If you’ve just brought home a new puppy, potty training is
probably one of the first tasks on your list.
Unfortunately, puppies aren’t born knowing that eliminating inside
the house is wrong. It looks like a safe and convenient place to them! The key
is to have patience and understand that each puppy picks up on the
housebreaking process at his or her own pace.
Check out the slideshow for 7 trainer-approved tips that can help make the training process easier on
both of you.
1. Start With a Crate
Instead of giving your puppy full run
of the house, limit him to areas where you can observe him at all times or
keep him at your side on a 4- to 6-foot leash. When you can’t watch him, make
him comfortable in a crate, where he has just enough room to turn
around and lie down. Since dogs innately want to keep their own space clean, he’ll have an
incentive to wait to go outside. Provide treats and puppy-safe toys so your
puppy associates the crate with positive rewards.
2. Follow the 15-Minute Rule
Stay on top of your puppy’s schedule. Puppies are most likely to
need to go to the bathroom within 15 minutes of eating, drinking, playing,
exercising or waking up from a nap. After any of these activities, you should
give your pup a chance to go to the bathroom. As a rule of thumb, puppies can
hold their bladders one hour for every month of age, plus one. So, if your
puppy is 2 months old, he can usually wait up to three hours. But this varies from dog
to dog, and a puppy should be taken out more frequently than his maximum hold
time. If he seems to be having trouble holding it in for a reasonable amount of
time for his age, consult your veterinarian.
3. Reward for a Job Well Done
When your puppy gets it right, let him
know it! Each time your puppy needs a bathroom break, take him outside to the
same elimination area. If he does his business within five minutes,
immediately praise him and give him treats. Don’t put him back in his crate
right away because that can feel like punishment to him. Instead, give him a
10-minute playtime in a larger supervised area. If your puppy does not go to
the bathroom outside, calmly place him back in his confinement area. Give it 15
minutes, then try taking him to his outdoor elimination area again.
4. Accidents Happen
Puppies are still learning, and
there will be accidents. Never punish your puppy for accidentally going in the
house. That will only teach the puppy to fear the idea of eliminating when
people are around — and he’ll likely still go in the house, when you’re not
looking. If you catch him in the act, interrupt him with an “oops” and bring
him to the proper elimination area outside. Have supplies ready to clean up
after him if he goes indoors, including an enzymatic cleaner so you can remove
the smell and avoid the possibility he’ll sniff out the spot in question and go
5. Expand Space Gradually
Once your puppy is staying accident-free in the confined area, you can gradually expand his space privileges by
introducing him to a new room in your home. If he goes another week without
accidents in the new space, you can introduce him to the next room. If he
starts having accidents again, return to confining him to spaces where he was successful. Keep to his regular schedule and rewards for doing the right thing
throughout the housebreaking process.
6. Get Out of Bed
You may need to get up out of bed and take your puppy
outside multiple times during the night. Don’t push him to hold his bladder
past his age or ability. If he does have accidents overnight, it’s a clear
signal that you will have to take him out more often. Although dogs want to keep their
personal area clean, the more he gets used to having messes there, the more
comfortable he’ll become with it — and that will make your housebreaking job
that much harder.
7. Skip Puppy Pads and Newspapers
Although it is possible to
transition dogs away from them, using puppy pads or newspapers to designate an accepted
elimination area can make the housetraining process more complicated. I often
work with dogs who were trained to go on pads as puppies but became confused
when they weren’t allowed to do so as adults. Commit to taking your puppy to an outside elimination area from the very start.