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You imagine your puppies’ anticipation for the homecoming of his new best friend. The moment has arrived. You open the door, walk in, waiting to be welcomed by your anxious buddy, only to see his tail swishing back and forth in a puddle of piddle. Going to the bathroom is instinct, but where to go is taught! Training your puppy is a necessity if we want our homes and their contents to remain viable. Housebreaking is the first set of hurdles that will need to be conquered with your new puppy. Potty training can be a successful and rewarding experience for both you and your puppy, but, if done the wrong way, will be frustrating for you and can be detrimental for the puppy. There is no doubt that providing a routine, guidance, and security will help you to achieve your goals of housebreaking your new best friend.
The first step to housebreaking a puppy is developing a routine. Training should start immediately. Like most of us, your puppy will respond better to a routine. He will start to know what and when something is expected of him. If you don’t follow the schedule, obviously, neither will your pup. The perfect age to start is at least eight weeks of age. Feed your pup on a timed schedule every day. The full stomach will put pressure on the bladder and bowels. After every meal he should be taken outside on a leash to a designated area to defecate and urinate, so he understands this is serious business. You want your puppy to focus on the task at hand, which is going to the right area and providing a gift for us! However, don’t distract or talk to him until he has finished. If your puppy isn’t going potty immediately, don’t worry; it may take ten to twenty minutes in the beginning until he understands this process. Puppies will need to potty about every fifteen to twenty minutes. He will need to be taken out when wakes up from a nap, during play and before he is going to be put in his crate for bedtime, or if he will be crated for any extended length of time. Making sure you supervise your pup at all times in your home will be the best way for him to avoid making a mistake. Keep him on a leash or in a small confined area, within your visibility. This way he will be accessible to you if he looks like he might have an accident. Observe your puppies’ behavior. You’ll learn to tell the difference from the puppy “who is curious” about exploring, to the puppy who “thinks this is a good spot on the carpet.” Some of the signs are pacing, sniffing, and circling. If you see any of these signs, take action immediately. Outdoors he goes, to the designated area, regardless the weather! You might learn to keep a pair of muck boots at the back door. After a couple of days you will be able to tell if your puppy is catching on or just in the right place at the right time! When your puppy is “taking care of business,” use specific words such as, ”go potty,” “ go pooh-pooh,” “ get busy,” every time. He will start to familiarize those words with the duties being performed. When he has accomplished the goal, reward him. “Praise” is your way of saying “good boy.”
With guidance from you, your puppy will start to understand what is expected of him. Patience and consistency is the key. Giving rewards at the exact time is everything. This can be done by pats on the head, scratches, verbally, favorite toys, and best of all, treats. Don’t forget to take the treats with you in your pockets, so you are ready to reward. Dogs associate with the now, not the future or the past! Rewarding or punishing for accidents after the fact doesn’t make sense. Your pup is most likely going to have an accident. If you catch him in the “act,” give him a firm “no”, and outside he goes. If it is after the fact, don’t scold or chase him. Don’t ever hit your puppy! He will be confused as to why you are upset. Dogs want to please us. They understand very quickly when they have done wrong, but may not understand why. You can emotionally frighten and scare him. This could lead to submissive wetting. This is uncontrollable urinating when being disciplined. You have to accept the fact the accident happened because you were inattentive! Simply soak up the urine, remove the poop, or both, wash the affected area and spray with an enzyme destroyer. Hopefully, the puppy won’t be able to smell his previous mistake.
Security is an important part of your puppies training. If you aren’t able to supervise your puppy because of going to work, running errands, or etc., put him in a crate. This will be a sanctuary, a safe haven, or den, which will comfort him. He will consider this a place for him to go where he cannot get hurt, where he can rest, or even hide from those children who are squeezing the breath from him! Your crate should be only large enough for the puppy to stand, to turn, and lie down in. Crate sizes vary. Try to get one that is multi-sized, sturdy, and can fold. Too much room means he will be able to eliminate on one side and sleep on the other. Too small means he’ll be uncomfortable. Don’t feed or water him in the crate. This will lessen the chance he will urinate or defecate in the crate. Don’t expect him not to have an accident if he is going to be left for some amount of hours. If you work, have a plan implemented for you or someone to check on the pup every two to four hours, for exercise, a drink of water, and to go potty. He is too young to control his bladder and bowels. Crates should be used for short periods of time. When correctly and humanely used, crates have many advantages for both you and your puppy.
Remember that crates are a training aid, not babysitters! Understand that puppies and dogs are live emotional animals. They require attention, mentally and physically. They can become very destructive and unhappy without guidance.
Housebreaking your puppy takes consistency and commitment from you. The process of housebreaking can take up to four months of age, sometimes longer. Each puppy is unique and all learn at a different pace. It will take some time for your puppy to learn where the expected potty is, but he will learn. In the end it will be a rewarding accomplishment for you and your puppy. You will have more trust in him, and return he will be awarded with more freedom to play and socialize. You will both have a better understanding of each other’s needs and expectations.