Advice on puppy house training in a flat.
March 10, 2013 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I live in a 12th floor flat with a large balcony, 3m x 9m, which is enclosed, glazed, heated, pretty much counts as an extra room in the flat. It is tiled, and was once exposed, so has drains and is designed to withstand the elements. Could I house train a young spaniel pup in such an environment? Could I allow the pup to wee down the balcony drain in the short term, and would this make it difficult to train it to only poo outside? I don't mind accidents in the short term. Is it cruel to keep a dog in such a flat? The pup could have the run of this balcony until it is housetrained. I work at home, often from a desk on the balcony. So they pup would get lots of contact. I can happily provide 3 good long walks a day no problem, but I'm worried about the initial period. I live across the road from a dog friendly beach and park. Though it takes a few minutes to get from the flat to the road, which is ample time for accidents to happen.
posted by molloy to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Training pads.
posted by Seeking Direction at 4:25 PM on March 10, 2013

Porch potty?
posted by erst at 4:43 PM on March 10, 2013

Could I allow the pup to wee down the balcony drain in the short term?

Please, for the sake of your neighbors, no. I had a neighbor who allowed their dog to pee (and poop) on the balcony 10 feet from mine, and not only did it REEK but it was literally drizzling down the outside wall of the building and onto the patio below. So disgusting.

This neighbor eventually got evicted, for a combination of reasons but that one (a violation of building policy, and a health hazard) being one of them.
posted by celtalitha at 4:46 PM on March 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the porch potty (or similar DIY grassy enclosure). If you are getting a young puppy (8-12 weeks old), and if you want to house train the puppy quickly (i.e., within a week), you should be prepared to take it out to the surface you want it to wee on every 1-2 hours to wee while it learns proper weeing protocol. You will also need to be able to get the puppy to the wee-appropriate surface quickly; a few minutes is too long for a tiny puppy attention span.

If you teach the puppy to wee down the drain, it will be difficult for the dog to "unlearn" that the drain is not a toilet. As celtalitha pointed out, this will cause odor problems for you and sanitary problems for whomever lives "downstream" -- not to mention issues of neighbourly diplomacy.

Those training pads are really unpleasant and don't help to reinforce that grass = the place to wee.

Unsolicited general advice regarding dog training: Read Perfect Puppy in 7 Days by Sophia Yin, DVM.
posted by Spinneret at 5:04 PM on March 10, 2013

In this situation (although actually going outside as much as possible is best) I think I might use the balcony, and lay down sod, even if it is just loose on the tiles, to simulate the outside environment and teach the puppy where it's supposed to go - on grass. Puppies need to go out at least every two hours during the day, so I can see how it would be very difficult to get outside that often, and especially in cases when you see the puppy begin to sniff around and look for a spot to go - time is limited. Loose sod on tile isn't going to live long, but it's chep and could be replaced periodically, and I think old provide the most realistic potty-training learning environment you could achieve n a balcony like that, and would still be somewhat sanitary. It will drain, and the od can be discarded when it starts to ie and get too brown.

Training pads or newspapers don't help make the connection to grass and outside.
posted by catatethebird at 5:15 PM on March 10, 2013

We house-trained (crate-trained) our puppy while living in a unit on the 11th floor of a building with slow elevators, at least two blocks away from grass. She had one poop-accident in the unit during the first week and a handful of pee accidents - only one in the hall. Because we know that was a possibility, we normally brought a roll of paper towels and a pet-smell/urine cleaner for the hall carpets... just in case. We took her out immediately upon her leaving the crate, if she didn't potty immediately upon getting her outside then we came back up and she went back into the crate for an other 30 mins and we repeated the process. Once she pottied outside, quickly, and in an appropriate place she got to go on a nice long walk/play. Now that we live in MT, I can't tell you how happy we are that when it's freezing and snowing, we can go out and rely on her to potty immediately.

Like you, I worked from home. If she wasn't getting the nearly-full attention from me or the hubby, she was in the crate to keep her from having unnoticed accidents. No accidents after that first week even with the long trips to leave the building. I'd strongly suggest counting on frequent (every 2 hours-ish), short walks initially and then giving the pup those awesome long walks once the pup can hold their potty for 4 hours. Once it's clear that pup is used to going potty ONLY outside, you can ease off the crate and let pup chill with you while you work.

You really don't want that dog thinking tile is an appropriate place to potty...not just for your place and neighbors but what if you need a friend to pet sit and they have a tile floor elsewhere? Won't be pretty.
posted by adorap0621 at 5:56 PM on March 10, 2013

Could I allow the pup to wee down the balcony drain in the short term, and would this make it difficult to train it to only poo outside?

As a new dog owner, I find it laughable that your dog would cooperate with some kind of mandate to only go in one particular 4-inch spot in one particular room of your house.

When I got my dog I had grand plans for where his "spot" would be in the yard. Surely, I thought, all one would need to do would be to walk the dog to this spot, stand around for a bit, and presto, pee.

Needless to say this is not what happened at all. It turns out my dog has definite preferences about where his urine belongs, and my carefully chosen spot doesn't even make the top 10.

Also, re the poo thing. My dog has totally different habits for peeing and pooping. Pee is to be used as a mark for other dogs, freely scattered around the neighborhood as needed on our walks. Poo happens only in very specific circumstances that seem unrelated to the Rules Of Pee. I don't know if this means you stand a chance of using your patio as a dog pee area without turning it into a poo area, but they do seem to be different activities as far as my dog is concerned.

(This is neither here nor there, but frankly I would be more OK with my dog having a poo accident in the house rather than a pee one. At least poo is self-contained and stops stinking when you remove it from the premises.)

A word of wisdom on your idea, in general. My dad and stepmom have a similar glassed in porch, which is where my stepmom's fleet of chihuahuas live. Being tiny dogs with tiny bladders, they were allowed to go on the porch just like your idea. The porch soon reeked of dog urine to the point that it was almost unbearable to go in there and was even noticeable from other parts of the house. After a lot of training, they FINALLY went back on the "porch = dog bathroom" idea and now thing are a little bit normal. But it took a long time, and it occurs to me that it would probably be best not to teach your dog to pee on the porch in the first place.

Just take your dog outdoors to pee like every other (sane) dog owner does.
posted by Sara C. at 8:30 PM on March 10, 2013

I just housebroke a puppy -- my first time doing so. Although we live on the ground floor, we have a similar level of difficulty to you in that my cottage is literally smack in the middle of someone else's garden, so the nearest possible potty spot is more than a block away. I also work from home.

It took about 1-2 days for her to understand that not only did she need to do her business outside, but also we had to walk the length of the garden path and then a block down the road. And bless her heart, she does it every time! Such a champ. It took about two weeks of carefully watching her signals before we were accident free. She goes out at least four times a day (morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and evening), but usually more like 5 or 6 (all short walks, except a long evening walk). Having a dog makes a GREAT excuse to get outside and stop blinking at pixels.

My point is, while it would have been possible for me to train this pup to use pads, etc., I think it's more than plausible that your pup can make it down an elevator and across the street pretty reliably, with no worries about the drainpipe.
posted by mochapickle at 9:39 PM on March 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would lay down the sod--you don't want to teach the puppy it's OK to do his business on the floor. But crate training and taking him outside every couple of hours is more work on the front end but faster.
posted by elizeh at 8:50 PM on March 11, 2013

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