Housetraining Your Puppy
As the owner of a new puppy, one of your first tasks will be to housetrain or housebreak your new little family member. In the United States, most dogs live inside the home, so teaching your puppy to relieve itself outside is a serious matter of hygiene. Depending on your puppy, it may take two to three weeks before he is completely housebroken. Fortunately, dogs come with the instinct not to soil their living space and after the age of 12 weeks, they are able to control the muscles that enable them to “hold” it. There are different ways you can housetrain your puppy and, with a lot of time and patience from you, your puppy will be housetrained in no time.
One of the first rules of puppy housetraining is to never punish or use harsh language. In the old days, there was a common belief that if a dog had an accident in the house, you should rub his nose in it. This is NEVER acceptable. Puppies want to please their owners, and they don’t understand what they are doing wrong. They may understand that the mess upsets their owner, but they don’t make the connection between the mess and the action of making the mess. Using harsh words or punishment will only make the problem worse, because they may begin to urinate out of fear. Consistent positive reinforcement is the best way to handle the training period.
When there are accidents –and there will be several – just clean it up and use a gentle voice. Use an odor neutralizer. If a cleaner is used that contains ammonia, it will actually attract the puppy to the location to relieve himself, again.
First, understand the cues a puppy gives and be vigilant. Circling the ground, sniffing, and possibly whimpering are all signs that a puppy has to urinate. If he suddenly runs to another room, he may have to defecate. Keep an eye on the puppy as much as you can, so that when you see the signs, you can gently pick him up and move him to the appropriate potty place. Until your puppy is housetrained, don’t let him have full run of the house. Confine him to one or two rooms and keep him with you. This will make it easier for you to keep an eye on him.
Keeping your puppy on a regular schedule will also help you predict when your puppy may have to relieve himself. Puppies will generally urinate after they wake up and shortly after they eat. If they are chewing a lot, playing, or have experienced some kind of excitement, puppies generally need to eliminate.
Vets and trainers recommend crate training your puppy, so it would be convenient to use the crate to housetrain him. The size of the crate is important, because if the crate is too large, the puppy may use one end of it as a toilet. If you’ve purchased a large crate, it is easy to find dividers at most pet stores. You can make the space in the crate smaller, so the puppy won’t relieve itself. This starts teaching him to hold it.
Another popular method for housetraining is by using newspapers or piddle pads. Piddle pads can be purchased at any pet store. With this method, you start by teaching the puppy to relieve himself inside the house, on the newspaper or pad. Gradually, you’ll move the paper or pads closer to the door and eventually bring him outside.
In the case of small dogs, a litter box can sometimes be used. Make sure the box is large enough for the puppy to comfortable squat and you have a safe litter. Puppies smell and taste everything. Puppies might be injured if they swallow the crystal or clumping litters that are used for cats. A rabbit bedding or paper bedding that dissolves in water is best for a puppy. Lead your puppy to the litter box often, and praise him when he eliminates in the box.
It may take a while for your puppy to be perfect in his housetraining, and you may see some regression now and then. Make sure you praise him every time he relieves himself in the right place. If your puppy continues to use your house as a bathroom, or a seemingly housetrained puppy begins to urinate in the house, there may be some reasons for it. A male dog may be marking his territory, especially if another dog has been in the house. A dog that runs off to hide the fact that he’s urinating in the house may never have been truly housetrained. A timid dog that is scolded may often display submission urination, and occasionally an excited puppy will lose control of his muscles and urinate. If you notice continued urination, the best thing to do is discuss it with your vet to rule out any medical problems like bladder infections. Bladder infections aren’t uncommon in puppies and cause frequent urination with little warning. With patience most of these problems can be easily solved.
Refer to the following links for detailed guides and tips on housetraining your puppy:
- Housetraining Puppies: The Humane Society provides instructions for housetraining puppies.
- Housetraining Do's and Don'ts: Humane Education and Responsible Ownership provides a list of do’s and don’ts to help get you started in housetraining that puppy.
- Housetraining Tips: A list of basic tips on housetraining a puppy.
- Puppy Housetraining: An article that provides the essential information needed to housetrain a puppy.
- Housebreaking Your Puppy or Dog: Major points to follow for successful housetraining.
- Housetraining Issues: An article about how to housetrain a puppy and the difficulties that may be experienced.
- Tips on Housetraining a New Puppy: Advice on how to housebreak any new puppy.
- Steps to Housetraining: Housetrain a puppy in five easy steps.
- Housetraining or Retraining: A step-by-step guide to housetraining a puppy or retraining an older dog. This site also provides a Q&A.
- A Guide to Happy Housetraining: Detailed instructions and tips on housetraining with special advice on male puppies.
- Housetraining Tips for Apartment Living: Advice on how to housetrain a puppy while living in an apartment.
- Housetraining Help!: Tips for effective housetraining.