How to Housetrain Your PuppyLast updated: August 02, 2016
Housetraining can be a daunting task, but with a few training aids and a large commitment on your part, you can succeed. Just like parenting, you will need to be patient, vigilant and most important, consistent!
Set a PatternJust like with a new baby, it's best to have a schedule and stick to it. Your puppy will quickly learn that there are times to eat, sleep, play, and eliminate.
For the most part, a puppy can control his bladder for about one hour for every month he is old. So if you have a two-month old puppy, he can hold it for about two hours. If you wait longer than this to give him a bathroom break, you will be setting him up for an accident. If you work outside the home, arrange for someone to give your puppy his breaks.
Give Frequent BreaksBegin by taking your puppy outside immediately after he wakes up and at least every two hours thereafter. He will probably need to go during and after playing, and you will want to take him outside after eating or drinking too.
Pick Your SpotDetermine where you want your outdoor "bathroom" spot to be and then guide your puppy to this spot using a leash. While your puppy is going potty, use a word or phrase like "go potty," that you can eventually use before he eliminates to remind him what to do.
Praise and RewardAfter he is finished, reward him with praise, a treat, a long walk or some playtime. Remember to do this consistently and immediately after he's finished and when you are still outdoors. This step is very important because it's the only way he'll know what you expect. Make sure he is finished before you reward him. Praising him too soon may excite him enough to stop in the middle of his business and then complete the job when he's back in the house.
Make a Feeding ScheduleEstablish a regular feeding schedule for your puppy. What goes into a puppy on a schedule comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that he'll eliminate at consistent times as well.
Prepare a Bedtime RoutineYou can reduce the need for your puppy to have to relieve himself in the middle of the night by picking up his water bowl about two and a half hours before bedtime. Most puppies can sleep for approximately seven hours without having to eliminate.
If your puppy does wake you up in the middle of the night, just quietly take him out to do his business and return him to his bed. It helps to turn on as few lights as possible and not to talk to him or play with him. If you do, he might think it is time to play and won't want to go back to sleep.
VigilanceWhenever your puppy is indoors, you will need to keep a watchful eye for signs that your puppy needs to eliminate. Some of these signs are barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around, or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take him outside to his bathroom spot. If he eliminates outside, give him lots of praise and reward him with a treat.
TetheringDuring the housetraining process it's helpful to tether (Poly Braided Lead) your puppy to a piece of furniture while inside to more effectively keep an eye on him. Use a six foot length of rope so he has plenty of room to roam, but he is not able to get out of your sight.
Keep your puppy on a leash in the yard, as well. Your yard should be treated like any other room in your house. When your puppy has become reliably housetrained, then you can give your puppy some freedom in the house and in the yard.
ConfinementWhen you're unable to watch your puppy at all times, he should be confined to an area small enough that he won't want to eliminate there. This space should be just big enough for him to comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around in. You can use gates to block off part of a utility room, bathroom or laundry room for this purpose.
You can also crate train your puppy. When using this method, be humane as possible. If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, you'll need to take him directly to his bathroom spot as soon as you let him out, and praise him when he eliminates.
Accidents HappenAccidents will happen. It is a normal part of the housetraining process. If you catch your puppy in the act of soiling in the house, interrupt him. Say "OUTSIDE!" and immediately grab the leash and take him to his outdoor potty spot. Praise him and give him a treat only if he finishes his business outside.
Clean to Eliminate OdorsIt won't do any good for you to punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. In fact, it will do more harm. Just clean up the soiled area. If you rub his nose in it and scold him, you will just make him afraid of you or eliminating in your presence.
You will have to clean the area really well and use an odor eliminator (Equalizer™ Carpet Stain & Odor Eliminator) to keep your puppy from soiling in that same area.
It's so important to be consistent and vigilant. If you follow these steps, you will have fewer accidents. If you allow your puppy to have a lot of accidents, you will only confuse him about where he is supposed to go and therefore prolong housetraining.
Paper TrainingIf you must leave your puppy alone for long periods of time, confine him to an area with enough room to sleep and play, along with a separate place to eliminate. Use training pads (Pooch Pads™) with a floor protector in this area for your convenience.
If you clean up an accident in the house, put the soiled rags or paper towels in the designated elimination area. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the place where he is supposed to eliminate.
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The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.