The day you bring a dog home to join the family is always exciting. Whether it is a new puppy or an adult dog, house training is the first issue we all face. Here are my 6 house training tips!
Teaching your dog to go to the bathroom in your designated area at the right time is essential. House soiling is one of the biggest reasons dogs are relinquished to shelters. It is up to us to teach our dogs when and where it is appropriate to do their business. I share the following tips with all my clients bringing home a new fur friend.
Crates are a phenomenal tool to make life easier. Many people want to sleep with the new bundle of fur and there is nothing wrong with that as I always say, “…it’s personal preference. Just remember, that little Newfoundland puppy will grow to be 120 pounds…” Most people don’t mind their dogs sleeping with them when they are little but if you have a large breed, don’t count on sprawling out while you sleep in the future! Crate training allows your dog to have a safe and familiar place to sleep, travel in and relax. Dogs naturally are den animals and seek out enclosed spaces. Many of my clients share they find their pups under a desk, an end table and under their bed.
Another reason I like using a create is dogs generally do not like to soil where they sleep. This is why it is very important that the crate is the correct size. It should be just large enough for the dog to lie down, stand up, and turn around comfortably. If it is too large, the dog will often use the excess space as a toilet. If you get a crate with a partition, you can adjust the size as your puppy gets bigger without having to purchase a new larger crate later on.
When your dog has to go potty the puppy may start to fuss, whine or scratch since they will not want to soil their bed. That will be your signal to quickly take the pup out to the designated potty area.
Control Food and Water
In the beginning, I always recommend controlling the food and water when you are home. Try to feed the best quality food that fits your budget. Your puppy is growing and developing so high-quality nutrition is important. Puppies have tiny bladders (some are really itty bitty) so when they drink water it goes right through them. Food also processes quite quickly, having meals at designated times will help. Scheduled feedings create a window when they are likely to go to the bathroom. Keep an eye on your dog and learn your pup’s individual “I gotta go” signs. Some dogs will start sniffing, whining, barking and begin to circle just before relieving themselves. Each dog is different so the longer you have your pup you should start to recognize their signals.
Take Frequent Trips Outside
Making a schedule and taking frequent trips outside is crucial to successful potty training. Basic guides say that dogs can control their bladders for the number of hours corresponding to their age in months up to about nine months to a year. Remember, every dog is an individual so this can be different from yours. You will be taking your puppy out often. First thing in the morning, after food and water, upon waking up from naps, after time in a crate, after play time and before bed. I rather take them out more often with the chance they go than not and have to race out the door (or to the pad) with them. I highly recommend having a friend, neighbor or hiring a dog walker to come in during the day to help keep your pup on the schedule if you are unable to be home.
Limit Access – Utilize Baby Gates and Play Pens
If you are still unsure your dog might have accidents in your house then it is too soon for your pup to have free passage. Many pet parents allow their dog total access to their home before they are fully house trained and are frustrated and upset when they find messy presents on the floor and carpet. It may be impossible to always keep an eye on your dog when you are trying to get things done. Using a baby gate limits your puppy to easily cleaned areas like your kitchen so you don’t have to worry about scrubbing out unwanted mishaps around the house. Playpens are also a wonderful place to manage a puppy when you are occupied. Unless you are able to give your full attention to your dog, I suggest keeping them in a controlled environment behind a baby gate, in a laundry room, kitchen or bathroom.
Reinforce and Praise
If you suddenly notice the squat to urinate or defecate and it’s too late to walk them to the area that you want them to potty, pick them up and place them where they need to go. You do not want to scold your dog. Admonishing your dog can teach them to be afraid of you and to prefer to potty when you are not around. If your pup has an accident, this means you need to be more diligent and aware to prevent getting caught off guard next time. Watch for those signals. When you take your dog out to go potty and they are successful, make sure you are PRAISING their effort! Be genuine and let them know you are thrilled with what they just accomplished. Be enthusiastic when they get it right. However, I would recommend being calm when they are in the act. If you are too excited when they start to go it could cause them to stop midway! So wait until they are finished and praise lavishly and give them a delicious little treat.
Ideally, while house training, you want to keep your puppy where you can watch them at all times. This not only helps us see early signs that they need to go but also helps us prevent finding puppy treasure later. We want to minimize accidents and set our dogs up to be successful in going to the bathroom outside or on the pee pad. Utilize the crate, baby gates, playpens and controlling food and water. Most of all, be consistent in taking them out often so there are plenty of opportunities to praise your pup when successful in this new potty adventure.