Housebreaking a Puppy

How to "Potty Train" a Puppy

Guide to Housebreaking a Puppy. Make the little guy more house friendly with our housetraining tips for puppies.

housebreaking a puppy

Congratulations on your new family member!

Start right away to establish a housetraining routine when you bring the puppy home.

At times it might feel more like the puppy is training you than the other way around but the reward of a housetrained puppy awaits, so be consistent.

There are basically 2 methods for housetraining a puppy and you'll most likely use a combination of the two.

  • Paper training
  • Crate training (or outdoor training)

Ultimately you want the puppy to signal you when he wants to go outside (or go out on her own if she has an access door to a safe yard).

The process of housebreaking a puppy is not complete and reliable until the puppy reaches 6 months of age.

Once you begin housetraining a puppy, remain consistent and patient.

Steps for Housebreaking a Puppy

  • Start by placing newspaper or other non shiny, absorbent paper over the entire floor of the room in which you'll keep the puppy. Remove any puppy hazards such as electrical cords, sharp objects and unstable furniture.

  • Purchase a cozy, secure crate for the puppy to sleep in (Place toys and treats inside to get puppy's attention). Place the crate in puppy's room. This room is where the pup will spend it's unsupervised time when you are sleeping or away.

  • Have the puppy sleep in the crate. Dogs are den animals and are naturally reluctant to eliminate in their sleeping place. You'll have to get up at least once every night and carry the pup outside (don't let him walk as it'll be hard to keep him from voiding on the floor) and wait for him to finish. First thing in the morning do the same thing. Stay with him until he voids then make him think he's the smartest dog in the world for doing what came naturally, reward him with treats. (The younger the puppy the more frequently you'll need to get up.)

  • High quality puppy food formulas have less bulk and more nutrition. More nutrition means the puppy's body uses more of the product. Less fillers and cereals mean that the puppy requires a smaller amount and produces less waste. Select best quality dry puppy food and don't switch brands unless you must. Switching foods often causes diarrhea which sets your puppy up for failure in the house training department.

  • Young puppies have no control over (or desire to control) their bladder or bowels. They do, however want to please you. It's your mission to make him want to do it.

  • In the beginning your puppy will not have the slightest clue as to what you are up to. Be patient and positive.

  • Remove urine and messes and deodorize the spot as promptly as possible. Eventually the puppy will show a preference for certain areas. Slowly begin removing paper from the areas that the puppy no longer uses.

  • The puppy will become accustomed to voiding on paper and should reach a point where he seeks out his spot when the need arises.

  • Once the puppy uses his paper reliably you can slowly (inch by inch) begin to move his paper to a location of your choosing.

  • Meanwhile, take the puppy outside frequently to play and void. Lavishly praise the puppy and offer him a treat whenever he performs a behavior that you want to encourage (like peeing and pooping outside). Spend as much time outdoors as possible so that your puppy learns to prefer the outdoors as his toilet. (Don't forget to keep a plastic bag with you so you can pick up after your dog).

  • When you're home with your puppy, allow him to wander while you keep a close eye on him. Take him outside every 30 minutes, after play sessions, after he eats or drinks and as soon as he wakes from a nap.
    Take notice of his behaviors when he's looking for a place to void (sniffing, circling, bum tucking).
    When he exhibits these behaviors try to "catch him in the act" and loudly scold the puppy saying "no". Pick him up and take him outside (or to his paper). ~ Do not strike the pup or rub his nose in his leavings. This is NOT how to house train a puppy and can make things worse.

  • Punishing a negative behavior only shows the dog what you don't want (and most times it doesn't even do that) but gives him no idea what you do want. You'll get the best results by rewarding the puppy when he does what you want him to do.

Successfully housebreaking a puppy works best when you make it easy for the puppy to do what you want him to do. Keep him in places where he is very likely to void where you want him to, then praise him.

The more opportunities for positive reinforcement the quicker the dog learns. Set him up for success and make it easy for him to do what you want.

As with all training ~ Be Consistent ~ expect to move "one step forward and two steps back" at times. There are pet behavior specialists who can help if you encounter long term problems. There is no guarantee that our housebreaking a puppy methods will work for every dog.

The more time you spend in contact with the puppy the more opportunity you'll have to reward him when he does what you want him to do and the faster he'll be house trained.

Positive reinforcement works.

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