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Paper Training

Image00037I am not a huge advocate for paper training, however, I recognize that there may be circumstances where this is your only alternative. If you live in an apartment without easy quick access to the outside, house training could be a real problem. If you are handicapped or elderly, again quick and easy access to the outdoors may present difficulties for you and your puppy. Paper training or litter box training may be a better choice for you and the puppy.

Paper training is basically training a puppy to "go" on strategically placed papers in selected areas in the house. An area, such as a bathroom or wash room is often suggested because the floors in these rooms are typically not carpeted and is easily cleaned should urine leak through paper. Puppy pads found in pet stores have plastic bottoms to help prevent leaking. I prefer newspaper, because it is least expensive and usually easily obtainable.

  • Lay down newspapers at one end of the room to cover, say, 25-33% of the floor area. The papers should be suitably thick that they will absorb � to � cup water without it seeping through to the floor beneath.


  • At the opposite end of the room, put down a water bowl for the puppy and perhaps one or two playthings.


  • Bring the puppy into the room and stay with it for a period of time. It is best to choose a time when the pup is likely to eliminate (e.g. 2 hours after it last urinated).


  • Observe the pup's behavior, whether eating, drinking, playing, or exploring. If, at any time, it starts to sniff the ground more actively, to circle, or squat, you know it is about to eliminate. If, at this time, it happens to be on the non-newspapered section of the floor, calmly interrupt it, lift it onto the newspapers and use what will become well-engrained cue words that it will associate with the elimination process. Typical words are: "Hurry up" and "Go potty."


  • When the pup eliminates on the newspaper, with or without your assistance, praise it extravagantly. If it has an accident at the "wrong" end of the room, do not scold it, simply clean up the mess and continue as before.


  • Because of the set up in the room, it is much more likely that the pup will eliminate on the newspaper than to go at the other end of the room near its food and water bowl, so that the deck is stacked in your favor. So powerful is the instinct to eliminate away from the feeding area that even if you were to leave a pup alone in the paper-clad room, it would probably immediately gravitate to using the newspapers.


  • Once the pup is regularly using the newspapers for elimination, the area that the newspapers occupy can be reduced to a more convenient size. It is probably safest to achieve this area reduction gradually.


  • When a pup knows what newspapers are for, it can be encouraged to urinate on them in other locations, too, should an owner so desire.


  • When the pup has to be left for a few hours it can be confined in a discreet area along with access to folded newspapers that will serve as its bathroom. This is very convenient for owners but, as mentioned, may delay eventual housebreaking.


  • During paper-training, and even after it has been achieved, training the pup to eliminate outside should be ongoing. The accomplishment of having the puppy urinate or defecate outside should be so richly rewarded that the pup will literally hold on to a bladder full of urine in the hopes of getting the opportunity to urinate outside. Of course, there's a limit to the amount of time a pup can hold its urine, maybe 4 hours for a 3-month old pup and 5 hours for a 4-month old pup, so owners must remain ever vigilant if unavoidable accidents are to be prevented. You must be especially careful with a paper-trained pup when you put your Sunday newspaper onto the floor while you go to get that second cup of coffee, otherwise you may come back to find there is more in the news than you had ever bargained for.