Bringing a new puppy home is one of the great days in anyone’s life. There is so much joy and happiness, so much eager anticipation about all the fun days ahead with your new four-legged friend. But “house training my puppy” is soon on every new owner’s mind! It just takes that first accident in the house to make you realize you need to begin your puppy’s potty training.
Most puppies go to a new home when they are between seven and 12 weeks of age. This is a good time for them to leave their mother and littermates. They are able to start bonding with a human family at this time. However, at this age they don’t know much about house training. The first few weeks of their life their mother has washed them and cleaned up after them. After that, they learned to leave the sleeping area when they needed to use the bathroom, but they aren’t house trained. Add to that the fact that puppies at this age have very small bladders and need to potty frequently, and you can see why puppies have very little control, at first, over where they potty.
It will be up to you to teach your puppy what he needs to know. You will need to teach him with lots of patience and kindness. Puppies learn best with praise and rewards, not with punishment or anger. Remember that at this age your puppy is just a baby. He doesn’t always understand what you are trying to teach him. If he makes a mistake it may be due to the fact that he doesn’t understand, or he can’t physically do what you want him to do at this age. He will be house trained, eventually, so just hang in there and keep working on the process of “house training my puppy.”
Put Your Puppy on a Schedule
You can start by putting your puppy on a good schedule. If you get your puppy in the habit of eating, going outside, and pottying at certain times, it will go a long way toward helping him avoid having accidents. Take your puppy outside to relieve himself as soon as he wakes up in the morning and after every meal. Take him outside after every big play session. Exercise usually makes a puppy need to potty, so if you and your puppy have a big wrestling match in the floor you should plan on taking your puppy outside shortly afterwards. And, you will need to take your puppy outside to potty before bedtime.
Even if you have a fenced yard it’s best if you take your puppy outside to potty during these first few weeks. Accompany him when he goes to relieve himself. That way you can make sure that he is spending time pottying and not just sniffing the grass or chasing bugs. You can also be on hand to praise him and even give him a treat when he potties. People often get upset when their puppy has an accident, but they fail to praise and reward their puppy for doing what they want and relieving himself outside as they wish. Go outside with your puppy and let him know that he’s being a good puppy by pottying outside. If you don’t have a yard and you walk your puppy, make sure that you praise him and give him a reward when he relieves himself on walks.
No matter how well your puppy’s house training progresses, or how diligent you are about taking your puppy out on a good schedule, it’s likely that your puppy will have a few accidents. Virtually every puppy has an accident at some point. If your puppy does have an accident you should not be too hard on him. Unless you actually see your puppy in the act of having an accident in your home, you should not reproach him for it. Your puppy has a very short memory and attention span at this age. Once he does something, he’s forgotten it two minutes later. It won’t do any good for you to yell at your puppy, and rubbing his nose in a mess or anything else would simply be cruel. Your puppy would have no idea why you were angry or acting like a crazy person. You would only be harming your relationship with him.
If you do find a mess that your puppy has made you should do your best to clean it up entirely. Make sure that no odor remains. You can use an enzymatic cleaner or a product such as Nature’s Miracle to remove any odor. Vinegar and water also makes a good cleaner. It is the odor from the accident which could cause the puppy to return to the spot and repeat the act, so make sure that the spot is thoroughly cleaned.
If you do catch your puppy in the act of having an accident, you need to shout, clap your hands or make some noise to get your puppy’s attention and make him stop what he’s doing. Then scoop him up and take him outside. Don’t waste time fussing at him. Instead, wait until he’s outside and praise him for finishing up out there. Always try to praise the positive instead of punishing the negative.
You will need to watch for signs that your puppy is looking for a place to potty inside, especially if he has had a previous accident.
Watch for these signs that your puppy needs to potty:
- Your puppy may go back to the site of a previous accident
- He may sniff the floor
- He may look for a private, secret spot, such as behind furniture
- He may glance at the door
- He may give you looks, trying to let you know he needs to go out
If you notice your puppy doing any of these things you should take him outside right away. It could be a false alarm, but it’s also likely that your puppy really needs to relieve himself and he doesn’t yet know how to let you know he needs to go outside. As he gets older he will get better about learning how to communicate with you that he needs to go out.
You can help your puppy get through the night by feeding him his final meal no later than 7 pm. He should be ready to potty for the night by 10 or 11 pm. You should also remove his water for the night by around 9 pm. Otherwise he may need to go outside during the night or he may have an accident in the house overnight. You may also wish to consider crate training your puppy to help him with his house training.
“House training my puppy” won’t seem so bad if you follow these simple suggestions. Most puppies are fairly easy to house train. It usually just takes a few weeks to house train most puppies. You may feel frustrated at times but if you hang in there and keep taking your puppy outside, and giving him praise and rewards for pottying correctly, your puppy will be house trained in no time.