Cavachon Housebreaking Tips
We have had several inquiries about Cavachons and housebreaking so I have decided to write about our experience with Kasey going through the process.
Before Kasey even came home, I spent a lot of time reading “puppy books.” I really did not have much knowledge about raising a puppy. When it came to housebreaking, I wanted to be prepared with as much knowledge and as many tips as I could find. I highly recommend this. What worked for us may not work for you, but, you may come across an idea from someone else that will. I also purchased a crate before Kasey arrived. I got the type where you could adjust one of the walls to change the size as the puppy grew. We started out with it very small, so he felt protected and cozy. As he grew, we moved the wall to make the crate larger. We still have that crate and it ended up the perfect size for him. He loves his crate, it is “his safe place.”
From the very beginning, I would set Kasey in the crate with a toy and blanket – the door open – and pet him. It was great when he would fall asleep there! The goal was to get him to see the crate as his bed and a safe place. After he was used to being put in there, I would close the door for a short time – just a few minutes. I gradually increased that amount of time, up to 15 minutes or so. I was also encouraging him to go in there on his own – usually with a little gentle “persuasion” at first. Once inside, I would give him a little treat (I used a piece of his food or a Cheerio) and praise him. I always put him in the crate to sleep at night.
If you are wondering why I began by talking about crate training, it is because it is so important for many reasons. Your puppy needs a safe, comfy, warm place to go. That will never change! Also, dogs usually will not soil “their place.” That is why the crate is a key component of housebreaking.
In general, every time your puppy wakes up (and they sleep a lot!), runs or plays a bit, eats, drinks or starts sniffing the floor – IMMEDIATELY TAKE THEM OUTSIDE!!! I would just pick Kasey up and get out there. In the beginning, do pick them up to go out, especially after sleeping. You don’t want them to relieve themselves before they get out the door. I tried to take him to the same general area, not too far from the house, set him down and wait for him to “perform.” When he did, I would excitedly praise him and give him a treat – the whole family kept Cheerios in our pockets! We did take him out often, but I think that is what helped him learn. If you want to play with your puppy outside (who wouldn’t?), go to a different area. These guys are smart – they will learn that certain places are for certain things.
In the event there is an accident in the house, do the same thing right away, except telling him “no” and to “potty outside!” If you do not see the accident happen, it is too late to correct him. He will not know why you are mad at him. It is important that the puppy understands what he hid, and where he should have done it! Until you have learned your puppy’s habits, you may want to confine him to a tiled area. There will be accidents and doing that makes clean up much easier. Use one of the doggy spray cleaners that neutralizes the smell so they are not tempted to use the same spot again. If you do not have that, you can use water with vinegar in it.
I did try getting Kasey to use puppy pads at first. I know some people have success with that, then move them closer and closer to the outside door, and eventually the dog learns to go outside. We did not have any luck with that. Kasey just saw the puppy pad as something to chew and never “pottied” on it no matter how often I would put him on there or how long I kept him on there! We were very lucky to have brought Kasey home in the summer. We live in Northeast Ohio, so had it been winter, the process would have been much more difficult.
The learning process went pretty quickly. Kasey would go to the bathroom as soon as he got outside. Perfecting the whole thing took quite a while longer. It did not help that we moved to a new house when he was six months old, so our lives were quite chaotic for quite a while. He was doing pretty well before the move. We did not have to always watch him and he had very few accidents. Another thing I had done was teach him the “bell” technique. I will get into that next time, but I do think it helped somewhat at the new house, once he figured out where the bell was!
It was probably close to a year before I would say Kasey was completely housebroken – meaning no accidents whatsoever. Between six and twelve months he was still having accidents in the house, but I do believe that our personal circumstances influenced that. Even during that whole transition, the accidents were infrequent, but none-the-less annoying!
Kasey is now over 2½ years old and I still give him a treat when he “poops” outside. I just never completely broke that reward habit. He knows the difference in our outings and runs to the drawer where I keep treats if he went poop while we were out there! Now, he usually only goes outside 3 or 4 times a day – early morning, late afternoon, then again before bed. If we are going for a walk or somewhere in the car, he’ll go again. I usually just take him out when it is convenient for me, but if he can’t wait, he lets me know by ringing the bell!