House training a puppy is important for the well being of your puppy and for your own sanity. The lack of house training is the number one reason that dogs wind up neglected, abandoned, or in animal shelters, but it’s the failure of the owner – not the puppy.
It’s very important for you to house break your puppy properly. Proper toilet habits need to be established when your puppy is young, since these habits can last a lifetime, and are very hard to break once they’re established. In most cases, true house training can’t begin until your puppy is six months old because puppies younger than that probably lack the bowel and bladder control needed for true house training.
Before they reach that age, puppies should be confined to a small, puppy proofed room during those times when you can’t supervise them. Puppy proofing a room is very similar to baby proofing a room. Just as you would put breakables and possible choking hazards out of reach of a baby, you need to eliminate the potential for your puppy to make a mistake and reduce any potential hazards from the room. That includes removing anything that your puppy might chew on.
The entire floor of the room should be covered with newspaper or some other absorbent material, and the paper should be changed every time it is soiled. Over time, you will notice that your puppy has a preferred spot for using the toilet. Gradually begin reducing the amount of paper you put down – narrowing in on that preferred area.
This preferred toilet area will form the basis of later house training and once your puppy is old enough you’ll begin to train him to exercise bladder and bowel control. You will establish a new toilet area (outside) and begin to train him to control himself until taken outside to the toilet area.
The Do’s of House Training Your Puppy
- When you’re not at home or can’t supervise your puppy, you must be sure the puppy can’t make a mistake. Confine your puppy to a small area that has been thoroughly puppy proofed. Make sure your puppy has unrestricted access to the established toilet area
- When you’re home, physically take the puppy to the toilet area every 45 minutes. Extend the time between potty trips gradually, as your puppy exhibits an ability to control his urges.
- Always provide a toilet area that doesn’t resemble normal floor coverings in your home. Training your puppy to go on concrete, blacktop, grass or dirt is a good idea.
- Reward your puppy every time he eliminates in the established toilet area. You want him to associate relieving himself in the established areas with good things, like treats, toys and praise. A little play time makes a good reward, and will reinforce the early bonding between you and your puppy.
- Keep a set schedule when feeding your puppy, so that your puppy’s need to relieve himself becomes consistent. Provide constant access to fresh, clean drinking water.
- Keeping your puppy in a crate can help your puppy develop self control. Dogs don’t like to soil their immediate living area, and will naturally try to control their need to go.
- It’s important to be patient when house training your puppy. The process of house training could take several months, but it’s much easier to house train right the first time than to retrain a problem dog.
The Don’ts of House Training Your Puppy
- Don’t give your puppy the run of the house until he has been thoroughly house trained.
- but… Don’t totally isolate your puppy while house training, either. Your puppy needs attention and interaction from you.
- Never reprimand or punish your puppy for mistakes. That only leads to fear and confusion in your puppy and will make the process take longer.
- Don’t leave food out all night as your puppy won’t keep to a set feeding schedule on its own, and will eat throughout the night. Random feeding leads to random toilet habits.
House training isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and some dogs are much harder to house train than others. It’s important to be patient, consistent and loving as you train your dog. A rushed, frightened or intimidated dog will be confused and won’t be able to learn the his house training lessons. Once you’ve gained your puppy’s love and respect, you’ll find that house training your puppy is actually easier than you expected.