Puppy House Training

Teach your puppy where you would like him to eliminate. House soiling can quickly become a bad habit because dogs develop strong location, surface and odor preferences for their toilet areas. Learn your puppy’s signals and respond immediately. Puppies usually start sniffing and circling before they eliminate. Be on the lookout for these behaviors and take your pup outside to eliminate immediately. Allow him to walk to the appropriate place. Do not carry him. He needs to learn three things:

  1. Where to relieve himself
  2. How to get there (by following you)
  3. How to communicate to you to let him out; this may take a little time, and patience is key

Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Generally, a puppy will eliminate within 10-15 minutes of eating or drinking. Control your puppy’s eating by establishing a regular feeding schedule. This will help to predict when the puppy will need to eliminate. To housetrain your dog quickly and permanently, establish a safe long-term confinement area, which confines your dog’s natural behaviors, such as urinating and defecating, to an area that is protected. This helps prevent mistakes around the house when you are not there:

  • A single room indoors with easyto-clean floors (bathroom, utility room or kitchen) OR
  • A large dog crate (NOT small so the dog can barely turn around in it) OR
  • An exercise pen (an X-pen)
  • A number of chew toys to offer when the dog is left alone
  • Crate training is short-term confinement and will be discussed later

Keep in mind that a puppy should be given the opportunity to eliminate frequently. An important rule to remember is that a puppy can usually hold urine for the number of hours equal to its age in months plus one hour. For example, a puppy that is three months old will need access to an area to urinate at least every 3-4 hours. Puppies should not be left alone six or more hours a day without access to a proper elimination area. Consider doggie day care or a bonded/insured pet sitter to walk your animal while you are at work if you are not using long-term confinement. If you are using long-term confinement such as a large dog crate or exercise pen:

  • Provide your dog with fresh water throughout the day. We recommend against restricting water unless approved by your veterinarian.
  • Place a bed in one end of the area.
  • Place a doggy toilet in the corner opposite from the bed. Your dog will naturally want to eliminate as far as possible from the bed. This will aid in the development of a good habit of using the toilet you provide. Good habits are just as hard to break as bad habits!

Options for a toilet include:

  • A litter box lined with a roll of turf
  • Absorbent housebreaking pads sprinkled with soil or grass clippings
  • Newspapers
  • A litter box with concrete pavers if your dog will be eliminating on concrete outdoors

Short-term confinement: Crates can be either open wire or a plastic cage. Crates should not be used as long-term confinement or as punishment. A crate should be considered a safe, quiet haven for the puppy. Initially leave the crate door open so that the pup can come and go freely while he learns to be comfortable with his crate. Throw a few tasty treats inside to lure him into it. Eventually put a chew toy or a toy with treats inside into the crate. Chewing or working at getting the treats out of the toy will occupy his mind for a few moments. This time, close the door for a few seconds. Then open the door and let your puppy out of the crate. Repeat this several times a day, gradually increasing the time you keep the pup in the crate with the door closed. Try to keep this lesson low key and fun.

Try not to slam the door of the crate or yell at the puppy while he is inside. He may learn to fear being in the crate. Do not allow the puppy out of the crate when he is barking or crying. Rather, wait for a few moments of calm before you open the door. Otherwise, the puppy will learn that when he makes noise, he will be let out of the crate, a behavior that should be avoided.

We recommend a crate that is adequate for your dog when it reaches adult size. The dog should be able to stand up straight and stretch out to sleep. Put something soft for your puppy to lie on in the front of the crate, such as an old towel. Avoid the purchase of an expensive dog bed until the puppy is out of his chewing stage. Do not block the back of the crate to make it smaller as it will not assist in house training. If your puppy needs to eliminate and cannot possibly hold it any longer, he will usually go in the area that is not covered with the bedding he likes to sleep on. Newspaper, litter boxes with grass clippings, dirt or paving stones, or an absorbablepad placed in the back of the crate provide more desirable surfaces for elimination. Your puppy may be left for longer periods in the crate as he develops better bladder control.

Puppy owners will often keep water out of the crate because the puppy may spill the bowl. As a result, many puppies are in their crates many hours a day with no access to water. This can lead to the puppy drinking large amounts of water when let out of the crate and as a result, frequent urination or elimination in the crate. This can very quickly turn into a house-soiling problem. We strongly recommend you provide your puppy with free access to water at all times. When confined to a crate, offer water in a water bottle hung on the door of the crate.

During early housetraining, try to take your puppy outside on an hourly basis by saying “let’s go outside” (or some other appropriate toilet instruction) and walk quickly with your dog on a leash to the toilet area you established. Stand still with your puppy on his leash and repeat the instruction to eliminate. Allow 3-4 minutes for your puppy to eliminate.
Praise your puppy every time he eliminates appropriately. Treats are not necessary. If you elect to give a treat, do it immediately. Do not wait until you return indoors to give the treat. Otherwise, your puppy may learn to associate the treat with coming into the house, not with eliminating properly. If the puppy does not eliminate, return indoors and continue 100% supervision; then take your puppy outside again in 15 minutes rather than waiting for the next hour.

We recommend you exercise your puppy before you leave home, and try to leave when he is resting or occupied with toys in his crate or secured area. White noise such as music or television may help calm your puppy and mask noises that can trigger barking. You should not consider your puppy housetrained until he has gone for at least six consecutive weeks without eliminating anywhere in your home.

Puppy/Dog Care Information

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