Teaching your puppy appropriate bathroom habits is all about patience and consistency. “The most common mistake with housetraining is that people let the dog call the shots,” says Debbie Chew, DVM, owner and practicing veterinarian at East Greenbush Animal Hospital in East Greenbush, New York. “But by establishing a routine for meals and potty breaks, your dog will catch on faster, reducing the number of accidents.”
Follow these expert tips to housebreak your puppy.
Stick to a schedule
Puppies should be taken out immediately after waking up, after eating or drinking and during and after play sessions. “Like toddlers, puppies do best on a schedule,” says Chew. Puppies can hold their bladders for about one hour more than their age in months, so a two-month-old pup needs to go out every three hours. That means set your alarm clock during the night and arrange a dog walker during the day if you work, advises the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Establish a trigger phrase
Take your dog outside on a leash to a regular spot. While he is eliminating, repeat a trigger phrase such as “go potty” or “do your business.” It’s a phrase you’ll use over and over to remind him what to do every time he’s let out, even later when he’s grown.
Praise and reward him
Once he’s done, praise him and offer up his favorite, most adored treat. “But wait until he’s finished or you can startle him and he’ll forget what he’s supposed to be doing,” says Chew.
Make her earn her freedom
No pup should have free rein in the house. One option is crate training, which utilizes a dog’s natural instincts not to soil in her den, according to HSUS. Talk to your vet about how to crate train correctly. You can also opt to tether your puppy to you by leash when you’re indoors so she can’t sneak off and leave you a surprise.
Pay attention to her signals
Some dogs scratch at the door, bark, sniff around, circle or begin to squat; others simply stare at you. It takes time to learn your dog’s way of telling you she wants out. If you catch her in the act, say “outside” and whisk her outdoors to her potty spot. Praise and reward if she finishes outside. But never punish or scold your puppy for accidents; that only makes her afraid to eliminate in your presence.
Clean up every trace of accidents
Use an enzymatic cleaner, found at veterinary offices and pet stores, says Chew. Household cleaners do not remove all traces of odors, so your pup will be drawn to the spot again, according to HSUS.
If you’re consistent, your pup should understand the rules by about four months and be completely trained by six months. “But every dog is an individual with his own personality and some take much longer to train,” says Chew. Don’t give up. If you get lazy and relax the rules, you’ll be dealing with accidents for a very long time.
By Arricca SanSone