House training, also known as potty training, is an important first step when adopting a puppy. Teaching a puppy or adult dog the proper time and place to eliminate takes determination and patience. The key is to remember that effective potty training relies on positive reinforcement rather than punishment. But how do you train your puppies to go potty?
Potty training should begin with the creation of a schedule that both you and your dog can adhere to. You may also want to use a repeatable phrase, such as bathroom or potty, each time you take your dog to the elimination area so that they associate the word with the action.
Establishing a Routine
Puppies thrive on a consistent schedule. The schedule teaches them that there are times for eating, playing, and doing business. A puppy’s bladder control usually improves one hour every month of age. So, if your puppy is two months old, it can hold for about two hours. They are more likely to have an accident if they go longer than this between bathroom breaks.
- Take your puppy outside at least every two hours and immediately after they wake up, during and after playing, and before and after eating or drinking.
- Choose an outdoor bathroom and take your puppy, on a leash, there every time. Use a specific word or phrase while your puppy is relieving themselves that you can eventually use before they go to remind them what to do. After they have been eliminated, take them for a long walk or playtime.
- Reward your puppy every time they go potty outside. Praise or give treats immediately after they’ve finished, not after they’ve returned inside. This step is critical because the only way to teach your dog what is expected of them is to reward them for going outside. Make sure they’re finished before rewarding them. Puppies are easily distracted, and if you praise them too soon, they may forget to finish until they return home.
- Set up a regular feeding schedule for your puppy. What goes into a scheduled puppy comes out of a scheduled puppy. Puppies may need to be fed twice or three times per day, depending on their age. Feeding your puppy at the exact times every day increases the likelihood that they will eliminate at the exact times, making house training easier for both of you.
- Pick up your puppy’s water dish about two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the possibility of them needing to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can sleep for about seven hours without needing to go to the bathroom. If your puppy does wake you up in the middle of the night, don’t make a big deal; otherwise, they’ll think it’s time to play and won’t want to sleep again. Turn off as many lights as possible, don’t talk or play with your puppy, take them outside to relieve themselves, and then put them back to bed.
Look After Your Puppy
Don’t let your puppy soil in the house; keep an eye on them whenever they’re inside. If you are not actively training or playing, tether your puppy to you or a nearby piece of furniture with a six-foot leash. Keep an eye out for signs that your puppy needs to go outside. Barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around, or circling are all obvious signs. When you see these signs, grab the leash and take them outside to their bathroom spot right away. If they succeed, praise them and give them a treat.
In the yard, keep your puppy on a leash. During the house training process, treat your yard as you would any other room in your home. Allow your puppy some freedom in the house and yard only after being consistently housebroken.
Train Them When You’re Away
If you must be away from home for more than four or five hours daily, there may be better times to get a puppy. Instead, consider an older house-trained dog who can wait for you to return. If you already have a puppy and need to be gone for an extended period, you may need to:
- Make arrangements for someone to take them for bathroom breaks, such as a responsible neighbor or a professional pet sitter.
- Alternatively, teach them to relieve themselves in a specific location indoors. However, remember that doing so may cause the house training process to take longer. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspapers may create a lifelong surface preference, which means they may eliminate on any newspapers lying around the living room as an adult.
- If you intend to paper-train them, ensure they have enough space for a sleeping area, a playing area, and a separate elimination area. Use pet pee pads, newspapers (cover the area with several layers of newspaper), or a sod box in the designated elimination area. To make a sod box, place sod in a container, such as a small plastic swimming pool, for a child.
- If you have to clean up an accident outside the designated elimination area, do so after placing the soiled rags or paper towels inside the area to train your puppy to use the scented area instead.