Having a puppy can give you so much joy and fun, but it can be equally frustrating. One primary source of frustration for dog owners is housebreaking puppy training. This is the process of teaching your puppy to go to the toilet in one designated (by you) place, therefore sparing your fine furnishings, your nerves, and your floors...
The process of potty training you puppy will be quite similar to potty training a baby. But there's one stark difference between the two - and that is that you can't explain to a dog the importance of housebreaking. Your dog will not understand why it's important for him to poo and pee in his potty spot.
So instead of explaining and reasoning with him, you will simply need to undertake a set of routines that help create an association in your puppy's brain that when he does his 'business' in the right spot - he gets love and when he doesn't he gets nothing.
This is actually a good thing - it makes your job foolproof as long as you have a process and you consistently follow through with what it teaches you. Which brings me to the next natural question;
What's the fastest way to housebreaking a puppy with the most chance of success?
The speed and rate of success when going through housebreaking puppy training depends on two factors:
- Your puppy's breed:
Well once you've chosen your puppy, there's not much you can do about its breed. But if you haven't chose yet, and housebreaking is an important part for you, bear in mind that if you pick a breed that is easily trainable such as a Border Collie or Labrador Retriever, you're likely to spend less time potty training your pup, and more time playing with him. Avoid buying toy breeds especially if you don't have a lot of free time on your hands, because they are harder to potty train.
- 2. His age - which in turn determines how well he responds to your instructions.
This one is very logical, and although most puppies are only given away after 8 weeks of age, you still need to bear in mind that at that age puppies are not ready for obedience training. This simply means that you need to start creating the right associations in your puppy's mind, whilst understanding that the responsibility for the consistency and patience in training lies on you. At least until such time when your puppy is ready to be trained.
So with all that in mind - let's run through the some important points of housebreaking a puppy that can help you succeed faster:
1. You can put into good use your stack of old newspapers or papers.
Yes huge benefit - just kidding. But newspapers can be a good way of demarcating your pup's potty area. Especially if it is indoors. That way the smell is retained - telling him that's his spot to do his 'stuff' and it's easy to clean up. Obviously - choose a place where it's easy to clean and is low on foot traffic - a corner of the utility room works sometimes.
So each time your puppy has to relieve himself, pick him up and place him atop the layers of papers. Pay attention to the signs he will give you when he's ready to go - such as when he starts walking in circles, squatting digging, sniffing a specific spot, etc.
If you are using an outside area for his toilet, that's fine, just make sure he can get to the area when he needs to. Don't presume he'll come and nudge you or even scratch at the door when he needs to go. He's too little for that - if the access is obstructed - he'll relieve himself in front of that door. Don't get annoyed at him then...
Be consistent with your demands, and pretty soon, he'll find his own way there, if access is unobstructed.
2. Crate training speeds up housebreaking puppy training.
Some find crate training somewhat cruel, but I beg to differ. But a crate is a very useful device not only for potty training your puppy, but also for creating a solid routine for him - for his bedtime, for his feeding time, and for when he's alone. A create, when used properly will provide comfort to your little dog.
The key is to get a crate that's large enough to have one area for a toilet and another for his sleeping quarters. If the crate is not big enough for this - don't use it for housebreaking.
3. Rewards vs. punishments.
This is VERY important - dogs are creatures of habit. If you reward or praise your puppy each time he does something good, the chances of him repeating the same behavior are pretty high. The exact opposite happens when you punish your dog; he becomes more aggressive and confused when you punish him or shout at him.
It helps to remember that whatever he does wrong, he's not doing it to spite you. So no matter what may be going through your mind when he's just had an accident on your carpet - he is just a small puppy who's learning how you want things done. Give him some patience, be consistent with your demands and rewards, and in no time, he'll learn that he gets loved when he goes to the toilet at his designated area. Hey presto - job done!
4. Cleaning up.
Why is it imperative to thoroughly clean the area where your dog pooped - especially when he does it in the wrong place?
Because dogs have a keen sense of smell, so if you don't properly wash the area where he accidentally relieved himself, he would probably do it on the same spot again - not to spite you, but because it smells to him like this is the potty area.
It's usually best to clean accidents with a pet friendly cleaner, but even then make sure to use one without ammonia in it. The ammonia in your cleaning liquid will only enhance the smell of pee or poo on the spot.
The tips I've mentioned would not work if you do not follow a daily routine consistently. You have to constantly remind your dog where to relieve himself to establish a pattern of behavior which can help you speed up the housebreaking puppy training process.
Remember your puppy is young and willing to learn and please you, but the responsibility for reminding him to go potty is yours still. Make sure you:
- take him to his potty area every 15-20 minutes initially.
- Additionally, take him there:
- after every meal;
- after intense play or excitement;
- after he wakes up;
- before he goes to bed;
- every time you notice he's needing to go;
Also, never fail to give him rewards or praises when he does the right thing. A well-behaved dog is a product of positive reinforcement, consistency, and love.