Paper-Training Your Puppy

When you first get a new puppy, there are several major decisions to be made about its management, including whether to employ a technique known as paper-training.

Paper-training is basically training a puppy to urinate and/or defecate on strategically-place papers in selected areas in the house. A bathroom is a frequently selected room as the floor is usually clad with linoleum or tiles and is easily cleaned should any urine defuse through the papers. The idea, of course, is that the papers will absorb the pup’s urine, making cleanup and disposal easy and convenient.

People who decide to go the paper-training route with their puppy might be described as realists or pragmatists. They accept the fact that there will be occasional accidents inside the house and they prefer to direct those accidents onto an easily cleanable substrate (i.e. the newspapers).

There is a school of thought, however, that paper-training may be somewhat confusing for the pup, since the pup learns that eliminating inside the house is okay while you are trying to train it to eliminate outside. People of this persuasion, the idealists, or purists, prefer not to encourage or condone any elimination inside the house on grounds that it will delay the achievement of housebreaking. Instead, they employ a more radical approach of encouraging urination and defecation outside the house while completely circumventing the possibility of elimination within the home.

Technique for Paper-Training

For the realists or pragmatists, who do decide to adopt paper-training for their pup, the following technique can be used.

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.

A novel alternative to paper-training is litter-training. A new puppy (and dog) litter, called Second Nature®, has been put out by Ralston Purina. The absorbent pellets that constitute the litter are put in a proprietary litter tray, supplied by the company, and the pup is then trained to use this set up as the “indoor bathroom.” For little dogs, that will weigh, say, less than 20 lbs. as adults, there is no particular reason why the indoor litter box arrangement shouldn’t be an everyday feature, as it is for cats. The training process is similar to that described above for training a pup to use paper as the elimination substrate. Using a litter box has the added advantages that urine is completely contained within the litter tray and that a litter-trained dog will not mistake your Sunday paper for its bathroom.