Housebreaking is one of the biggest issues pet parents have. Housebreaking is possible with any breed. Many people make excuses for why a dog is not housebroken, citing breed, stubbornness, dominating behavior, etc. In reality, dogs are not housebroken because people are not consistent or don’t do a good job of housetraining the dog from the beginning. However, the longer you allow housebreaking issues to go on, the longer they will take to fix later. It is far better to get started on the right foot with something this important.
Many people make excuses for why a dog is not housebroken, citing breed, stubbornness, dominating behavior, etc. In reality, dogs are not housebroken because people are not consistent or don’t do a good job of housetraining the dog from the beginning. However, the longer you allow housebreaking issues to go on, the longer they will take to fix later. It is far better to get started on the right foot with something this important.
Potty training is really simple, but it does take consistency and patience. You reward the puppy when he goes where you want him to and ignore him if he has an accident. You have to watch the puppy constantly until he is reliably housebroken, which means keeping him with you all the time or putting him in a crate. Most housebreaking issues happen because owners do not keep a close eye on the puppy. Be vigilant at all times! Young puppies do not have the ability to control their bowel and bladder for long periods of time. If your puppy is between 8 and 12 weeks of age, expect to take him out every hour or two during the day. You will probably need to get up at least once or twice during the night for puppies this young.
Once most dogs reach 12 weeks of age, they can often go three to four hours without an accident during the day and may be able to go all night without needing out. Most puppies will be able to control their bowel and bladder for eight hours by the time they are 6 months of age. Just remember, these are only general guidelines. Every puppy will be different, just as children are not all potty trained at the same age or with the same degree of ease.
Before You Start Housetraining
Where to Go? Most people eventually want their dog to eliminate outdoors. If that is your goal, it is better to start taking the puppy outside to potty from the beginning rather than first teaching him to go inside on potty pads or paper. Otherwise, housebreaking takes longer, and some puppies have a hard time figuring out it is no longer okay to go inside. If you live in an apartment or other place where getting outside quickly is difficult, you may want to use potty pads, artificial turf, or a doggy litter box.
Consider these options also if you must leave your puppy alone for hours before he is old enough to have good control of his bodily functions. Many potty pads are scented to attract puppies to eliminate on them. that makes them a better option than newspaper. Whether you are teaching the puppy to go outside or on a special surface inside, make sure everyone in the family knows the designated spot and keeps the route to that place free from obstacles. You will often need to get there fast.
Supervision: Puppies do not like to pee or poop where they sleep. In order to have the most effective housetraining for your puppy, you need a place to put him when you are unable to watch him. This place needs to be small enough so the puppy would have to lie in his mess if he went to the bathroom. A crate is the best option for effective housetraining. The crate should be small enough that the puppy can only stand up and turn around. Don’t put in bedding until after your puppy is housebroken.
Puppies often pee or poop in the bedding and then move it to one side so they have a clean place to sleep. Successful housetraining requires 100 percent supervision. If you can’t watch the puppy, he needs to be in his crate. Puppies are notorious for wandering off and pottying when your back is turned. Consider attaching him to you by a leash hooked to your belt to ensure he stays with you. Another option is to use baby gates to keep him in a room with you to make watching him easier. Puppies generally need to potty as soon as they come out of their crate after napping, after they eat, and after they play. These are always times to be especially vigilant and get your puppy to his designated area.
Accidents Will Happen: Be prepared for accidents. No matter how vigilant you housetraining is, the puppy will have an accident. You can use specially formulated cleaners, designed to eliminate most of the urine or feces odor, to clean up messes. Block access to any rooms with floor coverings that will be difficult to clean. Puppies often pick places to go where they can smell that they went before. You can clean up the mess with a good enzymatic cleaner so no odor is left behind.
Treats for Housetraining Success: Use a high-value treat that your puppy does not get often, such as hot dogs or boiled chicken. The treat must be something truly tasty so the puppy really wants to get it. This will be a special treat the puppy gets whenever he potties in his designated area.
First Steps to Potty Training Your Puppy
- Take your puppy to his designated spot on a leash. If he potties in the proper place, immediately say “good dog” and give him a high-value treat. Dogs have a very short association window, so you have only a few seconds to give him a treat for him to understand he is getting it for going potty. Don’t interrupt the puppy as he potties, but the praise and treat must come immediately after.
- When the puppy is doing his business in an appropriate spot, give him a cue such as “hurry up” or “go potty.” That way, when you are in a new environment or when you need him to know that now is the time to go, he will understand that the cue means this is the place to potty.
- Do not let your puppy loose in a fenced yard when you are training. He must be on leash so you can be right beside him. Often people watch from a doorway and reward the puppy after he comes back in the house. This rewards him for coming in, not for pottying outside. Only let your puppy off his leash to play after he goes to the bathroom. This will also teach him that the faster he does his business, the sooner he can play.
- If the puppy does not potty within a few minutes while you have him at his potty spot, put him back in his crate or keep him at your side so you can watch him. Wait five minutes and take him to the spot again. Repeat this process until the puppy does potty either outside or on the designated surface inside. Then have a huge party with lots of praise and treats.
- If you are teaching your puppy to eliminate outdoors, avoid making him go back in the house the minute he potties. Puppies who are taught to go back in right after pottying sometimes hold their bodily functions longer hoping for more outside time. The same can happen if you take your puppy for a walk and immediately head for home the minute he does his business. The puppy may learn that if he wants to go for a longer walk, he just has to hold off pottying for longer.
- Do not leave the puppy in a crate if you are going to be gone longer than he can comfortably hold his bowel or bladder. If you have to be gone more than a few hours when the puppy is young, set up a small pen for him. The pen should be just large enough for a bed or his crate and the potty pads or doggy litter box. This will give him a place to potty and also a clean place to rest.
Tip: If you start out using potty pads indoors, but eventually want your puppy to go outdoors, begin transitioning him by placing the potty pads outside in the area you want him to go. Follow all of the preceding steps, taking him out on leash and praising him as soon as he potties in the new spot. Block access to the area where he was going in the house so that he won’t be tempted to go back to the same spot. Once he is going outdoors on the potty pads without issue, make the pads smaller. Eventually they will be so small, the puppy will be going mostly on the ground. At this point you can take away the potty pads.