Your puppy wants to please you. They want to do all the things that will produce praise and treats. Unfortunately, puppies don’t come knowing all the confusing guidelines and boundaries of the human world. It’s up to us to find a way to communicate the rules. Patience, consistency, and these 7 proven tricks will help you get the message across. Firm and consistent training will get the job done.
Trick 1: Routine, Routine, Routine!
Like many of us, puppies are creatures of habit. Setting schedules for your puppy during housebreaking is a must. The sooner your pup gets used to eliminating on a regular schedule, the sooner they’ll be housebroken.
The general rule of thumb is that puppies between fourteen weeks and six months of age can hold their bladder one hour for every month they’ve been alive. For example, a three-month-old dog can go three hours between trips out of doors. Keep in mind, “In general, puppies are unable to control their bladders and bowels until twelve weeks of age. If your puppy is younger than that, extra patience is required,” cautions Jenna Stregowski, RVT. At that early stage, confining your pup to a non absorbent surface might be the best bet.
Trick 2: Pick a Bathroom Spot
The scent of a previous trip outside encourages your puppy to take care of business. You can choose one spot in the yard, or on the corner, where your puppy can relieve himself. Lead pup to this area with a leash.
Of course, when a puppy has an accident in the house—and all puppies will—this tendency to return to previously soiled areas will be just a strong. Make sure to thoroughly clean up after accidents. Use odor eliminating enzyme cleaners to discourage marking.
Trick 3: Always Reward, Never Punish
Immediately after your puppy has relieved himself in the proper spot, offer lavish praise. Make a fuss, even if it feels silly. Also offer a tasty treat. They will quickly learn to associate these rewards with the act of elimination. Don’t wait until they go back inside to reward them, since the association won’t be as strong.
When it comes to punishment, puppies can easily become confused. If you catch your puppy soiling the rug, express displeasure. Either by proffering a firm “no” or another clear phrase. Use the same word or words all the time. Then take them directly outside to their bathroom spot.
Don’t, however, yell at your puppy, rub his nose in his waste, or otherwise chastise him. This will only teach pups to be afraid of you, and may cause them to associate relieving themselves with this fear. The result might be that they’ll slink off to some far corner of the house to hide when it’s time to do business.
It is doubly important to not scold your puppy should you discover after the fact that they’ve gone indoors. While the puppy is learning, it’s too late for them to associate elimination with a negative response an hour or even a few minutes later. A punishment late in the game will just cause confusion, potentially leading to setbacks in house training.
Trick 4: Confine Your Puppy
Dogs have an instinctual desire to keep their living space free from their own waste. This is the guiding philosophy behind crate training. If you keep puppy confined in a crate or a small area of the house when you are not around, you will help to encourage your puppy to hold its bladder. Should you choose to crate your puppy, the crate should be just large enough that they can stand, turn around, and lie down. Alternatively, a small area of a bathroom or kitchen can be enclosed with baby gates. Remember that puppies can only wait one hour for every month of age before they will have to relieve themselves. Should they be left in confinement for longer, they’ll have no choice but to go in their crate.
Trick 5: Use the 15 Minute Rule
You should be taking your puppy out for bathroom breaks on a regular schedule, but you will also need to anticipate extra trips outdoors as your puppy becomes used to delaying elimination. Activities such as eating, drinking, playing, or waking from a nap can stimulate your puppy’s need to relieve himself. Take your puppy to their bathroom spot within 15 minutes of these activities, especially during the early days of housetraining.
Trick 6: Pick a Bathroom Command
Dogs respond to simple commands from their owners, and this is as true with relieving themselves as with anything else. Before taking your dog out, calmly tell them “bathroom time” or “let’s go outside.” Use your command consistently at every bathroom break.
Trick 7: Expect Accidents
Your puppy will learn many new things on the road to adulthood, and like any child, they will sometimes misstep. Sometimes your puppy will go in the house. Stregowski says, “Housebreaking may take several months. Don’t give up! Remember that puppies want to please you, they just need to learn how. Be clear with praise, or correct mistakes. In time, you will see results.”
Scaring or punishing your puppy won’t result in housebreaking any sooner, and in fact can result in housetraining delays. Understand that all puppies learn proper bathroom habits at their own rate, some learning more quickly than others.
Enjoy and accept your puppy’s individual nature. Remember that the more calm and self-assured you are, the more respect pup will have for you, and the more they’ll want to please you.
More on Training a Dog
5 Steps to Dog Obedience Training
The 20 Dog Commands to Teach Your Dog
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.