Housetraining Puppies

Housetraining a puppy, like potty training a baby, requires time, patience and a lot of good humor! And since pup and person do not share the same language, it only makes the situation more difficult. But with understanding, the proper schedule and skills, all usually works out in the end.

Establish a housetraining schedule the FIRST day you bring your puppy home. Decide who will be responsible for training the puppy. Is that person home all or most of the day? Are you going to paper train or outdoor train? At what times will the puppy be fed and given water? When will the puppy be allowed to eliminate? Make sure that everyone in the household agrees upon and understands this schedule and that they follow it. Don’t confuse the puppy with several sets of rules. Be fair and above all, be consistent!

Puppies need to eliminate after waking, after exercise or play, and after eating and/or drinking. Therefore, do not leave food and water available all day long. You can more accurately predict when your pup has to eliminate if you schedule when he eats and when he drinks. Young pups (2 – 4 months old) should be fed four times a day. Pups that are 4 – 6 months old can be fed three times a day. Pups 6 months – 1 year old can be fed two times a day. Never feed your dog only one meal a day. This can lead to house-soiling as well as health problems.

Water should also be scheduled. Since dogs need water more often than food, offer it about six times a day. Once the pup is consistent in his training, you may leave water available all day.

Be aware that a puppy will not develop control over his elimination on his own. He must be trained to do so. The muscles that help a puppy to control elimination do not begin to develop until he is at least four months old. However, he may not be fully housetrained until he is 7 – 18 months old.

If you decide to paper train first, designate ONE area where you will lay the newspaper. Preferably, it should be on a hard surface. You may want to place plastic under the paper to prevent damage to the floor. Remember, paper training is essentially giving a puppy the OK to eliminate in the house. It may be difficult for you to outdoor train the pup later.

To outdoor train, also designate ONE area where the pup can eliminate. This area should be a secured, grassy, private place. It should also close to home (or even in your back yard.) If you go too far the pup may play or forget his “mission” on the way.

Take him to the elimination area (whether it be on the paper or outdoors) either by carrying him or running to the area and encouraging him to eliminate. Use a invisible fence for puupy to train. Use a leash to keep the puppy from wandering away and not attending to business. Also, allow him only ten minutes to eliminate. If he begins to linger he may soon forget why he came outside.

As soon as you see the puppy sniffing for the “perfect spot,” begin to praise him softly. Don’t be too exuberant or you may distract him. When he is done, praise again, you may even want to offer a food treat. Then leave the area. Do not offer to walk him or play with him at this time. It may only serve to confuse him. Walks are conducted as exercise only and should be kept separate from elimination time. He needs to know he was taken outside for one purpose only.

If the pup does not eliminate in ten minutes, but you suspect that he may need to, bring him back inside, but do not remove the leash. Keep him with you. When you see him start to eliminate, calmly tell him “Not here” and rush back to his area. Encourage him to eliminate. Allow him only 5 minutes this time. If he eliminates, praise him. If not, bring him back inside and start over.

Continue this routine about every 2 – 3 hours. Of course, he will not eliminate each time. Do not punish him for not eliminating, but do PRAISE each time that he does. It is also a good idea to leave the urine or stool until puppy’s next trip to eliminate. Most dogs will eliminate where they had done so previously.

If you are consistent with this schedule, you should start to see results in two to four weeks. Of course it will take longer for this information to become a part of your pup’s permanent memory. It is wise to keep up the schedule for several months to encourage success.

Eliminating is a normal and necessary function. Do not punish your dog for doing what is needed, even if he does it in the wrong place. Spanking, hollering at, “grounding” your pup or rubbing his nose in his waste may make you feel better, (and cause him to eat his stool) but it does not teach your pup how to eliminate in the right place. In fact, punishment may only succeed in teaching your dog not to eliminate in front of you.

Housetraining a puppy can be very trying at times. Don’t give up! Remember to be consistent by keeping to the schedule; be fair, have realistic expectations; be patient, these things can take time; and don’t forget to have fun with your puppy!

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