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Housetraining a puppy requires time,
vigilance, patience and commitment. Following the procedures outlined
below, you can minimize house soiling incidents, but virtually every puppy
will have an accident in the house (more likely several). Expect this Ė
itís part of raising a puppy. The more consistent you are in following the
basic housetraining procedures, the faster your puppy will learn
acceptable behavior. It may take several weeks to housetrain your puppy,
and with some of the smaller breeds, it might take longer.
- Like babies, puppies do best on a
regular schedule. Take your puppy outside frequently, at least
every two hours, and immediately after he wakes up from a nap, after
playing and after eating.
- Praise your puppy lavishly every
time he eliminates outdoors. You can even give him a treat. You must
praise him and give him a treat immediately after heís finished
eliminating, not after he comes back inside the house. This step is
vital, because rewarding your dog for eliminating outdoors is the only
way heíll know thatís what you want him to do.
- Choose a location not too far
from the door to be the bathroom spot. Always take your puppy, on a
leash, directly to the bathroom spot. Take him for a walk or play with
him only after he has eliminated. If you clean up an accident in the
house, take the soiled rags or paper towels and leave them in the
bathroom spot. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the
place he is supposed to eliminate. While your puppy is eliminating, use
a word or phrase, like "go potty," that you can eventually use before he
eliminates to remind him of what heís supposed to be doing.
- If possible, put your puppy on a
regular feeding 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 heíll eliminate at
consistent times as well. This makes housetraining easier for both of
Donít give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house. He
should be watched at all times when he is indoors. You can tether him to
you with a six-foot leash, or use baby gates, to keep him in the room
where you are. Watch for signs that he needs to eliminate, like sniffing
around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately take him
outside, on a leash, to his bathroom spot. If he eliminates, praise him
lavishly and reward him with a treat.
When youíre unable to watch your puppy at all
times, he should be confined to an area small enough that he wonít want to
eliminate there. It should be just big enough for him to comfortably
stand, lie down and turn around in. This area could be a portion of a
bathroom or laundry room, blocked off with boxes or baby gates. Or you may
want to crate train your puppy and use the crate to confine him (see
our Crate Training Guide). If your puppy has spent several hours in
confinement, when you let him out, take him directly to his bathroom spot
and praise him when he eliminates.
Expect your puppy to have an accident in the
house Ė itís a normal part of housetraining a puppy.
- When you catch him in the act of
eliminating in the house, do something to interrupt him, like make a
startling noise (be careful not to scare him). Immediately take him to
his bathroom spot, praise him and give him a treat if he finishes
- Donít punish your puppy for
eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, itís too late to
administer a correction. Do nothing but clean it up. Rubbing your
puppy's nose in it, taking him to the spot and scolding him, or any
other punishment or discipline, will only make him afraid of you or
afraid to eliminate in your presence. Animals donít understand
punishment after the fact, even if itís only seconds later. Punishment
will do more harm than good.
- Cleaning the soiled area is very
important because puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in
areas that smell like urine or feces .
Itís extremely important that you
use the supervision and confinement procedures outlined above to
minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to
eliminate frequently in the house, heíll get confused about where heís
supposed to eliminate which will prolong the housetraining
under six months of age cannot be expected to control his bladder for more
than a few hours at a time. If you have to be away from home for more than
four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a
puppy. If youíre already committed to having a puppy and have to be away
from home for long periods of time, youíll need to train your puppy to
eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing so
can prolong the process of teaching him to eliminate outdoors. Teaching
your puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface
preference, meaning that he may, even in adulthood, eliminate on any
newspaper he finds lying around the house.
When your puppy must be left alone
for long periods of time, confine him to an area with enough room for a
sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the
area designated as the elimination place, you can either use newspapers or
a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container, like a childís
small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog litter products at a
pet supply store. If you clean up an accident in the house, take the
soiled rags or paper towels, and put them in the designated elimination
place. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the place
where he is supposed to eliminate.