Puppy Potty Training: Housebreaking Advice
Before you bring a puppy home, plan to take one or two weeks off of work, so you have uninterrupted time to focus on the puppy -- and, in particular, puppy potty training. Otherwise, it will take much longer to housebreak your pup.
Puppies learn new skills at different rates. It will take time for your puppy to develop a firm understanding of where it's acceptable to potty and where it is not. It will take time for your pup to consistently understand that all of the house is the den, an area not to be soiled.
Puppies need to relieve themselves frequently, sometimes as often as once an hour. There will be many accidents, especially at first. Never lose your temper at the puppy, and always use simple, consistent one- or two-word commands. If you do not, your pup could become frightened and confused about what you expect.
Puppy Potty Training First Steps?
The first step in puppy potty training requires that you learn the clues that indicate your puppy needs to potty. These clues are: restlessness, sniffing the floor, or returning to a previously soiled spot. Your pup will need to potty about 5-20 minutes after eating, sleeping or playing. When you take your puppy outside to potty, to to the same spot each time and don't play. You want your puppy to focus on one thing only during puppy potty training -- going in the right area. As soon as your puppy potties, praise enthusiastically. Give your puppy a small food treat to reinforce the positive behavior. While your puppy is going potty, praise very softly so you don't interrupt the behavior. Be enthusiastic after your puppy is done.
While you're puppy potty training, you must keep the puppy close to you always so that the puppy does not have the opportunity to fail. This means starting the puppy out in a small area of the house and following the puppy nonstop. Alternatively, attach one end of a leash to the puppy and the other end to you, so that the puppy is no farther away from you than the end of the leash.
When you are not able to watch the puppy, put the puppy into a kennel. Or, if you have a fenced yard and the weather is good, you can put the puppy outside. However putting the puppy outside when you aren't watching means you lose the opportunity to reward. The kennel is a preferable training tool. A young pup 7-9 weeks old should be in a kennel for no more than two hours at a time. A puppy cannot control itself for longer than that.
We've done some research on kennels. There are many great one's available. However, you might want to look at one of these multi-size, sturdy folding crates. One great feature is that they can be folded to about four inches wide. They are also light weight but durable. The corners are slightly rounded which helps prevent leakage. A small one might work nicely for your pup.
Accidents During Puppy Potty Training
If you catch your puppy in the act of going potty in the house, you can do one of two things. The most common advice was to correct with a firm no and immediately take the puppy to the proper toilet area. This may not effectively discourage the puppy from going indoors. What often happens instead is that puppies learn to make sure you aren't watching when they go indoors, so they go behind the couch, in a closet, etc.
Newer understanding of dog behavior says that instead of punishing on the spot, you do everything you can to prevent indoor accidents. If they happen, ignore them. You don't want to give the dog any attention for this mistake. Simply put the puppy in its kennel, or outside, when she's finished, say nothing and clean up the mess thoroughly using an enzymatic cleaner. Then redouble your efforts to get the puppy out before there is an accident.
Consider getting Get Serious! Stain Remover if you want to have an effective product on hand to remove puppy accident stains. (Please do send us your results of using this product.) This product will even work on old stains, also -- although we are still compiling information on how aged the stain can be.
Don't ever hit a puppy for accidents. You'll frighten or confuse the puppy if you do so. Never punish a puppy after the fact. Remember, a puppy thinks it is being punished for whatever it is doing at the time of your correction.
The same thinking applies to rubbing a puppy's nose in his or her mistakes -- don't do it. The pup is not capable of making the reasoning leap that this is an area previously soiled, and that's why you are punishing. Dogs are oriented to the present.
What Happens During Training When Your Puppy Does Not Potty?
If you take your puppy outside and nothing happens, return the puppy to the kennel for 5-15 minutes. Then take the puppy outside again for a few minutes. Repeat this cycle until the puppy goes. As soon as that happens, the puppy can stay outside the kennel. This kind of routine helps the puppy focus on going when you want the puppy to go.
The Leash, Outside and Puppy Potty Training
As your puppy starts to get the routine, beging training to also go potty while on the leash, in areas other than your yard, and on varied surfaces. When you travel, your puppy will have the confidence and experience to go wherever you need the puppy to go.
You and your dog will make lots of mistakes during this time. Your puppy will do fine as long as you strive to be as consistent as possible. Your occasional training errors and frustrations will not permanently scar your dog. Dogs are quite resiliant. And so are you!