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Housetraining 101

1. The best way to house-train your puppy is to consistently and generously reward him for going in the right place and prevent him from going in the wrong place.

2. You want to teach your puppy the ‘rewarding’ place to go and to give him plenty of opportunities to eliminate there.  This means pro-actively taking him out every hour or so when he’s awake, after naps, after eating and after playing, as well as first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  Stay pro-active about bringing your puppy outside – don’t expect him to let you know he has to go.  As you build up a consistent reward history for him going in the right spot, he will be more motivated to go there.

3. Make sure you bring your puppy out on leash so you can control where he walks and sniffs. Go to the elimination area and just stand there and let him walk around and sniff a bit but keep him in the general area.  Be aware that any distractions will interrupt his peeing or pooping – cars, people, squirrels, etc.  Watch for signs that he is about to go so you recognize them over time.  A small puppy may only pause briefly to pee so you need to be very observant. 

4. As soon as your puppy finishes, verbally praise him and give him 5-6 tiny treats in a row.  If he doesn’t go, bring him back and take him out 5 minutes later.  Watch him carefully when you do go back in because that may be where he is more comfortable going.  Continue to go out every 5-10 minutes until your puppy goes and then lavishly praise and reward him with high value treats. Make sure you’re with him when he goes so A) you know that he went and B) to teach him that it is rewarding to ‘go’ when he is next to you.

5.  Next, you want to start tracking your puppy’s elimination schedule so you can anticipate when you need to take him out.  When inside, watch for sniffing or circling as a sign that he needs to go and ‘when in doubt, take him out’.  If he does have an accident inside, calmly clean it up with a proper odor eliminator and take note of when and where the accident happened so you can be more diligent about preventing it next time.

6. Punishing your puppy after the fact does no good –he won’t understand why you’re yelling at him so don’t it.  Just be more observant next time. The first few weeks of owning a puppy are some of the hardest and most important. Spending extra time and effort now will pay off in a big way. If your puppy has an accident inside, take a newspaper, roll it up and hit yourself in the head with it!

7. Once he’s going regularly in his spot, start putting this behavior on command- use whatever phrase you want but be consistent:  “Hurry up”, “Do your Business”, “Do Potty”, “Potty time”, whatever.  Start saying the command as your puppy starts to go.  Don’t say it when you’re not sure – we want him to associate the command with the correct behavior.  Eventually start saying the command earlier and it will be his cue to go.  This will come in very handy on a rainy or cold night when you want him to go quickly so you can get back inside.

8. Finally and the most important, the only way for you to prevent your puppy from going in the wrong place is by using 100% management and supervision.  This means that when you can’t watch your puppy, he’s in his crate and when he is out of his crate, he’s never out of your sight.  You’ll need to gate off a small area of your kitchen or family room or have your puppy on a leash attached to your belt. 

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