Housebreaking Your Puppy

If you have a new puppy, chances are you are working on “housebreaking”. For many puppy owners, this can be a dreaded and frustrating experience as your new furry friend seems to piddle on every square inch of floor in your house. But fear not! There are many simple steps you can take to speed up the training process and make this phase a thing of the past!

1.Crate Training

Crate Training can be an invaluable training tool as it teaches puppies that they do not need to eliminate the exact moment they have the urge. They have the capacity to hold it for a little while until the time and place is appropriate. In this sense, crating helps encourage bladder and bowel control in puppies because dogs naturally do not like to soil their sleeping areas. Ensure the crate is not too large as to allow the opportunity for your puppy to eliminate in one part and still rest away from the mess. A general rule of thumb is to have it large enough that she can enter, turn around comfortably, sit, lay and stand. Keep in mind that puppies do have a smaller bladder than adult dogs so do not crate for several hours without any pee breaks – messes will inevitably happen if you try this which may impair your progress. Puppies should be able to sleep through the night in their crate, and for a couple hours at a time during the day. Please remember that the crate should be a safe place for your puppy and that your puppy requires LOTS of socialization and interaction with you throughout the whole day. You should only crate your puppy when you cannot keep a close eye on her (for example, when you are making dinner). If you are consistently away from her for 8-10 hours per day, daycare can be a fantastic way for your puppy to socialize with other dogs while under the watchful eye of staff.

2. Puppy Pads

Puppy pads help teach your puppy to go in a specific place – all the while protecting your floor! Ensure there are several puppy pads placed on the floor (especially near the door or in places where accidents have happened), overlapping each other. As soon as your puppy starts to sniff around to find the perfect place to potty, pick her up and place her on the nearest puppy pad. Do this consistently every time you catch her eliminating in your house. *DO NOT get mad at her or try to discipline your puppy for going potty in the house! You must *train* her to go in the appropriate place; if she hasn’t learned this yet it is because of your lack of attention to the matter and not her inability to learn. Getting angry with her may only make her fearful of the act of eliminating – not the place. If it happens, clean it up, spray on a disinfectant to remove the smell, and forget about it. Once she has mastered the puppy pad training, move the pads closer and closer to the door until one is finally outside the door. Then begin showing her to the grass to do her business.

3. Schedule

Puppies must go potty every hour or two. At a young age, it is like clockwork. Ensure she goes outside upon waking, after breakfast, after any playtime or naps, after dinner, and every hour to hour and a half in between. Your puppy may need to go in the middle of the night until she is a bit older.

4. Praise

When your puppy goes potty on the puppy pads and then eventually outside, make your puppy feel like she is the greatest thing in the whole world! Act over-the-top excited that she went outside. Clap, praise, use a clicker (if you are clicker training), and give a treat immediately after she finishes her business. Keep in mind that you want your puppy to learn to go on schedule. If you take her outside and you want her to go potty, walk her to the same designated spot each time and repeat a key word (Number 1 or 2, Hurry Up, PeePee, or Quickly, for example) until she does what you ask. Then reward. Go back inside so she knows that the word is associated to the action. If you want to play with her or go for a walk, return to the house after she does her business, play for a minute or so with her inside, and then take her for her walk so she doesn’t confuse the two activities.

5. Patience

Puppy housetraining takes time. It varies with every dog. Sometimes it can be mastered in a couple weeks while it takes other dogs a couple of months. Stick to these principles and be patient! It will not last forever if you are diligent and train her properly.