House training your puppy

It’s a joy to have a house-trained puppy — all of the cuteness and none of the mess! You can begin house-training your puppy as early as 3-4 weeks old.  The process can take 2-4 weeks of strong supervision, although a puppy only really has full bladder control when it’s 6 months old.

House-training your puppy is the process of figuring out a place that works for you and a schedule that works for your puppy. Combine those two elements, prevent undesirable accidents — and you’ll have a perfectly house-trained puppy. Here’s how to do it:

1. Have an accessible area where it’s acceptable for your puppy to ‘go’.
To begin with, figure out where you want your puppy to relieve itself. If the general area is big, such as a yard, it is still a good idea to confine your puppy to a small part of it when it goes.

2. Tune in to your doggy’s internal clock
Dogs love routine, and when you feed it on a regular schedule and pay attention to its behaviour, you will soon find that it goes at a certain time (usually 30 to 90 minutes after a meal). Learn the signs of your puppy’s desire to go and keep its timing in mind as you move on to the next step.

3. Establish a schedule to take it to the acceptable area
The best time to take puppy out is when you know it needs to go, and if at all possible, you should arrange its feeding and house-training to fall into a natural schedule. During training, accompany your dog to the area so that you can reward it immediately afterwards; once it’s trained, you can let it go alone if you like (as long as it’s just your own yard).

4. Prevent undesirable behaviour
If you catch your puppy in the wrong act, say “outside” or “no” firmly and take it to the right spot. In order to establish the routine and prevent accidents, confine your puppy to a small area for increasing periods of time. Many owners use a crate in this phase with great success. Confine the puppy only after it’s already relieved itself and increase the time of confinement gradually.

5. Reward consistently
When your puppy behaves the way you want it to — when it goes in the right area at the right time — reward it handsomely with praise and treats. Reinforce good behaviour consistently throughout the training period until it becomes part of the puppy’s routine.

Also, remember that accidents can happen from time to time during puppy training. Be patient – the point of house training is to slowly eliminate such behaviour over time. Some puppies respond to training more quickly than others, but they all respond with the right training. If you keep up your end of the bargain by being consistent in routine and reward, your puppy will very soon begin to reciprocate.

Image supplied by psycho-pics, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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