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House Training

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House Training Your Pomeranian

Overview

Pomeranians are rather good with training; whether it is for housebreaking, heeling, or performing tricks. 

When it comes to house training, this will be a combined effort between the two of you. It will be a partnership in learning. You'll take the important role of teacher, and your Pom will be a great student, as long as you follow all of the necessary guidelines. 

Here, we'll cover the elements that you'll need to know in order to help your Pom puppy or un-trained older dog be successful. 

When to Start Housebreaking

Start right away, whether you are going to be housebreaking a new Pomeranian puppy or an older, adopted dog. 
With puppies: Some owners wonder if they should allow for an adjustment period first to allow a Pom puppy to become accustomed to his new environment. 

However, part of learning about a new house and a new routine is housebreaking. 

Therefore, a Pomeranian as young as 8 weeks old is ready to start learning all about going potty in his designated area.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that puppies should not be brought outside to any areas that other dogs could have had access to until it is 2 weeks past their full round of puppy shots. 
This excludes any other dogs that you may have, as long as you are 100% positive that they are fully up-to-date on vaccinations.

So, do keep this in mind when you choose a spot as the designated area for your Pom to potty in.

With older dogs: It's not uncommon for an adult to find his way to a new home; whether this is through a shelter, a rescue, or a re-homing of another sort. Even if you have been told that the Pomeranian is housebroken, you will still want to follow through with all of the training steps. 

This is because you will want to be sure that your Pom understands your rules and where his bathroom area is. Too many owners of adult dogs just assume that the dog will alert them to their bathroom needs; however, you may find out the hard way that this is not true. Your Pom will need to be taught the rules that are in place under your roof. 

How Long it Takes to Housebreak a Pomeranian

Pomeranians are pretty fast learners; however, the time that it takes for a Pom to be 100% fully housebroken will depend on a few factors.

Two of the most important elements will be how strictly you stick with the training and how many learning opportunities the Pom has.

Therefore, a lot of this depends on you. It will be important for you (and anyone else in the house that is responsible for your Pom) to follow the housebreaking guidelines to a tee. And a big part of this will be how often the Pom has a chance for his lessons.

In busy households in which a Pom does not have guidance for most of the day, housebreaking can still be done, but will often take longer than in a house where an owner is home most days.

This all said, it will take 2 to 4 months for a Pomeranian to be fully house trained. 

Indoor Vs Outdoor

It is a popular notion that toy breed dogs can easily be trained to use a litter box or pee pads. While this is possible, this is not as easy as it sounds. A puppy may resist or have a hard time using pee pads because canines have a natural instinct to want to 'choose just the right spot' to urinate or eliminate. 

However, indoor training can be done if you are persistent and you have a puppy that is cooperative.

We recommend the outdoor housebreaking method, unless there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from taking your Pom outdoors. 

To keep things simplified going forward, we will refer to your chosen spot as the 'designated bathroom area', and this will be the term used whether you have pee pads set up in a corner, have an indoor grass mat for your Pom, or are training outside. 
cute-pomeranian-puppy-behind-gate
Snow, at 8 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Tin Martelino 

Preparing to Housebreak Your Pomeranian

You may wonder what you have to prepare for. Can't you just go and do it? But, in order to be successful, you will want to set a few things up in advance. 

If not, you may find yourself facing certain training struggles. So, taking time to be fully prepared will ensure that you will do a great job as a trainer and that your Pom will be able to be a good student.

#1 Choose the designated area. Every housebreaking rule is an important one, but this is certainly right at the top.

Never just allow your Pom to go outside 'somewhere'. 
One certain area should be chosen as the designated bathroom area. Ideally, it will be an area of an 8 to 10-foot diameter. 

Your Pomeranian should be brought to that same area each and every time you take him out. Also, and importantly, he should be brought there both before and after any walks. A huge mistake that owners make is allowing a dog to pee and poo along the walking route.

If you do that, you will miss a big opportunity for a housebreaking lesson. 

Here are some tips on choosing where to bring your Pomeranian to go to the bathroom:
  • Consider all of the seasons. What may be easily accessible in the spring may be hard to reach in the winter. If you live somewhere that receives snow or bad weather, choose a spot that you can easily reach no matter what.
  • Do not have this be close to a busy outdoor family area. If you have an outside spot that is frequently used for barbecuing or for kids to play, you'll want to pick a place that is at least 10 feet away. 
Note: Within the chosen bathroom area, your Pom should be able to choose the exact spot. This will be accomplished by having him on leash and harness (leash and collar has many negatives, including possible neck injury and limited control). 
You will stand in the middle of the area, and with your Pom on a 6 to 10 foot leash, allow him to sniff around and choose an exact spot to pee and poo. 
#2 Choose a containment method. This also is at the very top of the list of absolute necessities. And, not having this is the downfall of a huge number of housebreaking failures. 

A Pomeranian that is not fully housebroken should NEVER be allowed free reign in either a room or the house if he is not being supervised.

Any time at all that you cannot keep a very close eye on your Pomeranian, he should be in his 'area'. And this area should be a small gated off area of a certain room by using gates that he cannot go through, or an indoor canine playpen (more ahead).

In addition, your Pomeranian should be sleeping on a quality canine bed that is located within his area. This is to both limit messes at night, and to allow him to become accustomed to his area for when he is home alone. 
fluffy-pomeranian
Zeek Logo
Photo courtesy of Sassey Easton
Please note: Just about every single case of a Pomeranian peeing in the house or leaving messes in unexpected spots, is due to an untrained Pom being allowed to walk around without supervision. 

For those that believe that a trained Pomeranian is pee'ing and pooing all over, this is either a case of marking (for urination issues), a matter of the Pom not actually being fully trained, or the Pom having no choice but to go to the bathroom inside (was not taken outside often enough, had no pee pads to use). 

And for every single person who is looking for ways to stop their Pomeranian from peeing on their own mattress whilst cuddling together at night, this is always a case of the Pom not being supervised. You cannot supervise him while you are asleep. So, puppies should be in their own area during the night until they are fully trained. 

Housebreaking is hard enough without setting yourself up for disaster in this regard. 
pomeranian-puppy-wearing-bandana
Periwinkle Killeen
Photo courtesy of Darienne
Setting up the area: Creating a nice environment for your Pom should be done for both housebreaking and for when he is home by himself. So, if you do this the right way, your Pom will benefit from this in more ways than one. 

The best method for house training is to have a good sized canine playpen.  Note that this is not a crate. Crates are terribly confining, lend zero aid towards housebreaking, usually lead to a Pom stepping in his own feces and urine, and can cause both physical and emotional stress. 

A pen will allow your Pom to have his own area in which to play, rest, and sleep when you are not right there beside him. This is the #1 method to contain messes until he is trained. 

Also, this is an important part of setting up the right environment for when he's home alone. When a dog has a defined space that contains his supplies, it speaks to his canine need to have a 'den'. 

It immediately brings about feelings of security. 
You may also choose to block off a section of a room with gates; however, this comes with some disadvantages. You'll have to continually puppy proof the area, there will be pee and poo deposited over a larger area, and it does not offer the same 'den' feeling that a playpen can. 

Within the pen will be 4 spots: A bed, food & water bowls, a toy area, and importantly the 4th area that will be for pee pads. Since dogs will rarely soil their own belongings, pee and poo will be done on the pads. 

So, you will find that a great playpen like the IRIS 24'' Exercise Pet Playpen with Door is a valuable tool for training, as well as where you will want your Pom to be when you are away from home (at least until he is fully housebroken and/or he does not have separation anxiety). 
#3 Choose your reward treats. Any time that a puppy or dog is trying to learn something, he is going to be more motivated to focus, be better able to soak in the knowledge, understand that he did something right, and look forward to the next lesson if he is properly rewarded.

The proper reward when housebreaking is to acknowledge the deed with a super tasty treat, and give words of praise. 

Eventually you will not need to offer a treat for each successful bathroom trip. Once he is trained, your words alone will suffice. However, it is recommended to occasionally give treat rewards to Poms to reinforce lessons and show that you appreciate good behavior. 

Tips: 

1) When choosing the treat, you will want to be careful to opt for a very wholesome treat that does not contain any chemical additives, is considered to be extra tasty, and is small enough that it can be doled out multiple times per day without causing a Pomeranian to feel full and potentially getting in the way of meals. 

A couple recommended treats for house training include Fruitables Pumpkin & Blueberry Crunchy Dog Treats, which are made in the USA, are sized small for toy breed dogs, have no extra additives, and are well received due to their pretty great flavors. Aside from the pumpkin and blueberry, there is also pumpkin and banana, apple, and cranberry. 
Another good choice is Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Training Treats, which are also made in the USA, and are wholesome treats. These are also the perfect size for training, and their moist texture sends a strong signal to reward a job well done. 

2) Keep a small plastic bag of your chosen training treat right by the exit door. There will be times when you are hurrying out with your Pom for immediate bathroom needs, and you do not want to be wasting time in getting them. 

Also, keep the sandwich bag zipped up so that your Pom does not smell them beforehand. 
#4 Be ready for a speedy exit. The final step in preparing is to have your Pom wearing his harness or collar and to keep the leash right by the door to facilitate a fast exit to the designated area. 

We do highly recommend a harness. If you have not used one before, you may at first think that they are cumbersome or difficult to take on and off.

However, a little harness like the Lil Pals Mesh Comfort Adjustable Harness for Puppies and Toy Breeds is super easy to put on and off via a soft velcro fastener, is breathable so that you can leave it on without worry, and is comes in size XXS, which is for tiny pups under 5 lbs. 

To Summarize Your Prep:

You will be ready to successfully housebreak your Pomeranian puppy once you:

1) Have chosen a good location for your Pom's designated bathroom area that will be relatively easy to reach all year round
2) Have set up a playpen or other effective containment method for your Pom to be in any time that you cannot keep a very close eye on him, including to sleep at night
3) Have special training treats in a zipped plastic bag right by the exit door
4) And have your Pom's harness on him and his leash ready in order to spring into action

How Often to Take a Pom Out

The more you take your Pom outside, the more chances you will have to teach a housebreaking lesson. If he does not pee or poo, you've lost nothing except a small window of time.
So, you will want to bring him to the bathroom spot as much as possible. 

Whenever you are home and can do so, keep your Pom's by your side to supervise him and be able to immediately spring into action if he makes a motion to pee or poo.

If you are not in a closed off room with your Pom, tether him to you by looping the end of the leash through your belt loop, or around your wrist. 

With a harness on - not a collar - he will be safe; but even so, do take care to not accidentally jerk the leash. 
pomeranian-named-fluffy
Fluffy, photo courtesy of Shannon
Aside from those times that he makes a motion to go, even if he does not show any indication of having a bathroom need, still bring him out: 

1. Immediately after being taken out of his playpen or gated area
2. When he first wakes up (from both naps and overnight sleep)
3. 20 - 30 minutes before bedtime
4. 20 minutes after eating
5. Every 2 hours for a 2 month old, every 3 hours for a 3 month old, etc. 

Note: It is important to extend the time like this so that bladder and bowel muscles are given the opportunity to grow stronger. If a dog is never given the chance to hold his needs, it can take much longer for those muscles to reach their peak strength. 

Housebreaking Tips

Once you are sure that you are fully prepped, it will be time to start housebreaking. Here is some helpful advice. Some of this will be slightly repeated from above, so that it is in an order that makes sense. 

1. Keep your Pom with you, by your side as often as possible. If he makes a motion to pee or poo, clap your hands loudly and/or call out his name to cause him to pause.

It does not help to yell out 'No!' if your Pom has only started to squat or lift a leg. Because, after all, a puppy cannot be 'wrong' for having the urge to urinate or eliminate. 

2. Your prep (as discussed above) should allow you to exit with your Pom quickly, but carry him if you must. 

3. As you head to the area and as your Pom is doing the deed, repeat a chosen word or phrase so that he can make an association with his actions. Many owners use 'bathroom' or 'piddy potty'.

4. Bring your Pom outside on the schedule as mentioned and before and after each walk. If you are heading out into the yard to offer some outdoor exercise, bring him to the bathroom area first. 
sable-pomeranian
Bambi, at 3 months old
Photo courtesy of Lisy
5. Allow your Pom a good 15 minutes to find the perfect spot within the designated area, and for his bowel and bladder muscles to relax.

As a pup matures, he will be able to release his needs much faster, but puppies can take a while.

If you do not allow for this time, and you go back into the house too early, your Pom may very well be ready to pee or poo soon after he's back inside. 

6. If your Pom pees and seems to be done, offer the reward treat right away. Give praise at the same time as you give the treat.

The praise will be the word 'good' along with your chosen word for bathroom trips. So, for example, "Good piddy potty".

If you are not sure if he is done, offer the reward and allow him the rest of the time window to see if he also needs to poo.
If he has pee'd, and seems to be sniffing around to poo, hold off on the treat so that he is not interrupted. But then give it to him as soon as the session is complete. 

7. If there are any accidents in the house, it is important to clean the area with a enzyme cleanser. If you only use soap and water it will not eliminate trace odors. You will not be able to smell them. But, it will be akin to 'This is the bathroom area!' being announced to your puppy or dog. 

We like Pet Stain & Odor Miracle Enzyme Cleaner, as it is a very effective cleanser for both pee and poo. 
Marking - Marking is a common issue with all dogs breeds. You will know it is marking and not a house training issue if your Pom always does this in the same spot and does not fully empty his/her bladder, only spraying out just a bit. To learn more about this, you may wish to read our Marking section.
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