There are a few simple things to know when training your dog to go in the right place, at the right time. From there, it really is practice makes perfect. It’s a bit of work at first but will pay off in no time.
Firstly, when a puppy is with his mother and littermates, he learns to eliminate away from the sleeping area. We can make use of this natural instinct when housetraining our puppies. Your job will be to teach your puppy where and when to eliminate.
Careful supervision is key!
Supervise your puppy to avoid accidents when your puppy is allowed freedom in the house. Don’t let your puppy develop bad habits! If you can’t supervise your pup, put him in his short-term confinement area (crate, exercise pen or, if you’re in the room, a leash attached to a couch leg) with a stuffed Kong or chewie to keep him occupied. His area should only have enough room for him to rest in it. If puppies have too much space, they may sleep on one side and eliminate on the other.
Learn to recognize your pup’s “potty signals” (sniffing, circling, raised tail, etc) and hurry him outside before he has a chance to make a mistake. Know approximately how often your pup needs to go out and accommodate his schedule as much as possible. For example, if your pup needs to eliminate every 20 minutes, make a point to take him outside every 15 minutes. Use a timer if necessary. As your pup is successful, slowly start increasing the amount of time between potty breaks.
When outside, introduce your potty command such as, “go potty” or “hurry up” immediately before your pup starts to eliminate. After your pup has done his business, reward him with praise and a treat. Eventually, your pup will be conditioned to potty on command. If your pup does not potty outside and you think he should have, return him to his crate and try again after 10-15 minutes.
More tips for success:
- Take your pup out after he eats, sleeps or plays.
- Feed your pup at the same times daily. Your pup’s digestive system will be on more of a schedule.
- Remove the water bowl approximately 1-2 hours before bedtime (except during hot weather).
- If your pup has an accident inside, eliminate the odor with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle®.
If your pup starts to potty inside the house in front of you say “oh-oh” and rush him outside. Punishing your pup for mistakes is ineffective and counterproductive. If your dog must be left for longer periods of time, you should set up an area with your pup’s bed, stuffed Kong®/indestructible toys on one side and a potty area (newspapers, potty pads, doggie litter boxes are some possibilities) on the other. This area should have a non-porous floor that cleans easily. Dog walkers can be hired to let your dog out for a play and potty session in the yard. As your pup gets older, you can expect that his bladder and bowel control will improve and you can remove the indoor potty when appropriate. Many people find dog doors to be helpful. Just make sure that your dog is safely contained and protected in the yard.