No matter which method you decide to housetrain your dog, you can apply these general principles to help your puppy succeed.
It is important for you to be consistent with your dog’s routine.
This will be one of main rules that help you with housetraining.
When your dog has a specific time for eating, sleeping, and playtime, he will more likely succeed in housetraining.
A regular eating schedule will give your puppy a predictable appetite, which will help to regulate his digestive processes.
What food goes “in” on schedule, it will likely come “out” on schedule.
Obviously, the more food and water you give your puppy, the more he will need to eliminate.
Be sure to follow the instructions regarding how much to feed your puppy at which ages and weight level.
During the housetraining process, refrain from giving your puppy table scraps, especially if he eats at a different time than the rest of the family because that will throw off his consistent schedule.
Also only leave your doggie’s food down at meal times for about 20 minutes.
Leaving food down throughout the day makes potty training much more difficult to master as it upsets your dog’s toileting regime.
After your puppy eats, there will be a very short amount of time before he needs to eliminate.
To be safe, take him outside 15 to 20 minutes after he eats.
Be sure to give your puppy plenty of water throughout the day, especially around mealtime because this is critical for carrying waste material from his body.
Consistency in your puppy’s sleeping patterns is also important. Crate training really comes in handy here. A puppy likes to keep his “den” clean, so he will be less likely to eliminate in his crate as long as it is not too big.
You will learn more about crate training for housetraining later in this chapter.
You can predict that a puppy will almost always need to eliminate when he wakes up in the morning or after naps. He should be given an opportunity to eliminate before retiring to the crate for a nap or for the night.
When a puppy engages in an exciting activity such as playtime, chances are he will need to eliminate during or afterwards. Keep your play sessions short and make sure you give him plenty of time to eliminate before coming back into the house.
Think of a command phrase that you will say every time you want your dog to go outside. It could be “Do you want to go outside” or “Do you want to go potty?” You will use this same phrase every time you take him outside.
Whatever phrase you decide to say, make sure you say it in a very upbeat, positive tone! You want your puppy to think that going outside is a very exciting activity.
If you are constantly supervising your dog, accidents will happen less often. This is because you will be able to see “clues” such as sniffing around or walking in circles.
If you can’t be in the same room with your puppy, you can keep him in a crate, but not for long periods of time.
All dogs will have accidents. Even after you think that he is fully housetrained, he will still have the occasional accident.
You should never punish your dog if you stumble upon an accident that happened a few hours ago. For example, if you call your dog to an accident and say “Rover, come” and point out a mess to him and scold him, he will think you are punishing him for coming, not the accident. If you do this, your dog may become fearful of you.
If you catch your dog in the act of eliminating, refrain from yelling or hitting him (even though you may want to!) Instead, use a verbal reprimand word or phrase such as “no,” “eh-eh,” or “hey” in a firm tone, but don’t yell. This sound will interrupt his action and then you can take him outside.
You should also never punish a dog for submissive elimination. This could happen when your dog gets overly excited, if he gets scolded, or if there are visitors in the house. This is something that he will eventually outgrow, but until then, just be patient with him.
When your dog has an accident in the house, clean the mess as soon as you can with a deodorizer to get rid of the odour. If you don’t clean the area with a deodorizer, the odour will draw your dog back to that spot to eliminate.
You should also clean up your puppy’s messes outside too. A clean environment is important for your puppy’s health. Piles of feces on the lawn not only look and smell bad, but it can cause diseases from being infested with canine worm larvae.
This can also prevent the habit of coprophagy (eating feces.) This will be discussed in Chapter 14.
As your dog has fewer accidents inside the house, you will be able to let him wander around the house more. Do this gradually. If he has accidents with this new freedom, go back to watching him closely until you he has proven himself again
DECIDING WHICH METHOD TO USE
Before your new puppy arrives to your home, you should decide how you are going to housetrain him. There are several ways to housetrain your puppy.
It is important to decide on a method and then stick with it for the duration of your dog’s life. Changing methods will confuse your dog and will ultimately cause accidents. Apply the principles that you just learned to these methods.