Bringing home a new puppy may be one of the most joyous days of your life. It also may be one of the most frustrating if you don’t know how to properly house train your dog.
Some dog breeds are easier to train than others, but with concentrated effort and patience, especially within the first few months, your dog can learn to eliminate outside. Experts say that an ideal age to house train a puppy is between the ages of eight to 12 weeks.
The first step in housetraining is to never leave your puppy alone and unattended in the house. He should be supervised at all times or confined to a specific area, such as a dog crate, or he will find an opportunity to pee.
Crates are great tools for house training; a crate is a secure place for your dog to feel safe. Crates are very effective because dogs instinctively do not eliminate where they sleep.
Your puppy is in his chewing stage, so it’s extremely important to supervise him or he can he can easily ingest harmful items while wandering alone around your house.
Always purchase a wire crate because puppies can chew through a fabric one. Wire crates are portable and easy to assemble. The sides fold up to form the crate, and a tray sits on the bottom of the crate. Select a soft comfortable pad for the bottom of the crate.
The crate should be big enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. Most crates come with dividers, so you can section off the exact area for your puppy. He should be secure and snug, but still comfortable.
Let your dog walk around and explore the crate. Keep the door open while your puppy sniffs his new home. You want your dog to go in voluntarily. Never put the dog in the crate and close the door without an initial orientation session, and never use the crate as punishment. You want him to associate entering the crate with a rewarding experience.
To encourage your dog, place a dog treat inside the crate. You can use part of your dog’s daily kibble ration, and lavish him with praise when he eats the treat. Repeat this process several times until your dog associates the crate with a tasty reward. After your dog feels comfortable, close the crate door and feed your puppy treats through the wire grating. Continue until your dog settles in and relaxes.
During house training, your puppy needs to be in the crate or tethered to you by a leash. Again, never leave your puppy unattended in your home. When he’s in the crate or with you, watch for signs he needs to go, such as whining, barking or circling. Take him out right away!
Nonetheless, accidents will occasionally happen, and when they do simply wipe the spot with an enzyme spray cleaner like Nature’s Miracle that is specifically designed to eliminate pet stains and odors. An ammonia spray cleaner will leave a urine residue that only your dog can smell, and he will easily locate that spot again. Never punish your dog because he will know that you are upset, but he won’t associate your distress with his mistake.
Set his daily potty schedule, which is extremely important because puppies thrive on consistent training. Most puppies need to eliminate at least every hour or two depending on their age and bladder control capabilities. They generally pee or poop after they eat or drink, after they play, or after they wake up from a nap or in the morning.
A regular feeding schedule is also essential for house training. Do not allow your dog to graze on kibble all day because he will be pooping at unpredictable times, which can delay training.
Carry your puppy outside so he doesn’t eliminate on the floor before reaching the front door. Choose the same sidewalk area or patch of grass every time you take him out. The area should be free from distractions because you want your puppy to focus on learning. Always instruct your puppy to “go potty” and bring a treat with you, and after he finishes his business, praise and reward him every time he does what you ask. He will learn the phrase, “go potty” and associate that with doing his business outside.
Also, you can take advantage of this outdoor training time for practicing walking on his lead, but if your dog hasn’t received his full schedule of puppy vaccinations, keep him away from other dogs until your veterinarian advises it is safe to socialize.
If you are outside for a few minutes and your dog doesn’t pee, put him back in the crate and take him out again 15 minutes later. It may take a few attempts, but if you take your puppy out after eating, sleeping or play time, he will need to eliminate.
Repeat this process over a period of weeks and months, and your dog will look forward to going out, and will know that the sidewalk or grass is the place to potty! You will have instilled in him good manners and habits that will last over your pet’s lifetime.