Puppy Potty Training: Housebreaking Advice

Puppies learn new skills at different rates. It will take time for your puppy to develop a firm understanding of where it's acceptable to potty and where it is not. It will take time for your pup to consistently understand that all of the house is the den, an area not to be soiled.

Puppies need to relieve themselves frequently, sometimes as often as once an hour when they first come home with you. There will be accidents, especially at first. Never lose your temper at the puppy, and always use simple, consistent one- or two-word commands. If you do not, your pup could become frightened and confused about what you expect.

 

Puppy Potty Training First Steps

 

The first step in puppy potty training requires that you learn the clues that indicate your puppy needs to potty. These clues are: restlessness, sniffing the floor, or returning to a previously soiled spot. Your pup will need to potty about 5-20 minutes after eating, sleeping or playing. When you take your puppy outside to potty, to to the same spot each time and don't play. You want your puppy to focus on one thing only during puppy potty training -- going in the right area. As soon as your puppy potties, praise enthusiastically. While your puppy is going potty, praise very softly so you don't interrupt the behavior. Be enthusiastic after your puppy is done. (What a good puppy!)

While you're puppy potty training, you must keep the puppy close to you always so that the puppy does not have the opportunity to fail. This means starting the puppy out in a small area of the house and following the puppy nonstop. Alternatively, attach one end of a leash to the puppy and the other end to you, so that the puppy is no farther away from you than the end of the leash. This is called tethering and is effective.

When you are not able to watch the puppy, put the puppy into a crate.  If you have a fenced yard and the weather is good, you can put the puppy outside. However putting the puppy outside when you aren't watching means you lose the opportunity to praise. The pup may feel some anxiety about being outside alone and just wait to come back in, then potty. It is always best if you stand there so you can see and praise. The crate is a preferable training tool. A young pup 8-9 weeks old should be in a crate for no more than two hours at a time. A puppy cannot control itself for longer than that, except at night. The older they get the more control they have. This does not include night time when they should be able to hold it after 10 weeks old. They can usually hold it all night at 8-9 weeks old after they get the idea. 

 Accidents During Puppy Potty Training

 

 Instead of punishing a dog for an accident, you do everything you can to prevent indoor accidents. If they happen, ignore them. You don't want to give the dog any attention for this mistake. Simply put the puppy in their crate, or outside, when she's finished, say nothing and clean up the mess thoroughly using an enzymatic cleaner (such as Out or Nature's Miracle). Then redouble your efforts to get the puppy out before there is an accident. Rule of thumb: If you puppy does somethng becasue you weren't watching them, it is YOUR fault. That also applies to destruction of anything.

 

Rubbing Nose?

Don't ever hit a puppy for accidents or anything else for that matter. You'll frighten or confuse the puppy if you do so. Never punish a puppy after the fact. Remember, a puppy thinks it is being punished for whatever it is doing at the time of your correction.

The same thinking applies to rubbing a puppy's nose in his or her mistakes -- don't do it. The pup is not capable of making the reasoning leap that this is an area previously soiled, and that's why you are punishing. Dogs are oriented to the present.

 

What Happens During Training When Your Puppy Does Not Potty? 

If you take your puppy outside and nothing happens, return the puppy to the crate for 5-15 minutes. Then take the puppy outside again for a few minutes. Repeat this cycle until the puppy goes. As soon as that happens, the puppy can stay outside the crate. This kind of routine helps the puppy focus on going when you want the puppy to go.

 

The Leash, Outside and Puppy Potty Training 

As your puppy starts to get the routine, begin training to also go potty while on the leash, in areas other than your yard, and on varied surfaces. When you travel, your puppy will have the confidence and experience to go wherever you need the puppy to go.

You and your dog will make lots of mistakes during this time. Your puppy will do fine as long as you strive to be as consistent as possible. Your occasional training errors and frustrations will not permanently scar your dog. Dogs are quite resilient. And so are you!

 

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