How do I house train my puppy? What’s the best way to potty train a puppy? Why isn’t my puppy housebroken by now? Why is my puppy still peeing in the house?
House training a new puppy is probably the biggest anxiety new owners have. But honestly, it doesn’t have to be. Potty training a puppy is really only as stressful as you make it. Granted each pup has their own personality and there may be an underlying medical issue (such as a urinary tract infection) that could cause a temporary hiccup, but teaching your puppy to only relieve themselves outdoors is very simple. Notice I said simple, not easy. It does take work, but it’s not as if we’re going to build an Egyptian pyramid here. You CAN do it!
So whether you are reading this blog in an effort to prepare or you’re already stressed out and ready to throw up your hands, let these tips and reminders guide you into your potty training happy place.
#1) Temper your expectations.
Most likely, your puppy has only been living in this world for 8 weeks, and less than that in your home. They’re undergoing many changes in a very short period of time, and while their little sponge like minds are busy soaking up every bit of information they can about what you want and where you want it, an accident is going to happen. It’s inevitable. Just tell yourself that right now and take a deep breath. Give your puppy a break. Give yourself a break. A few accidents on the way to success isn’t going to make or break anything. Trust me. It’s O.K.
#2) Consistency is KEY.
If you aren’t consistent in training- anything- it’s not going to work. You must schedule potty breaks on a recurring basis. You must go to the same potty area each time. You must go with your puppy. You must praise your puppy when he goes. You must make yourself aware of the signals he’s giving that he needs to go. You must set him up for success. Pee pads in the house aren’t going to cut it. Letting them out into the backyard while you do something else in the house isn’t going to work either. There must be a vested habitual interest in helping your puppy learn this skill. Otherwise in 6 months you’re going to be stressed out standing in the local home improvement store trying to decide what carpet you should replace the old stuff with.
#3) Limit space and supervise.
Think of your new puppy as the equivalent of a two year old child. Now, would you allow a 2 year old complete access to the entire house? Of course not. They need supervision. The natural instinct of a dog is to not soil the area in which he or she sleeps. That is why crates are so useful in house training. But crate or not, if you allow your puppy free roam she’s going to pretty much go anywhere the urge hits her. And that’s only teaching her that the house is just as good a place as any to potty. It really won’t matter how often you take her out, the habit has begun. By limiting space and supervising we have the opportunity to become aware of any behavior that signals an urge to go: walking in circles, sniffing the floor decidedly, even the beginning of a squat- these are all opportunities for us to show her the appropriate place to go. Limiting space also allows us to keep rugs, carpets, and other surfaces that may feel like an outdoor texture out of the line of fire.
#4) Encouragement and praise, not fear and punishment.
Not long ago the accepted wisdom for house training a puppy was to create a negative association with going in the house. Rub their nose in it, hit them with a newspaper, throw a can of coins, yell and tell them, “No!” Sadly, many people still believe these are the best methods and I wager they have dogs that either still potty in the house (if they even still have the dog) or are afraid to potty in front of them. Most likely the latter. Punishing a puppy that has an accident after the fact is absolutely pointless. The puppy has no way of making the correlation. Sadly they are being punished and don’t even know why. And punishing your puppy if you catch them in the act is just as stupid. The only thing that will get you is a pup that still goes in the house, only he hides it from you in another room or behind something. If you do catch your puppy in the midst of an accident, don’t scare or punish him. Simply walk over calmly, say, “uh uh”, leash or pick him up (if they are still small), give your ‘potty’ command and take them to the appropriate spot in the yard. Stay with them until they are done and PRAISE!! Everytime your puppy does his business in the right place, be sure to praise him. Even play with him a little. (Playing helps puppies to solidify new information.) But above all, please don’t ever make going potty a stress filled or fearful experience. Your blood pressure will stay normal and your puppy will learn so much more quickly.
I hope these tips help you find your house training zen. Your puppy will benefit and so will you by taking it one day at a time, having realistic expectations, and training with consistency and love.