Teaching a puppy to eliminate outside is one of the most important duties for the puppy’s owner. Neglecting to housetrain your puppy can lead to odors in your home and other unpleasant consequences. More importantly, it can damage the bond between you and your puppy.
It is important to understand that housetraining requires a great amount of patience and attention. Puppies do not automatically know that they are supposed to eliminate outside. This behavior must be learned. If they are not taught to go outside to eliminate, they will learn to prefer another substrate such as carpet, tile, bedding, or other surfaces that humans believe are unacceptable.
Housetraining your puppy
The most important aspect of housetraining is supervision. Until you are confident that your puppy will not eliminate in the house he must never be left alone with free range of your house. If you are doing an activity that prevents you from immediately attending to your puppy (talking on the phone, washing dishes, etc.), he must be confined in a crate or other small space.
For every time your puppy soils in the house, the longer it will take to teach him to go outside. Tags or a bell on his collar will help you find him more easily if he does get out of sight.
At the onset of housetraining, take the puppy outside every one to two hours. Puppies have high metabolisms and small bladders, so they have to go more often than older dogs. Take the puppy outside 15 to 45 minutes after eating anything from a treat to a full meal.
Eating stimulates the intestines and may cause the puppy to defecate. Also, take the puppy outside after he sleeps or plays. Yes, you will need to take the puppy outside all the time until he learns some control.
When you take your puppy outside, stay very close to him so you can quickly reward him when needed. Leash walking is highly recommended. Allow him to sniff because this is a very important step in the process to dogs. As soon as the puppy urinates or defecates, give the puppy a delicious treat and lots of praise.
You can even chain squatting with a command. If you notice your puppy is about to squat, say a command such as “go potty”. It doesn’t matter what the command is as long as it is always the same. Do not play before he urinates/defecates because you want your puppy focused on elimination. Reward your pup with a longer walk and play after he eliminates. If you take your puppy inside immediately, he may “hold it” longer so he can spend more time outside.
Punishment is a very ineffective way to housetrain your puppy and it will hurt the bond between the two of you. Older training methods recommend that if you find urine or feces in your house, you should put the puppy’s nose over it and scold him. This is futile because dogs cannot make the connection between your anger and the act of them eliminating in the house. You may think he looks remorseful if there is a mess in the house, but he anticipates your anger in association with the urine/feces itself – not the act that caused the mess.
If you do not catch your puppy in the act, you are too late. Punish yourself instead, effectively clean up the mess, and then pay closer attention to your puppy. Instead, you must be proactive by taking the puppy outside before he eliminates in the house. If you observe him sniffing the carpet, circling, squatting, or eliminating, make a noise to startle the puppy and quickly take him outside. Then reward him for eliminating outside.
Do not expect your puppy to be housetrained in a few days or even weeks. Most puppies take months before they are completely housetrained. If you pay attention to your puppy, prevent accidents before they happen, and reward your puppy for eliminating outside, he will learn that it is much more rewarding to go outside rather than inside the house.