There are few things that are more joyous in life than bringing home a new puppy. However, with that new puppy comes the responsibility of housetraining. Unless you want to spend a great deal of time cleaning up your dog’s indoor accidents, it’s important to begin training early and with seven simple steps that any member of the family can accomplish.
Initially Limit Your Puppy’s Space
For the first few days, limit the space in which your puppy can roam. The more freedom you give him to roam the house, the more places he will find to urinate and defecate. Keep him in one room or crate him until you can establish a routine, especially if you cannot watch him as he wanders.
Create a Routine Right Away
Dogs crave a routine and learn from your cues. When you get up in the morning, take your puppy out for a potty break. If he goes, praise him lavishly. Take him out again about fifteen or twenty minutes after he eats breakfast—you’ll be surprised how fast it goes through. Throughout the course of the day, your dog should be taken out at the same time and taken to the same place so he starts to understand the routine and responds to it more quickly.
Praise is Key
When it comes to potty training your pup, praise is key. Dogs live in the moment, so shouting at your puppy or punishing him after you find his accident is only going to confuse him. If you catch him in the act, remove him outdoors and place him where you want him to go. Even if he finishes there, praise him. Never hit your puppy: it will make him fearful and more prone to biting as he gets older.
When you take your puppy out to potty, use a simple command, such as “go potty” or another short phrase just before he goes. Don’t forget to praise him when he does. Using short commands will reinforce the behavior more quickly and will avoid confusion for the dog. Make sure you use the same command every time, and he will come to associate the words with the act.
Limit Water Intake Before Bed
Small puppies, especially toy breeds, can’t hold their bladder for more than a few hours. At night, put up the water dish a few hours before bed and take your puppy out one last time before bed so that they can sleep with an empty bladder. Don’t worry about the dog getting dehydrated: if the house is cool enough, they can go without water overnight without it harming them.
Clean Accidents Thoroughly
If your puppy does go in the house and you don’t find it right away, make sure that you clean it thoroughly. Even if you can’t smell the odor anymore, your puppy might be able to, and he will return to that place again. Use bleach-based cleaners to clean up accidents or better still, buy a cleaning spray from the pet store that is specifically made to break down urine odor.
Involve the Family
Make sure that your spouse and kids know the puppy’s routine and that they follow it if you’re not at home. Since consistency is the secret to house training a puppy, everyone must be on the same page if the dog is to understand the schedule. Encourage young children to get involved in order to teach them the responsibilities involved in caring for a pet so that they can learn how to care for the dog as they grow up together.