Even though housetraining a puppy is work, good days are ahead

Susan Manzke
Susan's newest canine companion Stella.

I had been told by other dog owners that I shouldn’t get a puppy. Their advice was to find a dog that was already housebroken.

As you might know, I didn’t take that advice. Stella is about three months old and she didn’t have the slightest idea what housebreaking was about. Now it’s up to me to do the training.

My new pup came with a folder filled with directions on how to live with a puppy. Of course, she hadn’t read any of these papers. The only papers that came her way were the ones I used to mop up her puddles. In the past, I referred to these as accidents, but in actuality, the puddles are a natural call of nature for a dog. Stella would consider what I was trying to get her to do—go potty outside—as unnatural.

A person has to have a lot of time to housebreak a puppy. The last time I worked to housebreak a dog was 13 years ago when Bob and I rescued Sunny and his brother Booker. It wasn’t easy working with those two. They came to our home in January. Running outside with those two in the dead of winter wasn’t fun. Besides grabbing the two puppies, we had to slip into our winter jackets and boots. It was considered a successful run if one or both did their business outside.

Sunny and Booker got used to going outside on the snow. As spring melted the snow, those two looked for the last patches of icy patches to relieve themselves. They were a bit confused when everything melted, but they managed and both were soon housebroken, though I can’t remember exactly how long it took.

Sunny, left, and Booker in 2010.

I’m in the early stages of housetraining Stella. I’m so happy when she goes outside and relieves herself. On the frustrating side, I think she’s finished, only to have her come back into the house and leave me a puddle.

As soon as the sun starts to brighten our world, both the dog and I are up. At this point, I don’t give her the chance to leave a puddle on the floor. To avoid this accident, I have to hurry to grab her and take her outside. We go together into her pen, where I set her down so she can run across her fenced area and do her business.

This morning we were outside before five. The sun hadn’t even peeked over the horizon.

Stella didn’t automatically go potty. First, she walked around the wet grass, making her way to a patch where there wasn’t any grass. Stella doesn’t like wet feet. Eventually, I encouraged her to walk across the yard to her ‘spot’ and she went.

“Good Stella!” I praised her and scratched her when she came to me for a treat. Yes, she was a good dog. Too bad that didn’t last. When Stella returned inside, she left a little gift for me. Ugh.

I did not punish Stella. The most I did was to say, “Bad girl!” as I cleaned up the mess and sprayed the area with Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover, a dog accident spray.

Currently, Stella is in her crate. Puppies don’t mess in their little homes. After an hour confined, I will take her back outside where hopefully she’ll do her business. If that happens, we’ll both celebrate—Stella with a treat and me with a happy dance.

It may take some weeks to get Stella housebroken, but at least it isn’t winter. Even though training means a lot of work for me, I know there are good days ahead. My new furry friend is a smart pup. We will get past the inside messes as we become fast friends.

Stella’s first ride with Susan on the farm utility cart.

Yesterday, I even took her for her first utility cart ride. She enjoyed the view, and I enjoyed her company.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;;