There is a process to house training your puppy. You need to follow a routine and be consistent. Compare puppy house training to potty training a toddler. Toddlers wear diapers to do their “business” and parents happily change one dirty diaper for a clean one. We do not get angry or upset at the child because they are “learning” and they do not have adequate bowel or bladder control. Well, the same is true of your puppy. We have a puppy who has been eliminating where ever he is when the need arises and a mother dog takes care of the clean-up. Now we have brought this cute, adorable puppy into our home and assume he will understand the concept of eliminating outdoors. When learning anything new, it takes time and during that time accidents will happen. The secret to successful house training – it’s all about training – consistency, patience and understanding, stay positive. Remember, your puppy is learning.
First let’s start with supplies you will need:
- Cleaning Enzymes – that remove the odor because accidents happen.
- A Crate or an X-Pen – most dogs/puppies will not eliminate in their living space.
- A Leash – to take puppy safely outdoors.
- Good Treats – one special type reserved only for appropriate elimination (cheese, hot dogs).
- A Healthy Balanced Diet – always feed a good, balanced diet. The better quality of food the better health your puppy will have and eliminations will be fewer.
The first step is to determine when it is most appropriate to take your puppy outside to eliminate. Most dogs will need to eliminate approximately 15 – 30 minutes after eating or drinking water, immediately upon waking up and after play or exercise.
The second step is to establish a designated potty area in your yard. This spot is only to be used for eliminating. When you take your pup outside, always on a leash, take him immediately to the designated area. Wait for him to eliminate before allowing him to roam around, play or start any other activity.
If permitted to roam around or play without first eliminating, he will eliminate in an inappropriate area. As your puppy grows this will not be such an issue, however, as a puppy learning, it is best to stay consistent and keep one area designated as the potty spot. This will also reinforce to your puppy what the potty spot represents.
If you are unable to directly supervise your puppy or are not at home, it is best to confine him to a safe spot. If your puppy is crate trained he can be placed in there. If he is not crate trained an X-Pen may be of use. This is a metal frame which you make into an octagon shaped pen where your puppy is safely confined but has room to walk around.
Should your puppy eliminate in his space, do NOT punish or reprimand him. This could cause your puppy to become frightened of you, mistrust you or cause problems with house training. Remember puppies are learning bowel and bladder control, they are unable to control this for extended periods of time. Some problems that could arise are coprophagia (puppy consumes is own feces), bladder infections from puppies with holding their urine, bowel obstructions. These are some of the more severe problems, but you do not want your puppy to become fearful of eliminating when needed. Another thing to think about is the amount of time you left the puppy alone, was he able to wait for that length of time? Did you allow him to relieve himself completely prior to being left alone? More often than not, it was not the puppy’s fault an accident happened.
If you find your puppy eliminating in an inappropriate spot, again, do not punish or reprimand, do not yell or scare the puppy. In a regular tone voice interrupt the behavior and try to encourage him to follow you to the door outside. If you need to carry him outside to get there quickly, do so, but try to get the puppy to follow you so he learns of the location of the potty spot and can get there himself.
The fourth step is always use positive reinforcement of praise and rewards for eliminating at the potty area. The most important element of house training (or any training) is the reward for the appropriate behavior.
Finally, bringing it all together, set your puppy up for success. Develop a schedule and stick to it.
- Feed a balanced, nutritious diet. Keep on a feeding schedule. Note when your puppy needs to eliminate after eating (approximately 15 – 30 minutes).
- Keep puppy confined when unable to be supervised or if you are not at home.
- Take puppy out for elimination to the potty area immediately after playing, exercise, waking up or as soon as you get home.
- Learn to recognize your puppy’s signals such as sniffing the floor, walking in circles, whining, or staring at you.
- Accidents will happen – never punish, reprimand or yell at your puppy.
- Always lavish with praise and treats for appropriate elimination.
Your dog will enjoy learning when you are positive, enthusiastic and offer him rewards he enjoys. Your dog lives for the pay-off and if the pay-off is positive, trust, respect and the bond between you two will grow.