Housetraining Your Puppy

A puppy on a leash being walked down a path

Dogs of any age can be housetrained, although puppies learn far faster than older dogs. Most owners tolerate puppy-sized mistakes because puppies are so charming, but adult-sized deposits are considerably more of a problem.

It takes a bit of trial and error before most puppies get the hang of housetraining, but a little patience will go a very long way.

Pups need a bathroom break after every meal, nap, and playtime. Depending on its age and breed, most dogs eat several times per day. Prevent accidents by anticipating when the puppy needs a break.

Create a Schedule

Base potty breaks on the pup's age, activity level, and mealtimes.

Your pup has a baby-size bladder and a limited capacity to "hold it." In general, a two-month-old puppy needs a break about every two hours. At three months, every four hours should be adequate.

It varies with breed, with huge and enormous types having somewhat higher capacity and toy breeds having slightly less. Here's what to expect in general:

  • 4-month-old pups can wait five hours
  • 5-month-olds can wait about six hours
  • 7-month-old pups should be able to wait about eight hours.

Choose a Location

Scent cues help dogs remember what's expected of them. Whether you set up an inside toilet with newspaper, pee pads, or a doggie litter box, or choose an outdoor location, take the dog to the same site every time.

Concentrate on the Act

Keep the dog on a leash until it's doing something useful; otherwise, it could just play and then have an accident inside. As a reward for eliminating, remove the leash for some fun.

Name the Deed

Say a cue phrase that specifies the activity when the dog squats. Make sure that everyone in your household utilizes the same cue. Reward the puppy for its hard work with plenty of praise, play, or a little treat that won't alter its usual diet.

Confine and Supervise

Concealment can be used to deliver a rapid lesson to puppies who don't want to be in an area containing their own waste. A tiny room is ineffective because a dog can defecate in one corner while sleeping in the other. If the dog isn't productive after 15 minutes of rest, put him in the crate for 15 minutes and try again.

If the dog urinates or defecates in the cage, the mess is contained in an easily cleaned area. For a short period, the dog will have to live with its error. When given the chance, the puppy will be more likely to empty the following time.

Watch for Warnings

Before they go, puppies smell the ground and move in circles. Pick up the dog if it squats inside, halt the procedure, and transport it to the authorized legal potty place. Give your cue word and applaud when it works in the proper place.

Clean Accidents

Use an odor neutralizer to eliminate the smells that lure your puppy back to the scene of the crime.

Problems and Proofing Behavior

When trying to housetrain a puppy, the most common mistake is shouting at or striking the dog for having an accident. Negative reinforcement trains pups to go when you're not looking or to hide deposits from you, and because dogs love to please people, this teaches them to go when you're not looking.

Frustrating as it might be, try not to get annoyed at your puppy as it's learning where and when to go.

When teaching cause and effect, timing is crucial. The dog will not grasp how your rage is related to the deposit it made five minutes earlier. Verbally disciplining the dog will not function unless it is caught in the act or pointed out within 90 seconds.

People, like dogs, are more driven to work for a bonus than a threat of censure. When the puppy realizes that going in the appropriate area would result in a reward, it will endeavor to prevent accidents in order to please you.

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