After you welcome your new puppy into your home, the first priority is to housetrain him. Most puppies gain control of their bladders and bowels near the end of their third month. So your pup will need you to be patient. Accidents are bound to happen.
Owners are often uncertain regarding the most effective way to housetrain their pups. With this in mind, we’ll provide a few suggestions below. There are a couple of approaches that work well; one involves the use of newspapers while the other requires a crate. We’ll explore both in more detail. We’ll also explain why it is important to establish prompts with your dog so he can communicate his need to use the bathroom. Lastly, you’ll learn the proper way to respond to the inevitable accidents.
Training Inside Your Home
This first approach involves picking a specific area of your home and laying newspapers down on the floor. Whenever your puppy shows signs of needing to urinate or defecate, pick him up and immediately take him to his special area. Place him on the newspaper and wait for him to finish. Once he does, praise and pet him. He’ll quickly begin to understand that you want him to use this designated area to go to the bathroom.
Your pup will begin going to his designated space on his own whenever the need arises. At that point, begin moving his newspapers closer to a door leading out to your backyard. He’ll eventually make the transition to going outside when he needs to go to the bathroom.
The Value Of A Crate
Crate training is valuable for several reasons, one of which involves housetraining. Dogs enjoy having a crate to themselves. They are pack animals who begin to perceive their crate as their personal sanctuary. As such, they will do everything possible to avoid soiling it.
When you’re unable to watch your puppy, put him inside his crate. This accomplishes two things. First, it will prevent accidents throughout your home. Second, it teaches your pup that he has the ability to “hold it” when the urge to relieve himself strikes. It is no coincidence that dogs that have gone through crate training as puppies are less likely to have accidents later.
Establishing Prompts To Communicate Needs
You’ll notice that your pup goes through the same motions whenever he feels the need to relieve himself. For example, he may pace back and forth, or walk in small circles, while sniffing the floor. These are signs that he is looking for a place to go to the bathroom.
Establish a one-word prompt that gives your puppy an opportunity to signal his need to go outside. For example, say “potty” and look at him for a response. He’ll quickly recognize the prompt and respond accordingly. Walk him outside and wait for him to finish. Then, praise him to reinforce the behavior.
The Proper Response To Accidents
Nearly every puppy has accidents. But it’s important to realize that the accidents are not the pup’s fault; they are the fault of the owner. Puppies go through predictable routines whenever they feel the need to urinate or defecate. If a pup has an accident, that implies his owner failed to recognize the signals.
If you catch your puppy going to the bathroom outside his designated area, avoid yelling, hitting, or yanking on his collar. Punishing him does little to reinforce the desired behavior. Instead, immediately pick him up and take him to his area. Once he finishes, praise him. Then, go back to the accident and clean up the mess. There is no value in punishing your puppy for something he has done throughout his young life. Positive reinforcement through praise is far more effective for shaping his future behavior.
Crate training combined with verbal prompts and praise seems to be the favored housetraining strategy among professional dog trainers. With a little patience, your pup will learn to “go” when and where it is appropriate.