Puppies are adorable, but man are they a lot of work! One of the most challenging tasks of bringing home a young dog is teaching him the business of, well, where to do his business. It’s a difficult but necessary step in raising a well-mannered dog, and potty training him as early as possible will save you lots of frustration later on. Here are 6 steps for house training puppies.
1. Take your puppy outside to go frequently—around once every hour to start. Dogs under 12 weeks old don’t have complete bladder control yet, and may not be able to hold it for very long. It’s a good idea to stick to a regular schedule for meals, playtime, potty time and sleep.
2. As soon as you notice your puppy getting ready to go in the house, clap your hands loudly or make an “Uh-uh” sound. Bring him immediately outside. Don’t scold him harshly; you don’t want him to become afraid of going or to try to hide it from you.
3. Each time he eliminates outside, reward him with lots of praise or a treat. The goal is to associate going potty outside with positive feelings. You may have success taking your pup directly to a spot where he went earlier. It’s okay if he doesn’t go every time; just be sure to watch him closely so he doesn’t go when you’re back in the house.
4. If your puppy goes in the house and you don’t catch him in the act, don’t scold him or rub his nose in it. Experts agree dogs have no way of connecting the punishment with something that happened earlier.
5. Watch your dog closely to learn the signs he’s got to go. Pacing, sniffing and turning in circles are often a sign he’s about to eliminate. You can also reward him when he goes to the door or paws at it to let you know he needs to go out.
6. Small periods of confinement will help your new puppy learn to hold it—no more than a couple hours at a time to start. Once he begins to learn, you can slowly lengthen the amount of time between bathroom breaks.
A few more tips to help you along the way:
-Even after your dog eliminates, don’t bring him inside right away. Give him a little time to sniff around and explore, otherwise he might develop a bad habit of holding it to stay outside longer.
-Even after your puppy is housetrained, it’s normal for him to regress or have accidents every now and then. Young dogs may have accidents when they get excited, startled or experience a new situation—like a friend’s house.
-Don’t confine your puppy if he continues to soil in his crate. This is a sign he hasn’t mastered the concept of holding it, or he may simply not yet have enough control over his body.
House training a puppy is hard! Don’t be afraid to seek additional help from your vet or a certified animal behavior specialist.