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Tips for Housebreaking Your Pet

Brown puppy chewing up a pillow


Bringing home a new puppy can be very exciting but also requires a substantial amount of work. One of the first things people work on when bringing home a puppy is housetraining. Housetraining requires time, patience, and consistency. Puppy owners should keep in mind that accidents do happen but with some basic housetraining knowledge, most people can teach their puppy in several weeks.

Puppies are similar to babies in that they do best with a regular routine. Having a regular schedule helps teach puppies that there are specific times for eating, playing, and going to the bathroom. On average, puppies can control their bladders one hour for each month of age. Try not to go longer than that between bathroom breaks to prevent accidents. To establish a potty routine, try the following.

  • Make sure the puppy goes outside frequently; at the very least once every two hours. Puppies should also go outside right after they wake up and following meal time.
  • Pick a specific spot outside where you want your puppy to relieve themselves. It can be helpful to use a certain phrase while they are going to help remind them what to do. Only allow playtime or a walk after the puppy has relieved itself.
  • Give your puppy a reward for going potty outdoors. Give treats and praise but only do so right after they have gone to the bathroom and not once they have come back inside. This is important so they understand they are being rewarded for relieving themselves outside and not simply for being outside.
  • Keep your puppy on a regular schedule for feeding to make housetraining easier. When puppies eat at the same time each day, it can make their elimination schedule more consistent.
  • Before bedtime, pick up the water dish; this should be done about two hours prior to going to sleep. Picking up the water will help reduce the chances that the puppy will need to go potty during the night. If your puppy does need to go potty during the night, try not to make a big deal and stay calm and quiet so they don't think its playtime.

Supervision is important in ensuring that your puppy does not go to the bathroom in the house. Consider tethering them to a piece of furniture that is nearby and keep an eye out for signs that they may need to go out. Scratching at the door, barking, squatting, and sniffing around can all be signs that your puppy should be brought outside. It is also a good idea to put a leash on your puppy, even in the yard, during the housetraining process. Once they are fully trained they can be given more freedom.

It is not possible to watch your puppy every second, so when you are unable to watch them, they should be confined to a small area such as a crate. As soon as you return home, the puppy should be taken out of confinement and brought outside to relieve themselves.

Even with the best training, puppies are likely to have accidents while indoors. This is a normal part of housetraining and there are several things you can do to teach them they need to go outside. If you catch your puppy in the act, interrupt them. Make a noise or tell them outside, and immediately bring the dog outdoors. If they finish their business outside, praise them and give them a treat. Do not punish puppies for having accidents in the house. Once you find an area that is soiled, it is too late to correct the puppy. Scolding or punishing them will only cause them to fear you and often does more harm than good. Simply clean the area thoroughly as puppies will continue to eliminate in areas that may smell like feces or urine.

It is important for owners to use supervision and confinement to help cut down on accidents. If puppies start to frequently go to the bathroom in the house, it can cause confusion about where they are supposed to eliminate and can really prolong the whole process. Just remember to be patient and consistent, and you will have a housetrained puppy in no time.

Additional Housetraining Tips


by: Nick Braun


Common Pet Health Problems


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