Housebreaking

There’s a reason one common dog name is Spot, and it has nothing to do with the dog’s color patterning. Some people believe the reason God made puppies so cute is because so many other things about them are so annoying. Perhaps the most trying thing your puppy will do is relieve himself in your house. Housebreaking could test the patience of Job, but patience and consistency are the keys to successfully training your dog as to where his bathroom is located.

Potty-training takes time and patience.

Start Early

Housebreaking should be started as soon as you bring your puppy home, but you need to be aware that bladder and bowel control muscles are not fully developed until at least 12 weeks of age. Even though your puppy is not capable of holding his urine and feces when you first bring him home, you should begin potty training right away anyways. If the puppy urinates on your carpet, you will never completely get rid of the smell, and that smell will draw the puppy to the same spot again and again, even when his bladder muscles do become fully functional.

Establish a Routine

It is best to establish a routine early in your puppy’s life. You will definitely want to take him to his designated potty spot after each meal. A full stomach puts pressure on both the colon and the bladder, giving him the urge to go. Taking him outside when you know he will have to go allows you to “catch” him being good and praise him as if he has just won Best in Show. Puppies so want to please you! They will learn quickly that one way to get attention is to go to the bathroom at the spot you have shown them. Other than mealtimes, lead your puppy to his bathroom any time he begins turning in circles, sniffing for a place to go. If the dog is showing this behavior, don't stop to put his coat on or wait until the next commercial before taking him out. If he's ready to go, get him outside so he can succeed in doing what you want him to. He will be so excited when you tell him how well he's done!

Puppies Have Tiny Bladders

Remember that puppies have VERY small bladders. They may need to go outside as much as every hour or two. Set up a schedule that includes bathroom breaks after meals and play sessions, first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. You need to be aware that you will probably need to take him out in the middle of the night, as well. Think of it as 3 - 4 weeks of hard work and no sleep in return for a lifetime of no accidents. Much easier than a human infant!

Stick to Business

Bathroom trips outside should be for that purpose only. Do not play with the dog during potty breaks so he knows this is not the time for having fun. He is supposed to do his business. Give the dog a chance to find his preferred spot, by allowing each trip to last at least 10 minutes. He may even choose to go a little bit in several spots, marking his territory, rather than relieving himself all at once.

Pick a Command

When you are leading the puppy outside, say whatever word you have chosen to indicate that he is to do his business. A word such as "outside" or "potty" should be used every time so the dog learns to associate his biological urge with the word. If other family members are helping you to train, make sure everyone is using the same command. Soon, you will be able to suggest to the dog that he relieve himself by using just the command and opening the door. You can also reinforce this by saying "good potty!" when praising the dog for going in the right spot.

Discipline Only Works if You Catch Him in the Act

When your puppy does have an accident in the house, you can only discipline him if you see it happen. Yelling at him an hour later when you step in the puddle will only leave him confused. If you do see him using the bathroom in an inappropriate place, you will want to say “No!” very sharply and forcefully, and then lead him outside immediately. If he has managed to retain any of his waste and gets rid of it outside, you should again praise him. Let him know you are still his best friend, and you have every confidence he will eventually learn.

Discipline him only if you catch him doing it.

A Sharp “No” Should Be Sufficient

You need not use any punishment other than saying, “No!” in a firm voice. Most dogs love disgusting smells, so rubbing his nose in it really isn’t a punishment that will do any good. The only use for a rolled up newspaper when training a dog is to hit yourself over the head for failing to watch the puppy. You would never leave an infant child unattended, so why would you think your infant puppy would be any different? Housebreaking isn’t the only hazard a puppy can face, so he needs your constant attention.

Crating is an Option

If you cannot provide that continual watchfulness, you will need to either get an older dog or buy a crate for the puppy to stay in while you are otherwise occupied. The theory behind crate training is that a dog will not want to soil his bed. His crate should be only large enough for him to turn around in. If you put a small dog in a large crate, he will simply use one end for a bathroom and sleep at the other end. When you let the puppy out of the crate, take him immediately to his designated bathroom spot. No matter how big of a mess he may have made in the crate, praise him lavishly when he goes in the right spot.

Crating isn’t Cruel

Remember that it is not cruel to crate a puppy, although he may whine at first to try to convince you otherwise. Crating a dog protects him and allows him to have greater success in housebreaking because he will try to keep his den clean. If you have reasonable expectations about how long he can remain in the crate without a bathroom break, you can get him outside in time for him to go and allow him to earn your praise and adoration.

His crate should be a safe and comfortable place. He won't want to soil his den.

Companionship is Crucial

Please remember that a crate is not a substitute for human companionship. Your dog wants to spend time with you and will respond more quickly to training if he is getting his needs for playtime, food, water, and companionship met. A dog that is crated all the time will become neurotic and unable to follow the instructions you give him. When you first bring your puppy home, try putting him in the crate for only a short time while you sit nearby. Be sure to place the crate where the dog can see you through the bars of the kennel so he knows you haven’t abandoned him. If you work all day and cannot come home at lunchtime, see if you can find a friend to walk the dog at least once during the day.

Don’t Crate 24/7

If you plan on crating the dog all day and all night, it might be best if you didn’t have a dog. You may have to compromise by crating the dog at night and giving him a small area to roam during the day, preferably one with an easy-to-clean floor. Spread newspapers at one end of the area, put plenty of toys in the middle to keep him busy, then put his water and food dishes at the other end of the area. With any luck, your puppy will use the newspapers because he will not want to soil his toys or eating area. An important element of paper training is to remove only the top layers of newspaper when they are soiled. Leave the bottom layers so the dog can smell his previous efforts, which will stimulate him to go again in the same spot.

Older Dogs Still Need Training

If you are adopting an older dog, it is best to assume that he has not been previously potty-trained, and start as you would with a puppy. Before you ever let the dog enter your house on the first day, take her to her designated bathroom and keep her there until she goes to the bathroom. Praise her excessively so she knows that this is the desired behavior. Keep in mind that the stress of moving, combined with perhaps eating a different brand of food, can cause diarrhea. Your adult dog may need to go outside often, even though she has achieved the muscle control necessary to hold her urine and feces.

Notes on Cleaning

One last note: if your dog is being wormed, be sure to clean up feces immediately after the dog has finished doing his business. This will protect any other pets in your home or neighborhood. Feces that do not contain active worms can be cleaned up as needed to provide the dog a clean place to go, if they are in your own yard. Of course, if your dog goes in a public area such as a dog park or city street, you absolutely must clean it up immediately regardless of whether or not you are worming.

Almost All Dogs Learn

Hang in there! Almost every dog eventually catches on, although some breeds are more stubborn than others. With consistency, positive reinforcement, and plenty of patience, your dog will eventually figure it out. If the dog continues to wet or soil in the house past the age of six months, be sure to check with your vet for any physical problems that may be hampering your efforts.

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Brooke [email protected]
What if you leave him in the crate from like 8-5? Could it still be okay to get a dog?
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This is a good all-around good article, especially for new dog owners, like myself! I would have included if a puppy should have some form of water or food in the crate.
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I have two Boston Terrier puppies, 12 weeks old today. Prissy is almost completely trained. She knows what pp is and where to do it. She will do it every time. Laci on the other hand is very stubborn and will not go on the grass. She prefers the concrete on the lanai. I am having a terrible time with her, but the more I make her stay on the grass until she does it, and praise her, she is getting better.
rajesh rai
thnx so much....dis helped me a lot in training my dog...n takin proper care of him...
Penny
Thaks this is really good stuff
 
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