House Training 101

New puppies are adorable. They’re cuddly, they’re always happy to see you, and they…tend to pee on a the floor. Sometimes a lot. Housetraining is a lot of work, but completely worth it in the end. Here are a some steps to help you through:

Step 1: Never let your puppy out of your site.

You won’t be able to correct a mistake if you don’t see it happening. You can keep your puppy tethered to you with her leash whenever she’s out. If that’s not possible, crate her while you’re away or occupied. Crate training your pup provides her with her very own safe place, and can help in house training , too. With your dog in eyesight nearly 24/7, you can watch for signs that she needs to go out, as well as try to stop accidents the as soon as they start.

Step 2: Keep a schedule.

You’ll want to let your pup out after she wakes up in the morning and after naps, last thing at night, first thing in the morning, after meals, before she’s put in the crate…you get the idea–it’ll feel like you’re letting your puppy out constantly. If more than an hour passes between any of those times, you’ll want to let her out again. While you’re at work, the general rule is that your puppy can be alone for however many months old she is, plus one. So if your pup is three months old, you can (probably) leave her alone for four hours without a break outside. If you can’t get home over the lunch hour, a pet sitter might be just the thing to give her a potty break, as well as tire her out a bit during the day for you.

Step 3: Move fast.

With your dog within sight, you’ll be able to let your pup out the second they start pacing, whining, or squatting–whatever their sign is that they need to go out. The second you see that, get them outside. Don’t scare them, but drop whatever you’re doing and get them to a patch of grass.

Step 4: Don’t punish what they can’t help.

If you don’t quite make it to that patch of grass, try not to stress. Clap your hands, shake a can of pennies, or make some sort of sudden noise to startle your pup into stopping, and then get to that patch of grass. If your pup has already finished on your living room rug, don’t rub her nose in it, especially if you didn’t catch her in the act. She’ll know that you’re upset, but not about the accident that could’ve happened an hour ago–dogs can’t connect punishment with something that even happened minutes ago. Clean up the spot with an enzymatic cleaner so your pup won’t be tempted to go there again.

Step 5: Praise, praise, and more praise.

When your pup does do her business outside, tell her she was a good girl, give her an extra rub behind the ear, offer up a treat immediately–let her know how happy you are that she went outside! You might feel ridiculous about the neighbors seeing you get so excited, but anyone who has ever had to housetrain a dog will understand. And teaching your dog that the living room rug is not for potty breaks is worth celebrating!

By Rachel Leisemann Immel