So you’ve got that puppy home at last, and now have years full of love and fun and affection to look forward to.
Nothing beats those first few days with a new puppy as you get to know each other. However, there’s one thing that is bound to be a wrinkle in this period.
And that is a lack of effective housebreaking.
Amidst all the play and excitement of this beginning, you’re also bound to come upon a few not-so-pleasant discoveries.
And that’s essentially the fact that your new puppy really needs some proper potty-training if this new relationship is to work-out in the long term.
You and your puppy need to dive into this as soon as your pup is able to learn from training.
The reason is simple… it’s one of the first and most basic things a puppy needs to learn growing up. And there’s no one else to teach your puppy but you.
Normally, it’s the puppy’s mother that teaches her to keep her den, home, or sleeping area clean. And the puppies learn through the constant training and correction the mother provides from the get-go.
In other words…
If you want your new pooch to be trained properly, you have to imagine filling in that position in the puppy life. Because going about the process half-heartedly or inconsistently will only make things more difficult and frustrating over time.
Remember… it’s you who has to do the cleaning up!
But don’t worry… in this post, we have compiled all the things you might ever need to know about potty training your puppy through effective housebreaking. From the bare minimum ABC’s of potty-training to the effective use of tools like treats and rewards, crates, and puppy pads.
All you need to know in one comprehensive effective housebreaking bible for puppies.
Click on any of these links below to jump to the category you need to refer:
- House Training a Puppy Basics
- Using Rewards for Proper Training
- Using Treats
- Non – Edible Rewards
- The Best Reward
- Timing is Everything
- Primary and Secondary Reinforcements
- Consistency is Key
- Treats Won’t Be Needed Forever
- Housebreaking Breakthroughs
- 5 Facts Before Housebreaking
- Your Dog Common Scents
- How to Crate Train Your Puppy
- How to Train Your Puppy to Use Puppy Pads
- Again, It’s All About Timing
- Handling Inevitable Accidents
- Be Alert for Special Circumstances
- Advanced Housebreaking Tips
Basics of Housebreaking a Puppy
We recommend that you wait until he’s at least 8 weeks old to begin formal training for effective housebreaking.
Before you begin the formal training lessons with a dog of any age, please plan to follow these keys to success:
- Be Patient. Each dog is unique, and can only learn at his own pace. Some dogs learn quickly; others take more time. Patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to effective housebreaking!
- Be Kind. This goes hand-in-paw with “Be patient.” Don’t lose your temper if your dog doesn’t “get it” right away, or appears to be ignoring you. Please do not punish your dog for not learning quickly enough. As a matter of fact, don’t punish your dog at all. (We’ll be teaching you effective ways to stop or prevent inappropriate behavior—without punishment.)
- Be Flexible. If your dog is struggling to learn, be willing to change your training routine. The location may be too distracting. The time of day may be too close (or far from) feeding time. The length of your training sessions for housebreaking may be too long (or too short). The training exercises may need to be broken down into smaller, simpler steps. Remember, each dog is unique. Be flexible and willing to do whatever you can to help your dog succeed.
- Be Generous. Being generous with your rewards and your time can be the difference between good potty training, and great training with effective housebreaking. Always reward your dog’s correct responses generously. Don’t be stingy with the treats—he’s worked hard and deserves a generous reward! And commit ample time to your training lessons. We’re all busy these days, but this is “quality time” for you and your dog. You’ll both enjoy and benefit from the lessons, so make sure your schedule is adjusted accordingly!
Using Rewards for Proper Training
One of the biggest keys to success with positive reinforcement training is rewarding your dog properly. This means giving him something he loves at exactly the right moment.
Trust me, this is one of the fastest paths to effective housebreaking…
Your first task is to figure out what kind of reward will best motivate your dog.
All dogs are unique individuals. Most dogs are motivated by food that tastes and smells good to them.
Food treats can be very small, which is handy for keeping them in your pocket or a pouch to use during training—and important to maintaining your dog’s caloric intake to healthy levels.
So that’s the form of reward we’ll be using throughout this training.
Be sure what you’re giving your dog is good for him. But don’t rely on the packing of store-bought treats to tell you “Your dog will love it!”.
Strong- smelling meat and cheese treats are usually winners, but many store-bought treats are made primarily of other ingredients. Your dog may not appreciate artificial colors, tastes or smells.
Small morsels of cooked chicken are a popular home-made treat. But keep in mind that what motivates other dogs may not motivate yours. Experiment and find out what he loves to eat.
Non – Edible Rewards
What if your dog isn’t motivated by food (rare, but a possibility)?
You’ll have to find something else that motivates him. You may think a couple of pats on the head are a great reward, but your dog may not.
He might not even like it (most dogs don’t)! Try scratching his belly or some other form of petting.
Again, experiment to find out what your dog loves.
Another form of reward to consider is playing.
Tossing a ball, playing tug-of-war or playfully chasing your dog for a few minutes maybe his idea of heaven.
The Best Reward
Let your dog show you what he truly loves. He’ll do this with his reaction to the reward you offer.
You just need to pay attention to how he responds. Just because he accepts a piece of kibble doesn’t necessarily mean he loves it.
Watch him carefully when you’re giving him a treat, petting, or playing with him. If he looks away or walks away, he probably isn’t all that thrilled about what you’re offering.
But if he gets excited, stays close and begs for more, he’s showing you that he loves it and will be willing to work for that reward in the future.
For initial training, we highly recommend using a food treat as the reward. It’s the easiest to work with and gets the fastest results…just make sure your dog really likes it!
Timing is Everything
After you figure out the form of reward, the second key to positive reinforcement is timing.
This is critical during early training: you must give the reward immediately after your dog performs the correct action.
This means within half-a-second! Your response to his correct action must be clear and it must be instant.
If you pause in stunned amazement that he actually did something right, then snap out of it and give him a treat several seconds later, you’ve blown it.
You must train yourself to deliver instant gratification to your dog. Do this consistently, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your dog learns.
Here’s another important tip about timing: don’t make your training lessons too long.
Like humans, dogs can become bored by repetition. Bored students don’t learn very well. So to keep the training sessions effective, don’t make them outlast your dog’s attention span.
Each dog is different, so you’ll need to be alert and notice when his attention starts wandering. Try for a 10-minute session and see how that goes. Shorten it if necessary.
Don’t lengthen it to more than 15 minutes. Repeating a short session two or three times a day will be much more effective than having one long session each day.
Primary and Secondary Reinforcements
The instant reward you and your dog choose will be your primary reinforcer. A primary reinforcer is something your dog inherently loves. In other words, he was born loving it (treats, tummy rubs).
Another form of reward is known as a secondary reinforcer.
A secondary reinforcer is something your dog must learn to love and be motivated by.
Praise is an excellent example. Puppies are not born loving a phrase such as “Good girl!” After all, it’s just noise to them. They must learn to associate that noise with love.
A popular form of secondary reinforcement is clicker training.
A clicker is a handheld device that makes a distinctive clicking sound. That sound is basically a substitute for verbal praise.
When used properly, your dog will learn to associate the clicking sound with love. We prefer using verbal praise versus a clicker, simply because your voice is something you’ll always have with you.
If you prefer to use a clicker, just remember to mentally substitute “click” when the lessons say verbal praise or “Good!”
Consistency is Key
Regardless of whether you use your voice or a clicker, the most effective way to train your dog is to use a combination of primary and secondary reinforcers that are consistent.
If you’ll use your voice instead of a clicker, choose a phrase and use it exactly and consistently.
Dogs are not people, remember? Words are just noise to them.
They have no idea that “Good girl,” “Great job,” “Way to go Molly” or other phrases all mean they did the right thing.
Pick your praise phrase, and make sure you (and others in your family) use that exact phrase or word every single time.
Then, several times a day, say your praise word or phrase and immediately give your dog the primary reinforcer (such as the treat you know he loves).
Do about five repetitions, two or three times a day, for two days. You can also use your praise word or phrase when rubbing her belly, when she’s eating her dinner or any other time you’re sure she’s enjoying something she loves.
Within a few days, she’ll learn to love the secondary reinforcer (the praise phrase or word) and will be eager to hear you say it.
Throughout the training course we’ll use the example of “Good,” but substitute your own choice of secondary reinforcement. Remember to use it—and only it—consistently.
During early training, the combination of the primary and secondary reinforcement will be extremely powerful and effective… more so than using either form of motivation alone.
Treats Won’t Be Needed Forever
Don’t worry that you’ll have to carry treats around in your pocket all the time to get your dog to behave.
As your dog learns, her obedience will eventually become habitual. You won’t need to consistently use treats or other primary reinforcement for those behaviors beyond that point. (You’ll need to use them consistently whenever teaching something new, though.)
It will always be a good idea to continue using the secondary reinforcement (“Good!” or whatever). You’re basically thanking your dog for doing what you asked… simple common courtesy is always a good thing!
We’ll tell you when you can start decreasing the use of treats or other primary reinforcement.
But for now, and whenever you’re teaching your dog something new, be sure to use both forms of positive reinforcements as instructed.
OK, now that you know the basics of rewards and timing, you’re ready to begin training your best friend!
Effective Housebreaking Breakthroughs
Effective housebreaking is, by far, the most important element of a loving, lifelong relationship between you and your dog.
If you don’t teach your new best friend not to pee and poop in your house, he won’t be your friend for long!
Fortunately, housebreaking a puppy (or adult dog) isn’t complicated.
All you have to do is prevent peeing and pooping in the house, and reward peeing and pooping outside.
While putting this simple concept into practice isn’t difficult, it does require your diligence, dedication, and patience. But the rewards are definitely worth the effort!
We’ll provide some general information about dogs on which our effective housebreaking techniques are based, explain the benefits of puppy pads or crate training, and then give you the step-by-step process for housebreaking your dog.
5 Facts Before Housebreaking
Here are five facts that will guide your housebreaking training:
Fact 1: Adult dogs can be housebroken the same as puppies.
If you adopt an adult dog, you may not have to worry about housebreaking if he has already been properly trained.
Dogs—even the smartest ones—do not naturally know it’s wrong to go potty indoors.
They must be trained, and most adult dogs are. But you can’t assume this is the case.
If he was always kept outdoors, raised in a cage at a puppy mill, or improperly trained by a previous owner, you will need to start fresh and housebreak him using the same basic techniques as you would for a puppy.
Adult dogs don’t have to go as often as puppies, though, which will make the training much easier for you. (On the other hand, adult accidents will create bigger messes!)
Fact 2: Puppies have limited bladder & bowel control.
A puppy younger than 20 weeks old will need to go potty once every hour when awake. A very young puppy (under 12 weeks old) will need to go more often—every 30 minutes or even more frequently.
For an older puppy, a general rule for determining the number of hours he can go without going potty is to take his age in months and add one.
So a four-month-old could hold it for about five hours. Small breeds can’t hold it as long; large breeds can hold it a bit longer. Remember, this is a general rule; your puppy’s control may vary.
When sleeping, puppies can wait longer. But don’t think a puppy who can hold it for 6 hours while sleeping can hold it that long while awake. He can’t.
Fact 3: Dogs like to sleep in a clean area.
If given a choice, dogs, like people, will never sleep in an area that is soiled with pee or poop. In the wild, “dogs” (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.) sleep in a den and go outside to relieve themselves.
Their pups learn to do the same. Because dogs will try their best not to soil their sleeping area, your puppy is less likely to pee or poop in a small “den.”
Confining him to that “den” whenever you can’t watch him will guarantee he doesn’t get a chance to begin the bad habit of going anywhere else in your house.
Fact 4: Dogs do best when kept to a routine schedule.
Feeding your dog on a set schedule will help him to go potty on a regular schedule.
If you let your dog eat and drink whenever he wants, you’ll be less able to predict when he’ll need to go out. Take him out on a regular schedule, too!
Fact 5: Punishing a dog after he has an accident in the house is pointless and may do more harm than good.
Your dog will not understand that you are upset about something that happened in the past—even if it was just a minute or two ago.
He will think he’s in trouble for what he’s doing at the instant you discover the mess and go ballistic… whether he’s happily coming up to greet you or sitting quietly.
This, obviously, is the wrong message to give your dog.
Your Dog Common Scents
A dog relies on his nose and scent to find “the bathroom.”
If a dog has gone potty in your house before, this will leave behind a chemical scent that says “this is the potty place!”
This scent will be hard for your dog to resist. That’s why you should make sure there is no odor of urine or feces in the house before beginning to housebreak a new dog or puppy.
Do not use a cleaning solution that contains vinegar or ammonia (the scent is too close to urine scent). You can use baking soda or club soda… or purchase special odor-eliminating cleaners at a pet supply store.
Equally important to cleaning up the scent of past mistakes is marking rooms with the scent of your happy “pack.”
A dog will be reluctant to go potty where he and his pack (you and your family) live.
That’s why an unhousebroken dog who can’t get outside will often run to a rarely used area of the house, such as a guest room, to go potty.
Once you have removed the scent of urine or feces, spend time in each room with your dog (especially the rooms you rarely use).
Sit on the floor and play with your dog in each room for several minutes each day. Soon the room will be marked with a scent that says to your dog, “this is a no-potty zone!”.
It will be difficult to mark every area of your house this way, and even if you could, this is more of a passive deterrent than a foolproof method to prevent your dog from going potty indoors; additional action is needed, especially for a puppy.
How to Crate Train Your Puppy
If your puppy is free to run all over the house, he’ll go potty whenever he gets the urge instead of learning to hold it.
You can’t watch him closely enough all the time to prevent this. So set him up for success instead of failure.
Either use puppy pads or start crate training.
Remember Fact 3: Dogs Like to Sleep in a Clean Area. By confining your puppy (or dog) to a “den,” you will inhibit him from peeing or pooping (teach him to hold it) since he won’t want to soil his sleeping area.
You’ll also be able to accurately predict when he needs to go potty: immediately after being released from confinement.
We recommend you create a cozy den for your puppy out of a dog crate.
It’s important to pick out the right crate for your pup. Make sure the crate is big enough for your puppy or dog to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie on his side—but not so big that it gives him room to pee or poop in there without lying in it.
Line the crate with a towel you’ve used or a t-shirt you’ve worn (so your scent is on it). Make the crate comfortable for your puppy.
Place the crate in a quiet area, away from distractions (not too close to a window or in a high traffic area of your house), but not away from his “pack” (you and your family).
Some people choose to put the crate in their bedroom, but this may interrupt your sleep as the puppy will likely whine (and/or bark) the first few nights.
Before confining your puppy to his crate, you first need to teach him to enjoy being in it. Say “crate” and toss a few treats into the crate and see if he goes in to get them.
Praising Your Dog Every Effort
Praise him if he goes inside. If he doesn’t go inside, put the treats on the lip/entrance of the crate, instead.
Gradually move treats farther into the crate until he goes all the way inside to get them. Do not close the door; let him go in and out as he pleases.
Make it a fun game by tossing treats into the crate a few times in a row, off and on throughout the day. Say “crate” whenever you want him to go in, and praise him when he does.
After he appears comfortable with the crate and eagerly runs in to get the treats, shut the door for a second after he goes in… then open it and let him out.
Do that a few times. Then try shutting the door and leaving it shut as you feed him a few treats through the door. Then let him out.
The next step is to stuff a hollow chew toy (such as a Kong®) with something delicious.
Let your puppy sniff the stuffed chew toy and then place it in the crate. Shut the door with your puppy on the outside.
Usually, it takes just a few seconds for your puppy to beg you to open the door and let him inside. Say “crate,” let him into the crate, praise him for going inside, and shut the door.
Once he’s busy licking the treat out of the chew toy, walk away.
Return before he finishes licking all the goodies out of the toy, and open the door. Don’t let him take the chew toy out of the crate; take it from him.
Next, tie the freshly stuffed chew toy to the inside of the crate and leave the door open.
Your puppy can then choose whether he wants to remain outside or go into his crate and start licking the treat from his chew toy.
Most puppies choose to rest happily inside the crate and work on the stuffed chew toy. He may even fall asleep in there when he’s done. Close the door.
Using Crate Naps When Your Puppy Get Sleepy
Speaking of sleeping, you’ll also want to put your puppy in the crate when he’s sleepy.
Encourage him to get into his crate with treats and by saying “crate” when you notice he’s about to fall asleep. Close the door after he goes in.
If you find him already asleep, pick him up and put him inside, as gently as you can. Close the door.
With several instances of this pre-conditioning, some puppies will quickly accept being confined in their crate at night; others will whine or bark like mad to be let out.
Sometimes putting a cover over the crate will help your puppy to settle down and go to sleep.
Ignore a puppy’s immediate whining and barking to be let out, otherwise, you’ll teach him that whining and barking is the key to getting what he wants (very bad idea).
Most puppies will settle down after a few minutes and go to sleep.
If he starts whining after being quiet for a while, he may need to go potty.
You should take him outside, but don’t let him out of the crate as he’s whining. Wait a moment to see if his whining pauses, and then quickly open the door and take him outside.
If he doesn’t pause on his own, make some sort of noise that will cause him to stop whining and listen.
Then get him out right away before he starts whining again.
Use the crate at night and during the day whenever you’re unable to watch your puppy or have him outside.
Do not use the crate as “punishment.”
If you scold your puppy and then lock him in the crate, he’ll associate the crate with being punished. You want him to think of his crate as his comfortable den—not a jail cell.
Follow these steps, and after just a few days your puppy will consider the crate to be his safe, cozy den and will happily rest inside.
How to Train Your Puppy to Use Puppy Pads
Puppy pads are a great way to help potty train your puppy as well.
You can use this along with the playpen idea that is above, but the puppy pads can allow you to eventually let go of the playpen and let your puppy roam the house while you are gone without having accidents all over the place.
Puppy Pads are great for all dogs and can help to train your puppy to just go in one area while you’re gone.
- Select a suitable area inside your home where your pup will be eliminating. Make sure to place the puppy pad is on the quilted side up.
- When your pet starts to show signs that it needs to go, take your pet to the puppy pad and encourage your pet by using commands words (e. “Go pee! Good boy!”) If your puppy eliminates in a different area of your home, lead your pup back to the pad. Repetition is key.
- Once the pad is fully absorbed, pick the pad up from each of the four corners to conceal it, and then carefully throw the pad away. Make sure to wash your hands after.
- When your puppy becomes comfortable using the training pads regularly, start moving the pad outdoors to get him used to go outside.
- Do not punish your pet for accidents – this can be very frightening for them and give you huge setbacks in training the pup. A gentle voice with positive encouragement will go a long way.
These puppy pads are nice because, over time, you can get rid of the crate idea.
Since the puppy has learned how to do their business on the puppy pad, they will keep this in mind, whether they are in the house or not.
You can take them out of the crate and let the puppy have a bit more freedom while you are gone.
You simply leave the pad in a corner that’s acceptable for the puppy, and they will only relieve themselves here rather than all over the house.
Again, It’s All About Timing
Successful housebreaking is all about timing.
Your goal is to have your puppy in the right place (outside) at the right time (when he needs to go) and avoid having him in the wrong place (inside) at the wrong time (when he needs to go).
This will be much easier when you’re able to predict when your puppy needs to go.
Keep Fact 2: Puppies Have Limited Bladder & Bowel Control, in mind. Usually, puppies need to pee right after waking up from a nap and poop within a couple of minutes of that.
If you don’t want to wait around for your puppy to wake up and do his business, you can wake him up when you are ready and the time is right.
Another critical element of timing is that you immediately reward your puppy for doing the right thing (we covered this in our Training With Basics).
When your puppy goes potty when and where you want, your immediate and lavish rewards (praise and yummy treats) will teach him to repeat this correct behavior.
A new puppy (or dog) that is not housebroken should be restricted to one of these three situations at all times:
- Inside under your constant and attentive supervision.
- Outside with you.
- Confined to his crate/den.
Situation 3 is where your puppy should spend most of his time during the housebreaking process.
Did you notice that we did NOT include a situation where you leave your dog outside all the time?
Many people mistakenly think that puppies kept outside will be less trouble—after all, they won’t be peeing and pooping in your house, and they won’t need your constant supervision, right?
But here is the reality: puppies left outdoors and unsupervised for long periods of time seldom become housebroken.
They tend to bark, chew, dig, and escape from your yard.
How to Teach Your Puppy to Go Potty Outdoor
Outdoor puppies also become so excited on the rare occasions when they are allowed indoors (excited puppies tend to pee without warning), that eventually they are no longer allowed inside at all. We don’t want that. You shouldn’t want that.
Here’s how to housebreak your four-legged friend outside:
- Determine where you want your dog to go potty. It’s best to pick a doggy toilet area that’s relatively close to the door, so you and your dog don’t have too far to go when he’s gotta go. Give the location some thought, because after he’s trained, your dog will continue to use this place as his toilet. This is convenient for clean-up time, especially if you have a large yard—and your family won’t have to be wary of little “landmines” when playing outside in the non-doggy- toilet areas.
- Know when your puppy needs to Until your puppy is trained to tell you when he needs to go outside (don’t worry, that will eventually happen), you have to be an expert at deducing this. Sometimes a puppy will need to go within 5 minutes of going! Don’t assume you don’t have to watch him just because he’s just gone potty.
Here’s when you should take a puppy out to go:
- Immediately after he wakes up.
- Immediately after letting him out of his crate/den.
- Every 30 to 60 minutes while he’s awake, based on his age (see Fact 2).
- After he eats or drinks.
- When he’s been doing something for a while (like chewing on a toy), and then gets up and starts looking around.
- He starts sniffing the floor.
- When he goes to an area where he’s gone potty before.
- He’s running around and excited more than usual.
- When he’s looking at or wandering near the door.
- He’s pacing, whining, or starts to squat (duh!).
Note: Male puppies squat to pee just like female puppies (versus lifting a leg) until they are 4-9 months old.
Keep your puppy under your constant and attentive supervision, or confined to his crate, when indoors.
It only takes a couple of seconds for a puppy to squat and pee, so you must watch him very closely.
Don’t stare at him (it’ll make him nervous), but keep an eye on him at all times when he’s out of his crate.
This will be easier if you limit his movements, either by keeping him on a leash or by restricting him to one or two rooms.
Don’t think you can watch TV, wash the dishes, or do something else and still watch your puppy.
If you become distracted or preoccupied, accidents will happen and this will make housebreaking your puppy a longer, more difficult task.
When Messy Accidents Happens
It’s your responsibility to take him outside when he needs to go.
Accidents will be your fault, not your dogs.
Take your dog to his designated toilet area every hour or whenever he needs to go (see Step 2), whichever is less and teach him to go on command.
Every hour, fill your pocket with treats, release your pup from his crate and quickly take him outside to the designated toilet area.
Encourage him to go quickly by enthusiastically calling “Outside, outside, outside!” (If you take your time, he may pee or poop en route.
Also, hurrying him along tends to jiggle his bowels and bladder so that he really wants to go the moment you let him stand still and sniff his toilet area.)
Take your dog out every hour even if he’s old enough to hold it for longer than that.
This practice is as much to train your dog—in the shortest time possible—to use the designated toilet area and go on command as it is for getting him outside in time to pee or poop!
Leading Your Pup to The Correct Place
Use a leash (even if you have a fenced yard) to lead him to the correct place.
This will also get him used to go potty while on the leash.
Stand quietly (don’t stare at him) and wait until he begins to go. (If he stares at you instead of doing his business because he smells treats in your pocket, just look away and pretend to ignore him; eventually, he’ll start sniffing and preparing to go.)
When he does start to go, quietly (so you don’t startle him) say “go potty.” (You can choose another cue. Make it something you wouldn’t mind saying in public. Once you decide, be sure that you and your family use only this word/phrase, and use it every time he goes.)
After your dog is finished, immediately give him a generous amount of tasty treats and lots of enthusiastic praise. Lavish rewards mean quicker results!
These steps are essential.
If you just open the door and let your dog run out by himself to go potty, then give him a treat when he comes back to the house, his housebreaking will take longer and be less successful.
Your dog will think he’s getting the reward for coming back to the house (versus going potty), and you’ll miss the opportunity to train him to go on command.
Spend time playing with or training your puppy, or take him for a nice walk (if he’s old enough).
If you take him outside to go, and then quickly bring him back in and ignore him after he does so, he’ll learn that “after I go, my fun ends!”
Consequently, he may become reluctant to go potty when he’s outside (and end up going inside when he can no longer hold it).
It is much better to praise your puppy for going potty and then take him for a walk as an extra reward for a “job well done.” This extra reward will also encourage him to go potty more quickly.
What If He Doesn’t Go Potty When You Take Him Outside?
If your puppy enjoys the great outdoors but doesn’t go potty within a few minutes, take him back inside, put him in his crate, and try again in 10 minutes or so.
Repeat the process until he does go. Your puppy will learn that if he doesn’t go potty when you take him outside to do so, he’ll be confined to his crate again (no go, no freedom).
Eventually, he will go in the appropriate place at the appropriate time, and you will be able to give him appropriate rewards!
Control what goes in so you can predict when it will come out.
What goes into a puppy will come out with predictable timing (depending on the age and size of your dog).
Feeding your dog on a set schedule will help him to go potty on a regular schedule.
Generally, a puppy will need to go potty about 15 minutes after eating or drinking. If you let your dog eat and drink whenever he wants, you’ll be less able to predict when he’ll need to go out.
Feed your puppy at the same time each day. Leave the food there for ten minutes or so, then pick it up and put it away if he hasn’t finished it.
A puppy younger than three months should be fed three times a day; older puppies and dogs should be fed twice a day.
Do not leave water out all day and night; put it down at regular intervals and pay attention to how much he drinks. Don’t let him drink water after 7 p.m.
Feeding dry food is better than canned food, which contains more liquid.
Handling Inevitable Accidents
If you follow the steps in this report, you’ll have fewer accidents—but they will happen. Expect them.
Don’t get upset at your dog when an accident happens. Instead, try to determine why it happened.
Did you get distracted when you should’ve been watching him?
Did you forget to take him out at the right time?
Figure out what you did wrong, so it doesn’t happen again.
Despite what many people believe, dogs do not intentionally pee or poop in your house because they are angry, lonely, or want to “get back at you” for something. Dogs don’t think of pee or poop as something “nasty” to be used out of spite.
And the so-called look of “guilt” or cowering in “shame” when you scold him is actually your dog’s way of showing appeasement and submitting to your obvious anger.
If you do not actually catch your puppy in the act, do nothing (except clean it up).
Do not—repeat—do not rub his nose in it, hit him, yell at him, shake him, or punish him in any way. Dogs don’t think about the time the way humans do.
Your dog will not understand that you are upset about something that happened in the past—even if it was just a minute or two ago.
What If You Do Catch Him in The Act?
If you catch your dog squatting and about to go potty inside the house, make a sudden, surprising sound—such as slapping the wall—not to scare him, but to get his attention so that he momentarily stops what he’s doing.
Then urgently encourage your puppy to run outside with you. “Outside, outside, outside!” And finally, reward your puppy lavishly for going potty in the right place.
In any case, be sure to clean up all accidents quickly and thoroughly. You must eliminate any lingering scent so it doesn’t invite your puppy back for a repeat performance.
How Long Before He’s Housebroken?
When can you safely start leaving your puppy or dog alone in the house for a while? It depends on many things, including his age, size and—most importantly—your diligence in training him!
In general, if you follow these housebreaking guidelines, your dog should be making good progress within two months.
But some dogs learn quickly while others take more time. Gradually increase the amount of time you allow your puppy to be indoors, out of the crate, and monitor his progress.
Adult dogs generally need to go out at least once every four hours—first thing in the morning, around midday, late in the afternoon, and before going to sleep for the night.
If you can’t get home to let your puppy or dog out often enough, consider hiring a pet sitter.
Expect accidents and setbacks; they’re normal. Continue following the above steps and be patient.
Be Alert for Special Circumstances
There are a few reasons why it might be particularly difficult to housebreak a dog.
Dogs who were raised in puppy mills or pet stores, or who were regularly confined without the opportunity to go potty away from their sleeping area, will take longer to housebreak and require more patience and understanding from you.
Sudden changes in dog food brands or overindulgence in treats or table scraps can cause diarrhea.
There may be physical reasons, such as a urinary infection. Be sure to get your dog checked thoroughly by your vet.
Advanced Housebreaking Tips
Using a Clicker
As a dog owner, you should be familiar with the clicker. A clicker is wonderful not just for house training, but also for all manners of obedience training.
Not bad, considering it’s just a small device that you hold in your hand to make a sharp clicking or cracking sound.
Here are some tips to help you learn how to use this tool properly:
You use a clicker with a food treat. This is mandatory. You press it to make a single click, and then you always pair it with a food treat.
Just the clicking alone isn’t enough, and it will only disappoint your when he realizes there’s no treat for him.
Remember, when it comes to house training, consistency is key.
You use the clicker as a sort of signal to indicate which action is being rewarded. You press the clicker when he does his business in the designated area, and then you give him his treat.
When that happens, he will learn which act is being rewarded.
You can use it for other training goals aside from potty training.
For example, you can reward behaviors, such as:
- When he looks at you every time you call his name. This is a reward for him when he recognizes his name. It will make it easier when you call him.
- When he actually sits when you say “sit”. Sometimes pups can be rowdy, and their breathing may not be able to handle all the activity. You can then teach him to just sit down and relax.
- When you teach him to get “down”. You just click at the precise moment his elbows hit the floor. This is another rest exercise for your pup.
- When he drops or gives an item he has in his mouth. This can even save him from distress when he has something in his mouth that can choke him. And it saves you from distress when he has your favorite shoe in his mouth.
- When he enters his crate. The use of a crate can also help him relax, and it also helps with house training.
- When he stops whining or barking. This is the sort of behavior which must be discouraged. The best way to do that is not through punishment, but by immediately rewarding the pup when he stops doing it.
- When he uses the puppy pads. Right when he uses the pads for his business, click and immediately reward him for proper housebreaking.
Now the use of the clicker is not permanent. You can phase out the use of a clicker, but this must be done very gradually.
Maybe you can click 90% of the time when you are happy with him because of what he’s done. Then you can reduce the frequency as time goes by.
Sooner or later, he will do his business in the designated area because he wants to keep you happy, and because he’s used to it. It’s now a habit for him, and he does it with or without a clicker or a treat.
Basically, the clicker is another signal of affection. It’s like cuddling or the treats you give him when your pet does something right.
But the click indicates exactly what behavior is being rewarded because you click it at the precise moment he does what you want. It allows him to focus on the particular act you are trying to reward and reinforce.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Dogs are very sensitive to human emotions.
You should never shout at your puppy. Anger and shouting can be quite traumatic for a little pup. In the end, you are only teaching your puppy to fear you.
Remember that soiling and peeing are but natural bodily functions. Your pup should never associate any negative emotions with these natural functions.
Instead of getting angry, take the time to calm yourself. And instead of shouting, speak in an assertive manner.
That way the puppy will recognize that you are the authority in the pack. The little fella will then learn to respect your rank.
Since you have shown your pup that you don’t like the mess, you should clean it up and bring your pup to your chosen relieving area.
Right then and there allow your pup to pee or defecate. When they do as they should then give them praise.
You can even give your puppy a treat to reinforce the idea that relieving themselves in that place is the right thing to do.
Housebreaking is Just a Matter of Routine
Take time to observe your pup.
During housebreaking, find out how long it takes for the little furry fella to digest the food and drink and then be ready to relieve himself.
If you use a crate, you will know that he wants to go out to potty when he paws around, sniffs the ground, whines, and turns around as if looking for something.
If you see these behaviors then take your pup out to the relieving area and let him do his business there.
In case of a false alarm, then bring your puppy back into the crate. That will help him remember that when it’s crate time, the only time he will go out is to when he has to pee or when he has to defecate.
The good news is that puppies catch on the routine one way or another. You just need to be consistent and patient with the way you treat your pup.
Every time you have a successful trip outside, you should celebrate it. Praise your pup, pat him, and play with him. Give away a treat if you still have some.
Other than peeing and poop time after meal hours, note that some puppies need to go every hour or every two hours. Well, that will be the case for younger pups. Older pups can hold on to it a lot longer and they tend to be more disciplined.
Watch Your Energy Levels
A stressed pup can also be very hard to train and control.
Cesar Milan, also known as the Dog Whisperer, has said at one time that dogs are also sensitive to their owner’s energy levels.
Your puppy will sense if you are rushing. It will also sense if you are nervous. It can definitely sense your impatience.
That means you really have to mind the tone of your voice when you give your commands.
Cesar says that a squeaky tone or even a loud tone of voice can stress out your puppy, and that will make housebreaking a lot more difficult than it should be.
Make Your Pup Feel Safe and Loved
A stressed pup will be very difficult to train. Make sure he feels safe in his environment and loved and cared for the family.
Everything will feel relaxed – everything is okay, and it’s safe. This will also strengthen the bond between you and your pup.
That is why the first chapter of this book dealt with puppy-proofing your home. The safer your home feels for your puppy, the better and easier it will be to train him.
The 6 Time Rule
On average, your pup needs to relieve himself at least 6 times each day. That’s the average number of trips to the relieving area that you will have to make.
It takes patience but it will be better for you and your dog in the long run. You can count each day how many times you have taken your pup outside.
That way you can time each trip and estimate just how many trips you still need to make.
Chewing and Uncontrolled Peeing
Pups will chew on anything.
Keep important things away from his reach.
Pay attention to the energy level you’re showing your pup especially when you start your day. Most people show a lot of affection when they see their puppy.
That is a mistake especially when you’re housebreaking your pup. That is not what its mom would do if she was raising the pup. The mommy dog would show calm assertiveness – and you should too.
So, when should you show affection for your dog? The answer is after the pup has had some exercise and after the pup has shown a shred of discipline. It’s the pack order of things.
Showing excited affection first thing in the morning will only encourage your pup to wet themselves excitedly.
Note that there may also be a medical issue at hand when your pup pees uncontrollably. If the tip above doesn’t work, take your pup to the vet to rule out any possible illness.
If you’re housebreaking a puppy, remember he doesn’t know anything yet. If you’re housebreaking an adult dog, there may be some old habits he has to “unlearn” first.
Be patient, be consistent, and be encouraging. A few weeks of dedicated effort on your part will result in a lifetime of clean floors and a beautiful relationship with your dog.