House training….It’s enough to give a first-time puppy owner chills. How in the world is it done? Everyone seems to have their own ideas, but what’s the best way? Are there methods that work better for the Miniature Schnauzer specifically? Is it possible to train a male not to “mark his territory”? Whether you’re brand new at this, or just need a little refresher for your newest arrival, this article is for you.

The #1 Myth people believe about male Miniature Schnauzers:
They are tough to house train, and no matter what you do, they’ll still hike everywhere. Wrong and wrong. Schnauzer males are actually easier to house train! A customer bought a male and female puppies at the same time, and we asked her several months later how house training was going. She said her male is doing great, but her female still has some issues. We weren’t a bit surprised! This story has repeated itself over and over ever since our first male Schnauzer was completely house trained within 2 weeks after we brought him home. If you follow the steps below, house training shouldn’t be a problem for females and especially not for males.

It starts with the breeder. At Midnight Schnauzers, we are aware that we will have almost as much impact on your puppy’s training future as you do! That’s why we start the puppies going outside to potty between 5 and 6 weeks. They learn to potty and poo-poo on command. The goal is to teach them to quickly do their jobs outside and then come inside to play. We also are obsessive about keeping their area clean and free of bad smells so they know that potty and poo-poo does NOT belong inside. By the time you take your puppy home, they’ll be well on their way to complete house training.

Establish a schedule. Puppies usually sleep all night after 10 weeks, but you may need to take them out halfway through the night. First thing in the morning, puppies ALWAYS need to potty. They’ll probably start crying because they don’t want to mess their sleeping area. That’s your signal to take them. Who needs an alarm clock when you have a puppy?:) So they come inside, eat breakfast, and they’ll need to go out 10-15 minutes after they eat. When they come in, they can have some supervised playtime. The same goes for lunch and supper. Establish a schedule and stick with it as much as you can. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they like things to stay pretty much the same. Puppies also need to potty after they wake up from a nap, after taking a drink, or anytime they’ve run up and down playing (this stirs up their bladder), and last thing before bedtime. When in doubt, take them out!

Crate train. The crate is hands-down your most valuable house training tool. To a puppy, a crate is a den-like atmosphere. It’s a spot that’s all their own. No humans allowed! When puppies are in their crate, they are much more likely to cry for you to take them out because they can’t stand messing their “den.” That’s why a puppy should never be allowed to fall asleep outside their crate. They ALWAYS need to tinkle when they first wake up, and if they’re uncrated, they will get up and do it wherever. If you can’t supervise your puppy, you’ll want to put them in a crate. Having the run of a big (to them) house can be majorly intimidating to a puppy and they feel much safer in their own little spot. This also prevents unwanted surprises and furniture damage! If you take your puppy outside, and they don’t do their jobs, they lose play privileges and go to the crate for nap time. Puppies are smarter than we give them credit for, and they quickly figure out that potty outside means playtime with you inside.

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Back yard

Never play outside while house training. This rule might seem a little strange, but the reason is that puppies have a super short attention span. If you let them, they will get distracted and totally forget why you came outside: all they want to do is play. The problem is that when you get inside, they’ll suddenly remember the whole potty thing and do it wherever they happen to be. Ouch. This can quickly become an almost unbreakable habit. Double ouch. So it’s your job to remind them with the potty commands and strictly enforce this rule with the whole family. I know that a puppy frisking around in the sunshine begging you to play is almost irresistible, but you can say no. Really.

My puppy had an accident. Now what? In spite of your best efforts, every puppy will have a few accidents. When it happens, have them smell it, give them the “No, no, no” talk in a low, stern voice, and take them outside immediately. If they potty outside, praise them lavishly, clean up the mess (we use 1:1 vinegar and water), and, if possible, let them have another chance at playtime. If they don’t potty outside, crate for a while and try going outside again in about 30 minutes (unless they’ve gone to Dreamland; then wait until they wake up and cry). If they potty outside, play privileges are back!

Be consistent. I’ve saved the most important thing for last. The rules of house training must be followed 24/7 or they’ll never work. It helps to always use the same door, go to the same spot in the yard, and use the same commandsevery time. Our puppies are trained to potty outside in a playpen, and I’m told it works like a charm to keep using a playpen outside for awhile after you bring them home. Again, dogs are creatures of habit. If you get them trained in the right direction consistently, they’ll get the hang of it and keep going.