Housebreaking your Puppy

Getting Started

Unless you plan to make your puppy an outdoor dog, he's going to have to be housebroken. This is probably one of the hardest things during training, both for your puppy and you. Be prepared to scrub carpet and mop up tiles a few times a day. But don't worry, it won't last forever. With the proper training, your puppy will be doing his business outside in no time. Just remember, patience, commitment and supervision are essential to successful training.

There are many methods to housebreak your dog. You should choose the one that best suits you and your living and work situation. For example, for someone who works long hours and doesn't have the time to constantly supervise a puppy, crate training is recommended. On the other hand, if there is someone in the house for a majority of the day, then you could get away with simply keeping an eye out for your puppy's potty signal (which usually involves sniffing around a certain area) and taking him outside every time you spot it. The choice is yours.

The Basics

It's up to you to teach your puppy where to go. Once a puppy starts going in a specific place, the smell from the last time he peed will keep him coming (which is why it's so important to thoroughly clean up your puppy's pee when he goes inside). Be sure that this designated place is somewhere you want, not right outside your doorstep. You can do this by always taking him to the same spot and congratulating when he goes. Another tip is to choose a phrase like "go potty" to say every time you take your puppy to that spot. In time, he will grow to associate this word with peeing and may even do it on command.

Always concentrate on positive reinforcement rather than negative. When your puppy goes potty outside, make a big deal out of it: clap, cheer, say "good dog" and even offer a treat. That way, he will associate going outside with good things. If he has an accident inside, don't be cruel and don't lose your patience. Instead, simply say a firm "No!" and maybe even point the finger for emphasis. Do this only if you caught your puppy in the act. If it's hours after, he won't remember and won't understand why he's being punished.

Puppies will need to pee A LOT. A six- to eight-week-old puppy will have to go every one to three hours. Older puppies will be able to hold it for a little longer but always take your puppy outside after:

  1. Waking up (in the morning or from napping)
  2. Eating (most will have to go an hour after)
  3. Being left alone
  4. Playing
  5. Before bedtime

Crate Training

Crate training comes in handy not only for housebreaking your puppy but also when you have to leave him alone for extended periods of time. Instead of having to worry about whether your furniture will be in one piece when you get home, your puppy will be inside his crate and your furniture safely out of reach.

Crate training works for housebreaking because dogs instinctively don't like going in the same place where they sleep. By being placed in a crate just big enough for the dog to lie in, he will be forced to control his bladder for a longer period of time because he won't want to soil the area he lies in. This teaches puppies to hold their bladders instead of going right when the urge first comes. Be sure to always take a puppy outside before putting him in his crate and right after taking him out. Crate training is said to cut housebreaking time in half so it may be worth a try.

A crate can also become a puppy's comfort zone. To achieve this and make your puppy actually like being in his crate, help him associate the crate with positive things such as toys and treats. You can even hide a biscuit every now and then. Play with your puppy inside the crate and be sure not to lock him in before he's grown comfortable. As much as your puppy may grow to like his crate, never keep him locked up all day. Try to keep it below five hours and never exceed the time he can hold his bladder. In time, you will be delighted you started crate training. To find out more about crate training, visit: The Humane Society

Obedience Training

Obedience training is very important in the relationship between you and your dog. After all, you want your dog to listen to you and obey your commands. When obedience training fails, you get a dog that doesn't listen, runs away, is impossible to walk and is a nuisance. Not only is this frustrating for you, but it can also be dangerous for your dog. So obedience is another important aspect of training your dog.

A few of the most important commands your dog should learn are: sit, stay, leave it, come, and heel.The best way to teach these commands is through positive reinforcement and a lot of patience. If you don't feel you can do it, there's always obedience classes for dogs of different ages and levels. PetSmart offers plenty. You can find out more through their Web site PetSmart Training.