House Training Your Puppy
Training your Puppy: The Do's and Don'ts of Housetraining
This article is targeted at your puppy, but it really works just as well with an older dog. If you, or a friend or family member, has an older dog with a problem -– give it a try.
There's no such thing as "too soon" to start house training. Begin as soon as you bring your puppy home, but be patient. It may take several weeks to achieve success.
Puppies have small bladders and may need to urinate every couple of hours. They may also lose control when they get excited, or feel threatened or frightened. And remember, toilet functions are used by your puppy as an instinctive scent-marking, territorial activity.
Start by finding a place in your yard -– as close to the yard door as you can -- that you want the puppy to use as his bathroom. If you can enclose the area so much the better. Keep using the same area and he will associate his scent with that area and learn that this is where he goes to the bathroom.
Your puppy must have routine eating, walking, and sleeping times. Take him out to his bathroom as part of his regular routine: when he wakes up (in the morning or even after a nap), 30 minutes or so after eating or drinking, and last thing at night before he goes to bed. These are the times your puppy will naturally want to relieve himself.
While your puppy is very small, you should carry him out to your chosen spot. When he's a little bigger you can use his leash.
You should always go outside with him and, for 3 main reasons, STAY with him. First, you can make sure he doesn't wander off to explore another part of the garden instead of going where you want him to. Second, you can be sure that he has actually relieved himself. Third, and most important, you can praise him and give him a treat as soon as he has finished.
You must also observe your puppy so you can recognise the signs that he needs to go out. Some puppies will go round in circles; some will start sniffing the floor. Take him straight outside when he displays these signs, and think how great it will be the first time he actually goes to the yard door to tell you! Believe me, he'll soon get the idea that going outside is the good thing to do - because it makes you pleased with him, and he gets that treat.
But until he does get the idea -– accidents will happen inside the home. In the early days, try to confine him to one room in the home -– particularly at night so he doesn't leave you any 'surprises'.
And this brings me to some "don’ts"
Don't . . .
. . . yell at your puppy. He won't understand why you're mad. He can't associate your anger with his action of peeing on the carpet, so your yelling achieves nothing except confusing and frightening him.
. . . rub his nose in the urine. This is another act he doesn't understand, so he learns nothing from it.
. . . hit your puppy. This will ruin any chance you have of bonding with him, and may result in his growing into an antisocial, aggressive adult dog.
. . . clean up in front of him. He'll interpret this as a successful way of getting your attention.
. . . clean up less than thoroughly. If any trace of scent remains, your puppy may go back to the same place over and over again. Don't use ammonia for the cleaning (it smells like urine to him) – baking soda does a great job, and lots of pet stores have good odor clearing products.
Well, now you have the tools. Just add to this your time and commitment, and your love for the puppy. Good luck!
Phillipa Baxter offers sensible, effective dog training tips that have helped over 9,000 puppy owners worldwide build strong, loving relationships with their new dog. For more useful advice you are very welcome to visit her at