The most important detail in housebreaking is to make a schedule and stick to it. This both minimizes the opportunity for accidents and builds your pup’s confidence. If you keep track of when food and water goes in, you can predict when it needs to come back out. As the days go by you’ll notice your puppy can hold himself for longer periods, which means more praise and trust from you.
The best housebreaking schedule sets times for when puppy gets food and water, when he plays or goes for walks, and, of course, bathroom breaks. Plan each activity for the same time every day. Because dogs are creatures of habit, the more regimented the schedule the easier it will be for your puppy to learn what you expect from him.
How often to go out
In the beginning stages of housebreaking puppy, you should take him out in the morning when he wakes up, every hour-and-a-half during the day, and in the evening before bed. Later on, your pup should only need to go out in the morning, evening, and after meals or long play sessions.
The following is a simple formula to remember: Puppy’s age plus one.
Add one to your puppy’s age in months to get the number of hours he should be able to wait before going out. So a puppy that’s two months old can wait about three hours; you’ll need to take him outside at least once during the night.
To avoid accidents while housebreaking, pay attention to how your puppy signals he needs to go out. Signs may include sniffing or scratching at the ground or door, pacing, or whining. Once you’re keyed in to these behaviors, you can extend the periods between bathroom breaks.
Taking puppy outside
The heart of learning how to housebreak a puppy comes when it’s time to go outside.
Take puppy to the designated soiling area
Always use the same route to get there and don’t let him out on his own. You want to be sure he goes in the same place every time and that you’re there to give praise.
Repeat a housebreaking command as he starts to go
When it looks like your puppy is about to go, softly repeat a command like “hurry up” or “do it”. Don’t stop repeating the command until puppy actually starts to go.
Switch to gentle praise
Quietly switch from the command to gentle praise once he starts to eliminate and continue to praise until he’s done. It may take a few times for your puppy to be completely empty, particularly in the mornings. Wait until you’re certain he’s finished, then give him some hearty praise and head back to the house.
If this method is used consistently when housebreaking your puppy, you’ll eventually be able to make him go on command.
How to deal with accidents
You should expect a few accidents during the housebreaking process. Whatever you do, do not punish your puppy! Don’t rub his nose in the mess and don’t discipline after he’s already eliminated in the house because you think he knows what he did. This will only confuse and intimidate your puppy.
Catching him in the act
Clap your hands or slap the wall. Make any loud noise you can to interrupt the behavior. Then scoop your puppy up and take him outside to the soiling area. When he’s done, praise him as usual.
For all other times
Clean up the mess and figure out where YOU went wrong in housebreaking puppy. Did you ignore the schedule, give him water late at night, or miss the signs that he needed to go out? If you can see where you failed your pup, you can be better prepared to help him succeed.
Clean up messes with a product designed for pet accidents. Never use household cleaners or those containing ammonia, which can’t remove the odor. Your puppy may revisit the area if it’s not properly cleaned.
Learning how to housebreak a puppy is a pretty simple task if you stay alert and stick to your schedule. With consistency and plenty of praise, your puppy will be housebroken in no time.
For dogs and puppies
Consider crate training
Using a crate can reinforce the feeding and walking schedule you set for your dog during house training. Also, dogs instinctively know not to soil their sleeping area so your dog will quickly learn to hold it until you let him out.
Leave a stool in the soiling area
For the first week or two leave one of your dog’s stools in the area you’ve marked for soiling. This serves as a scent post. Once your dog can consistently recognize the spot and know what he’s supposed to do, house training becomes a lot easier.
Feed your dog a quality diet
This tip ensures your dog doesn’t suffer from diarrhea or constipation both of which can hamper training. Feed high quality dog food as recommended by your veterinarian to keep your dog happy and regular.
Leave the leash on
One of the simpler house training problems to cure is a dog that wanders out of your sight. Keep a leash on your dog so he’s constantly within grabbing distance and always supervise him while he’s in the house. You don’t want to find a surprise that’s a few days old or, worse yet, have your dog establish a habit of using a particular spot for his business without your knowledge. As your dog becomes more reliable, you can give him more leeway.
Special tips for puppy training
Carry puppy for morning trips outside
After a long night of holding it, your puppy may be inclined to go as soon as you lead him away from his bed. Carry him outside in the mornings to avoid unnecessary accidents, at least for the first few weeks of house training.
The Rule of One
If you take your puppy’s age in months and add one, you’ll have the number of hours he can wait between bathroom breaks. For example, a puppy that’s three months old will likely need to go out every four hours or so. This is a good way to determine if you’ll need to wake up during the night to take your puppy out.
Feed puppy in his crate
Some puppies have a tendency to eliminate as soon as they finish eating. To curb this “in one end, out the other” routine, feed your puppy in his crate. This will capitalize on his desire to keep his sleeping area clean and it’ll build a positive association with his crate.
While these dog house training tips can’t get you all the way to an accident-free dog, they can eliminate some of the factors that make training problematic.
Simplifies the house training process
Dogs instinctively know to keep their den clean. If you choose a crate that’s the proper fit for your dog, he’ll refrain from using the bathroom until you let him outside. Crate training becomes a simple way to schedule regular trips to his soiling area.
Provides a secure place to keep your dog
If you’re away from home or can’t supervise him, your dog’s crate is the perfect place to keep him safe. It can also be a comforting spot for him to rest if he’s injured or sick.
It’s the safest way for a dog to travel
The most secure and convenient way to transport your dog is in his crate. It keeps him protected while in the car and is a necessity for airline travel.
Disadvantages of crate training
While using a crate the right way can offer numerous benefits, using it incorrectly may actually harm your dog. The following are some dangers and disadvantages you should keep in mind when learning to crate train a dog:
Temptation to over-use or misuse the crate
Once your dog is comfortable with his crate, you may be tempted to keep him there throughout the day or use it as a way to punish him. Both of these can undermine the training process and keep your dog from appreciating his new den.
Can increase problems with separation anxiety
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety and you toss him in a crate to keep him quiet, you may make the situation worse. Crate training can play a role in rehabilitation, but without adequate exercise and conditioning, being shut in a crate will only increase your dog’s feelings of isolation.
Safety concerns about heat and choking hazards
Plastic or enclosed crates, if kept in a hot environment, can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog. The lack of air flow and high temperatures can lead to heat related illnesses. Also, your dog may be exposed to a choking hazard if you leave a slip collar on him while he’s in his crate or you use a crate with a door that doesn’t close tightly.
Despite these concerns, which can all be overcome with good judgment, you should crate train your dog. There’s no substitute for the satisfaction he’ll get from knowing he has a special place to call home.