Housetraining is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy when they become part of your household. They need to learn through routine the times to eat, play, sleep, and do business. We’ll go over several steps in this post that you can apply to housetraining for your puppy.
Build a Routine
Puppies are much like babies in that they learn best through routine and a regular schedule. A rule of thumb is that puppies can hold their bladder for an hour for every month of their age. So if your puppy is just three months old, you shouldn’t let them go longer than between three hours for a bathroom break to prevent accidents.
Take them outside immediately after waking up, during and after playing, and after eating and drinking.
Have them pick a bathroom spot outside. Take them to this spot on a leash. Use a specific word or phrase every time they go outside to begin using if they need a reminder what they went outside to do. Consider turning this into a walk or playtime afterwards once they have completed their business.
Reward your puppy with praise or treats immediately after they have finished and before they return inside. This is critical to helping them understand what is expected of them. Always be sure they are finished before giving them their reward as puppies can get easily distracted if they are rewarded too soon.
Have your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Puppies often need to be fed three or four times a day, depending on their age. Try to feed them at a consistent time every day, as this will help them do their business at consistent times as well, making the housetraining process easier for both of you.
Cut-off water consumption around two and a half hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood of needing to relieve themselves during the night. Most puppies can go about seven hours of sleep before needing to relieve themselves. If your puppy does wake you in the middle of the night needing to go, don’t make a big deal of it. Simply take them outside without talking to or playing with them and return them back to bed once they are finished.
Supervise Your Puppy
Always watch your puppy when they’re indoors to prevent accidents. Keep them tethered to your something nearby if you are not playing with or actively training them. Watch for signs, both obvious and not, that your puppy may need to relieve themselves. These include barking, scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, and sniffing around or circling. Immediately grab the leash when you see these signs and take them outside to do their business. If they do outside, praise them and reward them with a treat.
Remember that until your puppy completes housetraining, your yard should be treated like any other room inside the house. Give them freedom off the leash once they have become reliably housetrained.
Confine if Necessary
If you can’t watch your puppy at all times, confine them to an area small enough that they won’t want to do their business there. This area should be just big enough to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. Crate training is also an option for building discipline while out of the house and preventing accidents. Just remember that you will always need to take them outside immediately upon returning home.
Housetraining is a process, not an overnight occurrence. Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in your home along the way. Here’s how to handle them when they occur:
- Interrupt your puppy when you catch them in the act.
- Make a startling noise
- Don’t punish them for eliminating in the house, just clean it up.
- Clean the area immediately. Puppies are easily motivated to continue relieving themselves in that one spot if it has their smell.
Pay close attention during the supervision and confinement process to minimize the number of accidents and prevent prolonging of the training process. Allowing a puppy to frequently relieve themselves in your home will only delay this process.
Make Arrangements When Away From Home
If you’re often away from home for work or other functions, it may not be the best idea for you to own a puppy right now. Instead, consider adopting an older dog that’s already been housetrained. If you already own a puppy, then you’ll need to do the following:
- Arrange for a neighbor or professional pet sitter to drop by your home and take the puppy out for bathroom breaks. You may also try training them to use the bathroom in a specific spot in your home. Fair warning, though, that this can prolong the housetraining process. They may also develop a lifelong preference for doing their business on one surface only.
- If paper-training, confine them to a space with enough room to sleep, play, and a comfortable area to relieve themselves. In the designated elimination area, use either several layers of newspapers or a sod box to cover it. If an accident occurs outside the designated elimination area, put the soiled rags or paper towels inside it afterwards to help your puppy recognize the scented areas as the appropriate spot to eliminate.