House Training Your Puppy
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OK, so you just came home with the cutest, cuddliest, and most beautiful puppy. Now what?
The first and most important thing to do with a new puppy is to begin a routine, and central to that routine will be getting your bundle of joy house trained. As much as you love your new puppy, you won’t love finding mistakes and accidents around every corner. It can seem daunting, but a few key strategies will help you get your pet on the right track to being a well-mannered member of the household!
Eliminate the chance for accidents.
In the early days with your new puppy, you want to avoid the chance for “accidents” to happen. If you never give your puppy the chance to go to the bathroom in your house, he or she won’t even think it’s an option. This means you are going to be taking your puppy outside a lot — and we mean a lot. Puppies pass food and water extremely quickly, and any excitement or activity makes ithappen even faster.
We recommend taking your puppy out every 30 minutes — he or she will definitely need to go. Each time you go out, go to the same spot, use a word that you want to attach to the idea of “going” (potty, pee pee, or even just “go”) and say it a few times. When your puppy relieves him or herself, go crazy with praise, including plenty of “good dogs” and patting and positive reinforcement. Give a treat if your puppy is very food motivated. Then go right back in the house — you want your dog to realize that these trips are for “business.”
As your puppy gets older, you can extend the time between trips outside. You’ll eventually recognize the signs that say “mom and dad, I have to go!”
Get your pooch on a schedule.
We all need a schedule and puppies are no exception. Feed him or her at the same times each day (young puppies will eat multiple times per day, based on your veterinarian’s advice). Walk your puppy within 15-20 minutes of eating, as described above. Don’t vary from the schedule if possible — your puppy will get into the groove very quickly.
Confine your puppy when you aren’t available to supervise.
Puppies need eyes on them at all times. When you're not around, a crate is a great alternative to letting your puppy wander around and get into trouble You can read our article about crate training to learn more. Appropriately sized crates are great because dogs generally don’t like to go to the bathroom where they sleep and even young dogs can usually “hold it” overnight once they’re used to the crate. If your puppy has trouble with this, give the last meal and water a couple of hours before bedtime. Also, don’t leave your puppy in the crate for more than four hours at a time (yep, that means just like with a human baby, you probably will have some overnight walking to do, especially when your puppy is just a couple of months old).
Clean, clean, clean.
Your puppy will make some mistakes and you want to ensure that you clean the affected areas thoroughly. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, so it is best to eliminate odors so they don’t think it’s an acceptable place to do their business. Regular household cleaners won’t do the trick, either. You’ll need an enzymatic cleaner or something specifically designed to remove the smell of urine and feces. Ask your veterinarian for product recommendations.
Reward good behavior, but don’t punish mistakes.
A puppy can’t help going to the bathroom in the house any more than a baby can help going in a diaper. Just like a mom or dad need to change a baby’s diaper frequently, pet parents need toensure their canine baby has adequate opportunities to go outside.
Only correct your dog when you actually catch him or her the act, and when you do, tell your puppy “no” firmly but not angrily. Then take your puppy outside to take care of business. Never get angry or punish a puppy for an accident. Also, don’t reprimand a puppy for something that happened more than a minute in the past because it will just confuse them.
Even a well-trained dog might have the occasional accident triggered by excitement (meeting new people) or fear (thunder, other loud noises). If this happens with a trained older dog, do the same thing as you would with a puppy: firmly say “no” and take your dog outside. If you think your trained dog is having an unusual number of accidents, it could be due to an underlying medical issue and you should talk to your veterinarian.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
1. Choose the Best Potty Training Method for You and Your Puppy
Before you can begin training your new furry friend, you need to decide which puppy potty training method is right for you. According to the American Kennel Club’s Mary Burch, Ph.D., there are three main ways to potty train: dog crate training, paper training or regular (and numerous) outdoor trips.
While the idea of confining your new pet to a crate might sound terrible, it’s actually a highly successful training option, and not something a new pet parent should feel badly about. This method, which requires keeping your dog in her crate until she’s potty trained, is actually inspired by your pup’s natural instincts. Dogs feel safe in small, den-like spaces, so while her dog crate might look little to you, it probably feels quite cozy to her.
If you choose to try crate training, pick a crate that’s just the right size—large enough for your dog to sit, lie down or turn around in comfortably, but small enough that she won’t be able to choose a small area within the crate to use the bathroom. The idea here is to get your generally clean, neat dog to let you know when she needs to go out to use the bathroom. She won’t want to go in the middle of her cozy crate, and she’ll start scratching at the door or whining to signal when it’s time to go out.
This method requires using paper or absorbent potty pads to give your puppy an appropriate place to relieve herself indoors. Dog potty pads can be less than ideal for some pet parents, as one of the places you’re giving the pup the okay to go is in your house. However, if you’re unable to come home at multiple points throughout the work day, this can be a practical option for puppy potty training.
The final method simply requires creating a consistent bathroom break schedule and taking your dog outside frequently to prevent possible indoor accidents. While not possible for all pet parents, if you’re able to be at home during the day with your pup, this can be a good approach. Those trying this tactic should take their pet outside about every two hours. This includes first thing in the morning and last thing at night, as well as at other important points in your schedule together, such as after meals and naps, after time confined to a crate and after playtime.
No matter which method of house training a dog you use, follow these other three tips to ensure success.
Never Hit Your Dog!
No matter how long it takes, it is inhuman to hurt an animal. Some dogs just take longer to train, and almost all dogs have accidents. That does not give anyone the authority to punish them verbally or physically.
Dogs look up to us as members of their pack and give us their whole world. They love us unconditionally and are eager to please us. Abusing them scars them very deeply and develops a negative relationship. Now, we are sure you don’t want your dog to be scared of you and listen to you out of fear, right? No one wants that.
Engage in positive reinforcement and see how much happiness your dog brings into your life!
Did we answer all your questions on "Dog Training"?
A great tip to avoid potty wake up calls in the middle of the night is to put your pup’s water bowl out of reach about two hours before it’s time to go to sleep. Most puppies can sleep for about seven hours without having to go to the bathroom, but this will help reduce the likelihood of them experiencing discomfort through the night or having an accident while you sleep.
Take your puppy for bathroom breaks as soon as she wakes up, after playing or eating, and at least every two hours throughout the day. This ensures your puppy is not struggling to hold it in while inside the house, and she will be less likely to make a mistake out of desperation.
What are your go-to tips for potty training a puppy? Be sure to share them with us on Facebook and Twitter!