Housebreaking Your Puppy
Updated: Mar 24, 2018
Easily the most important and first thing you will do soon after bringing your puppy home is potty training. Your dog doesn't know the difference between the inside of your house and the backyard. As far as they are concerned there are very few places that are not acceptable place to pee or poop. You probably have very different ideas. It should be relatively easy for you to train your dog to go outside if you are willing to follow the steps given here.
Puppy Housebreaking Step By Step
As you begin this process you may have to cut those close and cuddly ties you have already established with your puppy. To housebreak a puppy you will need to keep him confined to a small area, not your lap, in the home. While this may seem like punishment remember that dogs were once den dwelling animals. They like their crate or doghouse it makes them feel secure. They also want your praise, so by training them you will be able to give them the praise that they desperately want.
- Get a crate or kennel for your puppy. When you are not actively engaged in playing with or walking your puppy he should be in a crate. This includes overnight and while you are not home. The puppy should not expect, nor should he be given free run of your home. This will give him an early sense of dominance and make it harder to train him. In addition, most dogs will not eliminate in their kennels, so you reduce the risk of an in home accident. The crate should be large enough for your dog to sit up, stand, and turn around. Too large of a crate is not going to make your dog feel secure and too small will be uncomfortable. Since your dog will likely get larger you may have to invest in successively larger kennels. Maintain them well and you should be able to sell them online or at a yard sale. Your local dog shelter would probably love a donation of an old kennel if you are so inclined.
- Plan to have someone with your puppy most of the time. You should not get a puppy the day before you leave on a two week vacation. The best time to get a puppy is Friday after work so you have at least two full days to spend solely on housebreaking. Most of your time should be spent around the house with your new dog making him feel comfortable and getting him on a puppy schedule.
- Purchase training supplies. You will need treats, and lots of them for housebreaking and other behavioral training. Buy a large supply and a wide variety of treats. There are all sorts of different kinds available, make sure to get ones that your little puppy can handle chewing up. You might even cut up the treats into small, bite sized pieces. There are treat bags that you can purchase that will clip to your belt or pocket, but a sandwich bag that is sealed works just as well. You probably do not want to just keep them in your pocket because the dog will smell them and will not leave you alone.
When it comes to potty training you will also want a stopwatch or timer, if there is one on your oven or cell phone that will also work fine. Some people, especially apartment dwellers with small dogs use pee pee pads. It seems a little gross, but can be a necessity if you live in an apartment where going downstairs constantly can be a hassle. There are some good grass beds available that are an alternative to pee pee pads. They are much more appealing to look at and to smell. This is also a good choice if your puppy will use your balcony to relieve himself. Neither of these are good options if your puppy will eventually be a medium to large sized dog. Big dogs equal big puddles and big poops, the pads and grass beds are not large enough to handle it.
- Come up with a schedule. The rule of thumb is that a puppy can hold it for one hour for every month of age plus one hour. If your dog is two months old he should be able to hold it for three hours. However, this does not mean you should wait three hours before taking him out. Instead you should start feeding and watering the dog at the same time every day. Some people choose to feed dogs twice a day, some once. Your dog will let you know which it prefers. Each time you feed the dog he should be given a set amount of time, maybe fifteen to thirty minutes to eat and then the food should be taken away.
After the dog has eaten he should immediately be taken out to go potty. YOU choose the area of your lawn that you want him to use as a toilet and take him to that area. Walk the dog around the area and use a cue phrase that suits you like “Go Potty” or “Do Your Business.” These cues will get engrained in your dog and he will react to them throughout his life. Make sure that everyone in the household who will take the dog out uses the same cue phrase.
Continue using your cue phrase while the puppy goes potty, until he is completely finished. Once he is done praise him and give him affection and a small treat. If he does not go potty within five minutes take him back inside and put him in his kennel. Wait fifteen to twenty minutes and try it again.
Throughout the day you will need to repeat this process once every hour, even when your puppy has not eaten. Each time your puppy has a successful potty venture praise him and allow him to have some supervised play time.
At bedtime your puppy should be locked in his kennel. While he is still young you might want to move the kennel into your bedroom at night, to make both the puppy and yourself feel more secure. Do not feed or give and water to your puppy near bedtime and try to get him to go potty before you turn in. However, when he is small you may want to set an alarm to go off at least once during the night so that you may take your puppy out to the potty area.
With few exceptions this plan should work to have your puppy trained within a few days. If you still have problems you may need to adjust your schedule so that it better suits his needs. Remember that even the best trained dogs have accidents while they are young, so be patient. Keep a good supply of floor and carpet cleaner on hand to deal with any messes the puppy might make in those first few years. Also, never demean or punish your puppy for accidents. They are just that, accidents. He is not purposely disobeying you. All he wants is your love and approval, the more of that you are able to give to him the more he will behave in a positive manner.