up, turn around, lie down and stretch out. Anymore room could be interpreted as an ensuite bathroom to the pup. Keep the crate close to you so that you can hear if the puppy needs to go out. Give the last meal before seven in the evening and the last drink no later than eight. Make sure puppy has a chance to go out around ten to eleven and then bed down in the crate. Some puppies may need to be prodded awake to do this late night bathroom break, but perservere. I guarantee that if you don't you'll be staggering out of bed at three in the morning. You might have to get up around five or six in the morning, for the first few nights, but you can gradually extend the time by a few minutes every day. When you get up do not stop for anything, get that puppy to a potty area!
The morning you think, I'll just get my slippers, will be the morning you'll spend cleaning up the puddle on the floor. Keep your slippers, sweatpants, robe or what-have-you ready beside the bed. A little planning beforehand cuts down considerably on the clean up chores. Carry the puppy the first few mornings, sometimes the action of walking can get that bladder going. Patience is not only a virtue, but it is essential in training a puppy. Be realistic, your pup is still a baby and won't have complete control for some time yet. If you leave puppy alone too long or forget to do that walk at night you'll get an accident.
Housetraining a puppy can be very stressful for everyone concerned. It is easy to get frustrated and angry when things take longer than you want them to. Believe me, no one wants housetraining to take longer than two seconds. The reality is that it can take as long as six months for your pup to be reliable. Don't panic! By the time they are three months old most pups have the rudiments, they just don't have the control and ability to wait. Vigilance on your part will avoid most accidents. Puppies do not pee on the floor to get even with you, because they want attention, or because they know better but just don't care. Puppies pee on the floor because it is there when they need it and they need to go right now.
Young puppies are eager to please and learn quickly. After the first month you'll wonder what all the fuss was about. You'll wake up late one morning and find your puppy is still sleeping peacefully. You'll realize that you haven't had to clean up and accidents for three or four days. At this point it is tempting to relax and think your puppy is completely housetrained. Don't do it, remain vigilant and make sure there are many opportunities to go to the proper spot and get it right. Your job will get easier and easier as your pup matures. When a whole month has gone by without an accident, you can pat yourself on the back, give yourself a treat and say "Well done!"
by Naomi Kane
Lewenhart Italian Greyhounds and Leonbergers