You’ve just gotten an adorable new puppy, but you’re beginning to suspect she’s a leaky model. The way things are going, you’ll have only two choices for her name: Spot or Puddles. Dog house training isn’t necessarily one of the biggest joys of owning a pet, but it’s the most vital training you can give them. To get your pet moving in the right direction—preferably outside—here’s what vets recommend.
Be kind about accidents
When you catch your puppy in the act of going in the wrong place, it’s important to address the situation promptly and effectively. Rather than yelling or scolding, calmly say “No!” to interrupt the behavior. Immediately pick up your puppy and gently guide them to the appropriate toilet area where they are supposed to eliminate.
Wait for your puppy to finish eliminating in the correct spot and praise them abundantly for their good behavior. Positive reinforcement is crucial in reinforcing the desired bathroom habits. Offer verbal praise, petting, and even a small treat to reward their appropriate actions.
Consistency is key in this process. By consistently redirecting your puppy to the right place and providing positive reinforcement when they eliminate correctly, you help them understand the appropriate behavior and reinforce the desired routine.
Remember to be patient with your puppy as they are still learning and may have occasional accidents. It’s important to continue with positive reinforcement and consistent training to encourage them to develop proper bathroom habits.
Additionally, establishing a regular schedule for bathroom breaks and closely supervising your puppy can help prevent accidents and facilitate successful house-training.
By using positive reinforcement, redirection, and consistency, you can effectively guide your puppy towards appropriate bathroom habits and create a positive learning environment for them.
Hide the scent
Some vets suspect that when dogs can smell where they’ve gone before, they’re more likely to return to the same spot. You’ll have to clean the area thoroughly. Mix 1⁄4 cup of white vinegar and a squirt of liquid detergent in a quart of warm water. Scrub the area thoroughly with the solution, then apply an odor-masking spray or liquid, such as Nature’s Miracle.
Choose a housebreaking method
There are two basic styles for potty training a puppy: crate training and paper training. Many experts believe crate training is more effective at helping your puppy learn control, although it’s also more labor-intensive—you have to be nearby whenever she has to go.
When you first bring your puppy home, set her up in her own indoor kennel, or crate. Put her favorite blanket and toy inside to make it comfy—an inviting place where she’ll sleep, nap and hang out when you’re not actually watching her. Before putting her inside, be sure to remove her collar and tags so they don’t get caught on the sides of the crate. Then stay nearby. The idea is to take her out frequently so she never has an accident in her crate. Since most dogs don’t like to soil the area where they sleep, this method really works. Young puppies will usually have to go out about every two hours during the day when they’re active and every four hours at night. After about five months, most dogs will be able to go all night without accidents.
As an alternative or supplement to crate training, you may want to use newspapers. This method is particularly good when you can’t be home to let your pup outside. What you do is confine her to a small room in which the floor is covered with newspapers. The idea is to let her out as soon as you can and praise her when she goes outside. And if she happens to make a mess, well, that’s what the papers are for. As your pup gains more control, gradually decrease the area covered by newspapers until she’s using only a small corner of the room. By this time she’ll have more control and probably won’t need the papers much longer.
Whether you’re training your pup with papers or a crate, the goal is always to get her outside before it’s too late. Signals that spell “bathroom” include crouching, pawing the ground or walking in circles while sniffing the ground. Gently whisk her outside as soon as you suspect trouble.
Regardless of which training method you use, young dogs (and old ones, too) are going to make mistakes. Some pups learn the ropes in just a few weeks. Others, particularly smaller dogs, take six months or more.
Be a puppy training cheerleader
Set the alarm
During the initial stages of housetraining, it’s important to anticipate that your puppy may not be able to hold their bladder throughout the entire night. Plan on setting an alarm and getting up halfway through the night to take your puppy outside for a bathroom break.
Puppies have smaller bladders and less control over their elimination functions, so even if they are trying their best, they may still need to relieve themselves during the night. By waking up and taking them outside, you can prevent accidents in the house and reinforce the idea of going to the bathroom outside.
When you wake up for the nighttime bathroom break, keep the environment calm and quiet. Use minimal lighting and avoid stimulating play or interaction. Guide your puppy to the designated toilet area and give them a verbal cue to encourage elimination. Once they’ve finished, provide praise and rewards to reinforce the desired behavior.
As your puppy grows older and gains better bladder control, they will gradually be able to sleep through the night without needing a bathroom break. Until then, be patient and consistent with the nighttime routine to support their housetraining progress.
Remember, housetraining takes time and patience. By being proactive and accommodating your puppy’s needs, you can establish a positive routine and help them develop proper bathroom habits.
Keep a regular schedule
Even housetrained dogs will need to go outside at least every ten hours or so. Twelve hours is pushing it for most dogs. Don’t go for drinks after work unless you have someone to walk your dog or you have a doggy door.
A crate provides a cozy retreat while at the same time preventing your pup from wandering—and making messes—where she shouldn’t.
When to see the vet
Until recently, your dog has had a spotless record, but now she seems to have misplaced her toilet skills. She may just have an upset tummy, but a sudden and recurring loss of control can also be a sign of trouble. There are a number of serious illnesses that can make accidents all but unavoidable. Some of the usual suspects include colitis, an intestinal or urinary tract infection or possibly a tumor. So if your dog has been making messes and she’s also lethargic, feverish, passing blood in her stool or straining to go, you’ll want to see a vet right away.