Puppies are curious, playful and full of life, and sometimes these qualities can get the better of them. You might think you have it made if you're training Rascal to use a pee pad and litter box for his potty -- until you come home to find he has removed, attacked and shredded the pad and left his litter box empty. Although the absorbent pads should make life easier for you, the constant cleanup can be a pain. Take a deep breath, then make a plan to combat Rascal's annoying habit.
Tip #1 - Observe your puppy consistently throughout the day so he can't get in trouble. Don't let him out of your sight and, if needed, tether him to you with a leash. If you can't watch him, confine him to a crate for no longer than he can hold his waste, which is usually one hour for each month of age.
Tip #2 - Startle your puppy when you catch him in the act. The moment you catch him pulling the training pad from the litter box, clap your hands loudly to startle him and to stop him in his tracks. Say "no" with a firm tone of voice, and when he stops, show him a chew toy. When he shows interest in the toy, praise him lavishly and give him a treat to reinforce the good behavior. Consistently correct and redirect your puppy in this manner, and eventually he'll understand that the pee pad is not a toy.
Tip #3 - Exercise your puppy mentally and physically, because boredom, lack of attention and pent-up energy can trigger his destructive behavior. Spend time with Rascal, take him for walks, play games with him, set up puppy play dates and practice daily obedience training. Provide food-stuffed dog toys and chew toys so he can entertain himself if you can't play with him.
Tip #4 - Replace the litter box with a commercial pee pad holder. This plastic frame forms a secure anchor that keeps the pad in place and prevents Rascal from removing or shredding it. Alternatively, stop using the pee pads and fill the litter box with an inch of a commercial dog litter.
Tip #5 - Transition from using pee pads to training Rascal to use a designated outdoor potty area. If rascal uses the pee pad to do his business, slowly move it outside to the designated area. Take him to the pad after waking, playing, eating and drinking, and each time you catch him pacing, circling or sniffing. Once he consistently does his business outside, gradually cut the pad with scissors to make it smaller, until you can eventually stop using it.
Warning: Avoid punishing your puppy after finding a shredded pee pad, because he won't be able to associate your anger to his bad behavior and might start fearing you.
By Kimberly Caines
The Humane Society of the United States: Chewing: Housetraining Your Dog or Puppy
The Humane Society of the United States: Chewing: The Whys and Hows of Stopping a Gnawing Problem
ASPCA: Enriching Your Dog's Life
Training Your Shih Tzu; Joan Hustace Walker
Training the Best Dog Ever; Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz and Larry Kay
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.