One of the first things any family needs to teach their new puppy is where they can and can’t use the bathroom! This training requires patience, consistency, and dedication to the process. Remember, puppies learn best through positive reinforcement and repetition, and they love to please their people! Following these basic rules for house training your puppy will help you and your pup avoid endless frustration and messes.
Establish a House Training Routine
- Frequency is key! Puppies are creatures of habit, which is why repetitious training is an extremely successful house-training technique. On average, a puppy can control their bladder for 1 hour per month of age. For a two-month-old pup, they’re likely to be alright for about 2 hours between bathroom breaks. Longer than that, and you’ll probably have an accident to clean! Take your puppy outside every 2 hours at most, always first thing in the morning, and after meals.
- Choose a specific location. Always take your leashed puppy to the same place for potty training and reinforce the behavior by repeating a specific. Try something simple like “potty time,” or another phrase you are unlikely to use in other circumstances. Once they have relieved themselves, then you can take them for a long walk or have some playtime.
- Reward and praise them! Every time your puppy goes outside for their bathroom break, offer a treat immediately along with exuberant praise. Don’t wait until you get back in the house for the treat, offer it immediately after they’ve finished eliminating. You want to reinforce the appropriate behavior and waiting until later will confuse your puppy.
Supervision is Key
- The best way to avoid accidents indoors is to always keep an eye on your pup. Sometimes, your puppy will surprise you by needing to pee again shortly after returning inside from a bathroom break. Vigilantly watch for signs that your puppy might have to go out, even if you recently took them outside. If your puppy is scratching or barking at the door, looking uncomfortable and restless, pacing, or whining and unsatisfied by a bit of attention, immediately take them outside for a bathroom break and reward them immediately if they relieve themselves.
- Be ready for immediate trips outside if you notice signs that your puppy needs to go by keeping them on a leash unless you are actively playing with them. If you notice signs of needing to go, simply grab the leash and take them out! Outdoors, keep them leashed until after they have relieved themselves.
- If you are unable to supervise your puppy (if you go out for errands, work, or overnight), confine them to a crate. Again, remember that puppies can only be expected to hold their pee for an hour per month of life, so an 8-hour stretch is not a practical expectation for young pups and will only result in frustration for you and your puppy.
- Despite your best efforts, your puppy will undoubtedly have some accidents indoors. If this happens, remember to avoid anger. Punishment and shame will only be detrimental to your training progress.
- Immediately take your puppy outside to their bathroom spot and offer a reward and praise if they are able to relieve themselves at all in the correct location.
- Thoroughly clean the soiled area indoors, preferably with an enzyme cleaner specifically for this purpose. These types of cleaners help eliminate the odors, which is extremely important because puppies will continue to use an area that already smells of urine or feces.
Always be mindful of your puppy’s needs when you are traveling, out of the house for work or other errands, or for any trips out of the house over a few hours. Your pup is dependent on your care to help them succeed in this area, and they can’t train themselves! Set your puppy and yourself up for house-training success with consistency and positive reinforcement, and remember, these days will not last forever.