Puppy house training tips: The USA has more dogs than any other country by a lot, almost twice as many as Brazil in second place. People often cite their dogs among their oldest friends. Sarah Silverman considered her dog, Duck, to be her longest relationship.
Raising a dog from puppyhood is a unique opportunity to form that lasting connection. Potty training a puppy is a different story. These 10 tips will help make your job a little easier.
1. Start Smart
Don’t set yourself up to fail.
You have to work with the dog you have not the dog you’ve heard of. Tiny puppies are not capable of controlling their bowels or bladders. Delay house training until your puppy is 12-16 weeks old.
Conversely, if your puppy comes to you at 12 weeks old and has been pooping and peeing in a cage, his behavior may be set. It will take more time to housebreak a puppy with bad habits.
2. Establish Routine
Adapting an animal to a human’s agenda requires an intentional approach. Your puppy needs a routine.
Puppies have growing stomachs and need small amounts of food 3 or 4 times a day. Put quality food out at the same time every day, and put it away between meals. Knowing when your puppy ate will help you determine when he’ll need to potty.
A puppy’s age is a good indicator of how long it can hold its waste. Figure about an hour per month of age, up to a year. By then you’ll have a more reasonable walking schedule.
If you find that your puppy is not able to hold it for an appropriate amount of time, talk to your vet. It might be a sign of a medical problem.
3. Be Consistent
Once you’ve figured out what routine works best for you, be consistent. Take your puppy out first thing every morning. Take him out right before bed every night.
More than likely, you’ll be out in your yard every couple hours.
When your puppy wakes up, take him out. After he eats or drinks, take him out. After he plays, after he chews on a bone, after he gets excited, take him out every time.
Puppies tend to eliminate 15 minutes after stimulation. Give him a chance to do it right.
You’ll also need to dedicate a part of the yard to toileting and go to that spot every time. The scent sets off your dog’s instinctual behaviors. Stay with your pup outside to keep him on task.
Try to speak the same words every time you’re taking care of business. Soon enough you’ll be able to ask your puppy if he needs to “go outside” before he ends up going on your rug.
If you’re feeling especially Pavlovian, you can hang a bell on the door used to take your dog outside. Have him ring the bell every time it’s potty time and praise him liberally for his accomplishment.
4. Be Generous
A generous reward system is the linchpin of successful potty training. Rewards can also help with obedience training. Learn more about that.
Praise your puppy and offer treats when he’s eliminated appropriately. The trick is to do it before you go back inside. This provides an immediate positive association instead of a delayed one.
Don’t get too excited and congratulate your puppy before he’s finished, though. If he’s interrupted, he might run back inside before he gets the job done.
5. Get Ready for Bed
A true puppy parent is forged in the crucible of nighttime. Puppies, like babies, don’t care about your beauty rest and will wake you up throughout the night to meet their needs.
To give yourself a fighting chance, restrict evening drinking. Put the water bowl away 2 hours before bedtime.
When your puppy does wake you up, don’t turn on all the lights, and don’t engage him in play. Take him out and then put him back to bed.
If you find that many accidents are happening at night, you may need to be more proactive about waking up. You don’t want your dog to get used to having filth in his space.
6. Know the Signs
A dog has certain telltale potty signs. Your puppy might start whining or barking for no reason, scratching the door, or circling.
If you’ve implemented bell training, you’re all set. Just wait for the bell to ring.
7. Stay Close
One of the biggest mistakes new owners make when house training a puppy is giving him too much real estate. Open up the rooms of your house gradually as your puppy has fewer accidents. If he regresses, reign his territory back in.
Use your leash inside to keep your puppy close by. You want to be able to monitor behavior, so you can act immediately when you need to.
8. Use a Crate
Crates are helpful for potty training due to the natural instinct a dog has not to poop where it sleeps. Because dogs are den animals, they welcome some confinement.
Choose a crate that is only big enough for your dog to circle in and lie down. Some crates have dividers that are adjustable as the need for space increases. Make sure that your dog has access to water if you’ll be using the crate for more than 2 hours at a time.
Don’t take your puppy outside, give him a treat, and then immediately return him to his crate, as this can feel like a punishment. You want only positive connotations with potty training.
If the crate is becoming a regular spot for soiling, you may have to abandon it. It might be too big or it might be an old habit from before your puppy lived with you.
9. Expect Accidents
Accidents are an uncontrollable part of the process, but you can control your reaction to them. Don’t scold your puppy or punish him. Don’t drag him back later and rub his nose in the mess.
A scared puppy will poop in the house more discreetly.
If you catch him in the act, you can interrupt him with a clap or use your potty training phrase. Then help your pup outside and praise him for finishing in his potty spot.
Clean the mess completely so your dog won’t return to that spot the next time he needs to go. There are enzymatic cleaners that can eradicate the smell.
10. Get a Sitter
If you will be gone for more than 4 or 5 hours a day, you need to have someone relieve your puppy until he’s at least 8 months old. Minimizing crate accidents is crucial for success.
A Note About Potty Training a Puppy On Paper
Some people choose to use puppy pads or newspaper to train their puppies. If your ultimate goal is to have your dog housebroken, this may prolong your efforts and establish a preference for peeing on paper.
You Can Do It
Potty training a puppy is a lot of work, but you can do it! And the reward is immeasurable. If you remain consistent and stick to the plan, you’ll be on to puppy bliss in no time.
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*Top photo credit: Marko Blaževi?