The Secret to House Training Puppies
The three P’s – Prevention, Praise and Perseverance!
Puppy House Training Rule 1 – Prevention
Just like a brand new human baby needs diapers for the first few years of it’s life, puppies need a place to pee and poop until their little puppy bladders can hold it like an adult dog. Puppies have poor bladder and bowel control – having to pee every few hours, and poop several times a day. Keeping your puppy in an area with quick access to newspapers, a puppy litter box, puppy pee pads or the back yard is essential in the first few months of your house training regimen. Accidents are inevitable, so don’t let puppy romp unsupervised in areas where cleanup is difficult.
Play with puppy where there is no carpeting or furniture that can be soiled – areas where flooring is linoleum, tile or well-sealed hardwood are best. NEVER give puppy free reign of the house – even when supervised. Watch carefully for signs of impending peeing or pooping such as sniffing the floor, moving in circles, or sudden disappearing acts.
If you catch puppy in the act – DO NOT SCOLD! – simply move puppy outdoors or to his designated “bathroom area” – then clean up the soiled area, using an enzymatic cleaner specially created for pet odor cleanup. You must completely eliminate the odor – or puppy may smell it later and think it’s a good place to go again. If puppy finished doing his business where he is supposed to, praise him lavishly! You can also offer him a tiny tidbit of his regular kibble food as a reward.
Always feed your puppy a high-quality puppy food, and stick to the same food at all times. Feed your puppy on a regular schedule, and avoid giving puppy table scraps or other such tidbits and treats intended for humans. Don’t switch between brands of food – puppy’s tummy is sensitive and delicate. Human food or sudden changes in diet will likely give puppy diarrhea, which will make your house training attempts very difficult.
After puppy eats, take him outdoors to the area where you want him to eliminate. Come up with a command that you will use when you want him to do his business. Whether it’s “hurry up”, “Let’s do it”, “Do your business”, or whatever you choose, be consistent and use the same command every time. If possible, remain there until puppy completely eliminates, then follow with lots of praise and a small treat of his regular puppy kibble.
If you haven’t already done so, your new puppy should be taken to your veterinarian for a well-puppy check up. This will ensure that your puppy is in good health and is free from conditions that might hinder your housebreaking efforts, such as a bladder infection, parasites, fleas, etc. Your veterinarian will likely want to vaccinate and de-worm your puppy (unless your breeder has already done so) and put him on a regular schedule of vaccinations, de-worming, flea protection and heartworm preventive medications.
You should spend as much time with your puppy as you possibly can, but when you can’t directly supervise your puppy, you should confine your puppy to a comfortable crate or small pen. You should also place puppy there at night when the family is asleep. Your puppy’s crate or pen should be his oasis – NEVER use a crate or pen as punishment.
DO NOT confine puppy for excessive lengths of time. Puppies thrive on human companionship and can suffer greatly from separation anxiety, which can occur when you leave him alone too long or too often. In addition to being cruel, long periods of isolation can cause your puppy to misbehave by chewing, digging, barking excessively, hyperactivity and even harming himself.
The puppy’s crate should be used for dog naps, overnight and for short periods of time when you must leave the house. If you have to be away all day, you can hire a caring pet sitter to drop in on your puppy to provide a break for play, companionship, elimination and exercise. Better yet, consider putting puppy in a Dog Daycare during the day where puppy can play with other dogs and people. Many Dog Daycares and Pet Sitters will assist in the early training process for your puppy – be sure to ask!
Give puppy plenty of outdoor exercise! It’s good for both you – and puppy – and gives your puppy lots of opportunity to pee and poop outdoors, where you want the activity to eventually be limited to. Weather permitting, your puppy should be taken for a short walk or to play in your securely fenced back yard at least twice a day for 20 minutes or more. Family members can take turns exercising your puppy, or you can all participate at once.
Puppy Housebreaking Rule 2 – Praise
Your puppy loves you and wants to make you happy. You are his world! Lavish him with praise when he does good, and you’ll soon have a do-gooder puppy! When it comes to house training your puppy, a little praise can go a long way. Whenever puppy eliminates in the right place, make sure he knows that you are very proud of him. Say “Good Dog”, “Way to Go”, “Woo Hoo”, “Yippee” or whatever you feel comfortable with – and do it with feeling!
Give puppy a tiny treat of his regular dog kibble at the same time, and be sure to reward him IMMEDIATELY after he does his business. Don’t worry what the neighbors will think of you jumping up and down and whooping like a goofball – THEY don’t have to shampoo your carpets! This goes for any behavior you want your puppy to repeat. Praise and a small treat are a great way to positively reinforce your puppy’s behavior.
Puppy House Training (Housebreaking) Rule #3 – Perseverance
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your puppy won’t be house trained in a week. Give it time and be consistent. Make sure all members of the family have been trained in the art of puppy housebreaking, and make sure everyone follows the plan to avoid confusing your puppy.
In the event that you are unable to successfully house train your puppy, despite your best efforts, please consider consulting a professional dog trainer or dog behavior specialist. They can help you determine where your efforts are going wrong, or suggest and help you implement other more intensive methods for housebreaking your puppy.
Remember the commitment you made to your puppy when you invited him to become a part of your family. You wouldn’t give away a baby or child for peeing on the carpet, so why should your “baby” be any different? Puppies and even older dogs CAN be housetrained! It just takes time, effort and consistency from every member of the family.
- Supervise your puppy at all times and keep him out of areas you do not want him to go.
- Take him outdoors frequently to do his business.
- Clean up accidents immediately and thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner specially formulated as a pet stain and odor remover.
- Confine your puppy to a crate or pen when you can’t be with him.
- Give puppy lots of companionship and exercise.
- Feed a quality puppy food on a tight schedule and don’t alternate or change his brand of food.
- Praise your puppy lavishly when he does good!
- DO NOT SCOLD HIM if he has an accident.
- Be patient and consistent. Your puppy is worth the effort!
- If all else fails – consult a professional dog trainer for assistance.
If you follow these tips and give it enough time, you’ll have a house trained puppy that will provide your family with many years of love, joy, laughter and companionship!