House training was the thing I was most concerned about when we were considering getting a puppy. I was really dreading it. I had read stories in groups about people not being able to housebreak their pups until over a year old! After reading a lot of puppy books before we brought Sass home, we developed a strategy that we put to use. It worked great for us and I’m going to share how to house train your puppy today!
Designate a Puppy Area
Keeping your pup in an area of your home (that is preferably carpet-free) is a great idea. The less room they have to roam away from you, the better you can show them how and where to use the bathroom! When they have more freedom, that’s more chances they have to do their business where it is not desirable (a hallway, a room with an open door, etc.)
Remove Your Expectations
House training a puppy takes TIME. You will not have overnight success teaching your pup to potty train whether they are 8 weeks or 1 year. It just doesn’t happen. Remember that both of you are learning something new and give both you and your pup grace to figure out what works best. 🙂 Your puppy WILL learn eventually. I promise.
Notice the Pattern
If you watch your puppy closely, you’ll quickly notice he or she has a pattern of behaviors! Young puppies almost always need to use the bathroom after they eat, drink or have rested for a while. At 8-10 weeks old, puppies cannot control their bladders and other impulses so it is important you pay close attention to your puppy’s pattern of behavior.
Frequent Trips Outside
When puppies are very young, it is important to know that they literally cannot control the bladder muscle at all. This means you have to take them out A LOT. This is completely normal. As time goes on, you’ll take puppy out less and less. But for now, you’ll want to take them out after every meal, rest or play session. As they say, practice makes perfect! House training is no different.
Pro tip: Your puppy will give you cues as to when he/she needs to potty! They will nip more often or just be generally more restless. You may notice them sniffing around more than usual as well. When Sassy was a pup, she would go to each of our doors trying to determine which was the right one to go out!
Showing Your Pup the Way
There is no correcting a puppy – puppies do not know what the heck you are saying or doing when you are trying to show them what they are doing is wrong AFTER they have done it.
I think one of the key things we did was when we noticed Sassy pottying, we immediately took her outside. Yes, you might create more of a mess, but you would’ve been cleaning up one anyway!
Establish a Routine
After you’ve learned your pup’s behaviors and have gotten to know one another, it’s time to establish a routine! Just like you would with a child, you’ll want to start teaching them the routine of your household. This looks different for everyone!
When we got Sassy, I worked days and my husband worked nights. She was only alone 3 hours a day and we were able to take her out frequently. Your situation likely looks very different.
You know your household schedule – your puppy doesn’t. You have to teach your pup when you’ll feed her, take her out, and when playtime is. She will also learn when rest time is and when walk time is!
Pro tip: Write out your schedule and make a solid schedule for your pup. By writing it out and putting it up in your home on the fridge, it is right in front of you and you can reference it easily. Schedule frequent trips outside or walks with your pup and follow your schedule, knowing that eventually, you won’t need it anymore and it will be your new routine together.
- If a puppy is very young, take him/her outside every 30 minutes-1 hour. WATCH THE CLOCK!
- Take puppy outside immediately after eating and napping.
- Take puppy on frequent walks.
- Always use the same route to go outside to potty (unless going for a walk) – use the same door and same spot until your pup has the hang of things.
- Keep roaming to a minimum – I suggest potty training on a leash so your dog learns how to properly eliminate on a leash and to get their business done rather than play outside.
- Use a command – we always told Sassy “go potty”. She still associates that phrase with eliminating and when we ask her if she needs to “go potty” she knows exactly what we mean and runs to the door.
- Always praise your pup after elimination! Use a perky voice and training treats if your pup is food-motivated!