Housetraining your puppy
Housetraining a puppy requires time, vigilance, patience and commitment.
The more consistent you are in following the basic housetraining procedures, the faster your puppy will learn acceptable behavior. It may take several weeks to housetrain your puppy and with some of the smaller breeds it might take longer.
A puppy can usually be considered reliably housetrained when it has not had any accidents for two to three months.
Establish a Routine
Your puppy will do best if he is taken outside on a consistent and frequent schedule. He should have the opportunity to eliminate after waking up from a nap, after playing and after eating.
Choose a location not too far from the door he will go in and out to be the bathroom spot. Always pick your puppy up and take him directly to the bathroom spot.
Taking him for a walk or playing with him directly after he has eliminated will help him to associate good things with elimination.
If you clean up an accident in the house, take the soiled rags or paper towels and leave them in the bathroom spot. The smells will help your puppy recognize the area as the place he is supposed to eliminate or more truthfully, will stimulate his system to relieve himself.
While your puppy is eliminating, use a word or phrase, like “go potty,” that you can eventually use before he eliminates to remind him of what he’s supposed to be doing. Do not interrupt his potty by talking to loud or by moving. Be still and be soft in your words as he is relieving himself. Once he learns the subliminal message, you can say it louder and louder. After he understands, then you can command.
Praise your puppy lavishly every time he eliminates outdoors. You can even give him a treat. You must praise him or treat him immediately after he’s finished eliminating, not after he comes back inside the house. This step is vital; because rewarding your dog for eliminating outdoors is the only way he’ll know that this is an appropriate behavior. If you reward after he comes in the house, he will associate the reward with coming in the house. Rewards need to be directly after the act in the beginning of training. As the dogs mind works and he puts things together, he will understand the reward was actually for going potty, but at first a puppy only relates to the direct immediate or the here and now.
You must put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make it more likely that he’ll eliminate at consistent times as well. This makes housetraining easier for both of you.
Supervise, Supervise, Supervise
Don’t give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house. He should be watched at all times when he is indoors. You can tether him to you with a leash or use baby gates to keep him in your view. Watch for signs that he needs to eliminate, like sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately pick him up and take him outside to his bathroom spot. If he eliminates, praise him lavishly and reward him with a treat.
Animals do not want to eliminate where they are, they will go away from the area to do their business. Confining an animal makes them hold it and you must remember to take the animal directly out to potty when you bring him out of his cage. He WILL have to go.
If your pup is not on the rug, he will not pee on the rug. When the pup is potty trained then you may allow him to go further and further into the house. The house is your domain, not a kennel for your pup or dogs. Animals will learn to respect your home as your castle if you demand it of them.
When you catch him in the act of eliminating in the house, do something to interrupt him, like make a startling noise. I do scare the piss out of my dog and I expect to clean it up, but it was my fault not the dogs/pups. We are the humans with brains and we are responsible for all that happens in our lives. If my dog pees in the house, it was me who was not paying attention, but, I can still use this as a training time and teach my pup/dog that this act is NOT ACCEPTABLE, EVER!!!! I will grab the pup up and swish him out the door. The scare is so much more than any pain. There doesn't need to be pain, but the terror, will stop the pup from ever doing that again. My pup will never soil in my home again because:
- I never allow my dogs my complete home floor plan. I only allow them in one area and that is all.
- I always watch the pup/dog always… if I cannot, he is not in the house.
A lot of folks will disagree with me. I do not and will not sugar coat this just because you are timid and do not wish to hurt your pup’s feelings. Do whatever works for you. Whatever works is fine with me. I know what works for me and I do what works for me. If your pup is still peeing in the house, you have the problem, not me. I will tell you, the more your pup potties in the house, the more it will…… as it sets the action into its brain… your pup will now hide it from you and sneak around to do his business, my pup wont. I do not have any dogs that potty in my home and I am a breeder, I have at least 20 puppies a year and at least eight adults that are not neutered.
After he has soiled, I would put the dog outside and ignore him for at least a day.
Cleaning the soiled area is very important because puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces.
Sugar coating: It’s extremely important that you use the supervision and confinement procedures outlined above to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, he’ll get confused about where he’s supposed to eliminate, which will prolong the housetraining process.
He is not confused he is beginning to get a bad habit that has been allowed and for which he is not punished.
If you have to be away from home for more than four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a puppy. If you’re already committed to having a puppy and have to be away from home for long periods of time, you’ll need to train your puppy to eliminate in a specific place indoors.
Teaching a small tiny puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface preference, meaning that he may, even in adulthood, eliminate on any newspaper he finds lying around the house.
When your puppy must be left alone for long periods of time, confine him to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the area designated as the elimination place, you can either use newspapers, a sod box or litter.
To make a sod box, place sod in a container, like a child’s small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog litter products at pet supply stores. If you clean up an accident in the house, take the soiled rags or paper towels, and put them in the designated elimination place. The smell will help your puppy recognize the area as the place where he is supposed to eliminate.
Other Types of House soiling Problems
If you’ve consistently followed the housetraining procedures and your puppy continues to eliminate in the house, there may be another reason for his behavior.
Medical Problems: House soiling can often be caused by physical problems, such as a urinary tract infection or a parasite infection. Check with your veterinarian to rule out any possibility of disease or illness.
Territorial Urine-Marking: Dogs sometimes deposit urine or feces, usually in small amounts, to scent mark their territory. Both male and female dogs do this, and it most often occurs when they believe their territory has been invaded (see our handout: “Territorial Marking Behavior in Dogs and Cats”).
Genetic problems (of which our breed does not have)
Submissive/Excitement Urination: Some dogs, especially young ones, temporarily lose control of their bladders when they become excited or feel threatened. This usually occurs during greetings, intense play or when they’re about to be punished (see our handout: “Submissive and Excitement Urination”)
Separation Anxiety. Dogs that become anxious when they’re left alone may house soil as a result. Usually, there are other symptoms, such as destructive behavior or vocalization (see our handout: “Separation Anxiety”).
Fears or Phobias. When animals become frightened, they may lose control of their bladder and/or bowels. If your puppy is afraid of loud noises, such as thunderstorms or fireworks, he may house soil when he’s exposed to these sounds (see our handout: “Helping Your Dog Overcome the Fear of Thunder and Other Startling Noises”