Getting a new puppy is always an occasion for joy, but for first-timers, it can also be stressful. Of course, you want to get everything right, so that you and your new best friend can enjoy many happy years together, and that means training your puppy to become a good canine citizen. Before you get going on obedience training, though, start with house training.
How It’s Done
You might think that house training is going to take forever, but the reality is that if you follow these twelve basic steps, you’ll get the job done quickly – probably in just a few weeks.
1. Be Consistent
There is more than one way of house training a puppy. Just make sure that whatever approach you take, you stick with it.
2. Have a Routine
Dogs are happiest when they know what to expect, and what’s expected of them. So set specific times for meals. Then, about half an hour after your puppy has eaten, put him outside, and wait until he’s done his business. Then bring him back in.
3. Be Watchful
Puppies need to be closely supervised, especially during house training. You should keep your puppy with you, and keep an eye out for signs that he needs to go potty (walking in circles is a tip-off).
4. Don’t Ask for Too Much Too Soon
A puppy is not going to be able to control his bladder or bowels for very long. In fact, when you first bring your puppy home (usually at around 8 weeks of age), you can expect that he’ll need to go outside every couple of hours. As he matures, he’ll have more control.
5. Plan for Frequent Trips Outdoors
If you can, take your puppy outdoors hourly, at least for the first few days. This way, you’ll dramatically reduce the chances of accidents in the house, and you’ll also be increasing the number of opportunities you have to reinforce the idea that you want him to do his business outside.
6. Separate Potty Time from Play Time
Don’t hang around outdoors once the potty break is over – bring the puppy inside right away. You can go right back out to play in a few minutes if you like, but what you’re trying to do is reinforce the idea that the yard is where he’s supposed to pee and poop.
7. Pick a Spot
You’ll have greater success if you choose just one place in the yard for potty trips (it will make cleaning up easier, too). Always lead the puppy to one spot. His nose will tell him that this is the right place.
8. Pick a Phrase
When you take the puppy to the spot you’ve chosen, tell him “Go potty,” or another phrase you’ve chosen. Eventually, he’ll go to his special spot in the yard just by being told, without needing to be led.
9. Make Good Things Happen
Praise your puppy and give him a treat once you’re back in the house – not while he’s doing his business in the yard. You don’t want him to think he’s being praised for peeing or pooping; otherwise, he’s not going to understand why he’s not praised when he does it in the house. What you’re teaching him is that if he does his business outside, something good will happen when get gets back indoors.
10. Don’t Feed Before Bed
Two hours before it’s time to turn in for the night, take away the water dish, and don’t offer any treats. This way, the chances of accidents during the night can be reduced.
11. Use a Crate
When you can’t be at home, put your puppy in a crate. Most dogs are reluctant to eliminate where they sleep. Just make sure that the crate isn’t so big that the puppy decides that one area is for sleeping, and another for eliminating. Before crating, make sure he gets a potty trip out to the yard, and when you get back, take him outside again.
12. Never Punish
Don’t punish your puppy for accidents. Some dogs take a bit longer than others to house train, but if you punish, you run the risk of the puppy trying to hide his mistakes from you.
The Final Word
House training a puppy takes a bit of time and effort, but it needs to be done. Just be consistent, praise and reward your puppy, and you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised at how quickly it can be accomplished