House training can be a daunting task for a new puppy owner. I am here to simplify the steps, the steps are simple but the process can be time consuming. Put the time in NOW while your puppy is young and save your sanity in the long run!
- Crate Train! Its very difficult to house train a puppy without a crate. Crate training is something that you can use for the life of the dog. Its important that your puppy has an away or quiet place if he needs to get away or sleep, its also important for house training because the general rule is that puppies will not go to the bathroom in their crates. The reason for this is that it becomes like a den and the puppy wants to keep his sleeping area clean. I also always recommend that you feed your new puppy in the crate, this has the added bonus of the puppy associating the crate with good things (food!) and also that dogs generally do not want to go to the bathroom where they eat. To push this even further freeze kongs or marrow bones full of yogurt, pumpkin or peanut butter (if your dog is sensitive or on a special diet simply soak the dog food in water and blend then add and freeze). Give these to your puppy inside the crate so that they associate it with good things!
- 100% supervision is required! your puppy should only be outside of the crate if you are actively doing something with them, IE walking, training, house training, playing with or socializing. Your puppy can be out of the crate for 20 to 30 minutes at a time without needing to go to the bathroom again so while they are out you need to be prepared to supervise them 100% of the time, if you catch them going to the bathroom in the house (which you should't because you are supervising them 100% of the time) walk briskly over to them, pick them up and take them outside. If you need to answer the phone, go to the bathroom or make a meal..... the puppy goes back into the crate until you are ready to supervise 100%.
- Take your puppy out as often as you can! this generally means after they have been released from their crate, after they have had a meal or had a drink, after they have had 20 minutes of activity, after they have woken up from a nap... its pretty much constant and you really can't over do it with this step. Puppies learn how to house train not because they know the difference from inside and outside but because they recognize the feeling under their pads (ie grass vs carpet OR patio vs tile floor) this is often why if your puppy is having accidents in the house that they will go in the same spot or in a spot that is the same floor surface..... so if you have a patio and grass area and you want your puppy to use the grass, carry them out onto the grass, use a leash if you have to. And once they go lots of praise and a treat!
- Young puppies can't hold it for a long time! your new puppy may need to go out every 2 to 3 hours (YES even in the middle of the night) be prepared for this, and make sure that you have some time off work or you hire a dog sitter or a daycare center to help make sure that your puppy is not confined for longer periods then necessary.
- There WILL BE ACCIDENTS! don't worry its totally normal. Make sure you are cleaning inside accidents with an appropriate pet mess cleaner. Don't scold, yell at or scare your puppy when you find an accident (which you shouldn't if you are following this system) or if you catch them in the act.... a puppy that is scared to go to the bathroom in front of you will do everything they can to sneak off and go in a quiet corner of the house which compounds the issue. You want your puppy to feel free to go to the bathroom in front of you... ignore in the house and reward outside the house. Its about repetition and habit building. Stay calm and set your puppy up for success!