It’s Potty Time! Tips for Housetraining a Puppy or New Dog

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Posted by Kim Campbell Thornton on 11/16/2007 in Training Tips Articles

Successful housetraining has one simple rule: consistency. Housetraining your puppy, or even an adult dog, will go more smoothly if you establish a potty schedule from day one. Taking a puppy out at the same times throughout the day helps establish in his mind that outside is the proper place to eliminate.

Let’s rundown seven tips for success, which apply to both puppies and adult dogs:

1. Recognize that puppies have a physiological need to eliminate when they wake up, after they eat, and after they’ve been active. Take your puppy out first thing in the morning, right after he eats, as soon as he wakes up from a nap, and after he’s through playing.

2. Don’t just send your pup outside and expect him to know what you want. Put him on leash and stay with him until he potties. Then praise him. “Good go potty!” This is how he learns that you want him to pee or poop outdoors.

3. Be determined. If your puppy doesn’t pee or poop when you take him outside, bring him back in and put him in his crate. Try again in 20 or 30 minutes. Don’t let him loose in the house until he has eliminated outside.

4. Heap on the praise. Bring a clicker and some treats with you every time you take the puppy out. As soon as he starts to potty, click once. When he’s finished, give him a treat. Puppies learn quickly that good things happen when they go outside to potty.

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5. Understand your puppy’s physical limitations. Until a puppy matures physically, his bladder isn’t able to hold urine for long periods. Take your puppy out as often as possible. Set a kitchen timer as a reminder to take him out every hour or two when you’re home. When you’re not home, confine him to a crate or leave him in a puppy-proofed room, preferably one with an easy-clean tile or linoleum floor. Put papers on the floor to make cleanup easy.

6. Watch your puppy carefully. His body language can signal that he needs to go potty. Puppies who are good communicators may stare at you or jump up on you. Others stand at the door and look outside. Hang a bell on the door and ring it every time you take your puppy out to potty. He’ll soon learn to ring it himself when he needs to go out. If you see him sniffing and circling, hustle him outside fast!

7. Teach your puppy or dog to stay comfortably in a crate. Dogs are programmed not to eliminate where they sleep. Choose a crate that’s big enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in but not so big that he can potty at one end and sleep at the other. To create positive associations, give your puppy a treat when he goes in the crate, feed him inside his crate, and don’t let the kids don’t bother him when he’s in it. He’ll view it as a cozy hideaway all his own.

Parting advice: Puppies need time to grow up. Don’t expect your tail-wagger to be reliably housetrained until he’s at least a year old and has had the benefit of a consistent schedule, consistent expectations, and consistent praise when he does the right thing.

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