Housebreaking or "potty training" for your puppy or dog should start as soon as he is home with you. You must be prepared to be patient and observant!
There are six times a day a puppy (or an older dog that is still toileting in the house) should be taken outside for about 30 minutes to toilet:
- Before going to bed for the night
- As soon as he wakes up
- After a nap during the day
- After eating
- After exuberant play
- After you return home from an outing
Many people take their puppies out for a walk only to see the puppies relieve themselves as soon as they get back indoors. To avoid this, walk the puppy to his toilet area. Stand still with him, allowing the puppy to lose interest in you. Do not sit down, as this will only encourage the pup to jump on you and forget what he is out there for. Praise him when he goes. Start leaving him outside on his own so he learns to go when you are not around as well. This will also help to prevent the start of any separation anxiety.
Crating a dog or puppy when he sleeps is also an effective tool for house training. By instinct, dogs are reluctant to foul the area in which they sleep. Make sure that the crate is only large enough for the pup to stand up and turn around. Any larger and you will be encouraging the puppy to go to the toilet in a corner where he does not sleep.
Do not leave your puppy in the crate for long periods without ample opportunity to relieve himself. Otherwise, he will eventually have to relieve himself in the crate, and all of your hard work will be undone For more information on teaching your dog to use a crate, see our article on Crate Training.
If your dog or puppy has too much freedom to roam in the house before good toileting habits are established, he will relieve himself on your floors or carpets. Confine your dog or puppy to a small area of the house to avoid him becoming confused about where it is appropriate to go. Keeping him outside or in his crate will help speed up the process.
NEVER discipline a dog for any mistakes! Just calmly take him to the area that you want him to go and then thoroughly clean the urine with a bioenzymatic, pet-safe product, such as Buster's Secret, that will neutralize the smell. (Remember: If it smells like a toilet, it must be a toilet!) Positive reinforcement when he does the right thing in the right place is the best and quickest training method for housebreaking.
Be patient. It takes time and consistency for a pup to learn where you want him to toilet. If he is prevented from make mistakes in the house, the process will go a lot faster. Be prepared to be vigilant for the first 3-4 months that he's brought into your home.
If you are frustrated or having any problems with housebreaking your puppy or dog, call your local Bark Busters Dog Behavioral Therapist to discuss your situation and how we can help.