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Simply thinking about house training your puppy could have you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Take a deep breath and don’t fear! As long as you stay committed and consistent in whichever method you choose, the process doesn’t have to be difficult. It can even be fun! Remember, the goal is to instill positive habits in your pet while simultaneously building a loving bond. Understand and expect there to be a lot of setbacks and “mistakes.” Do your best to curb your frustration (it can take up to 6 months to a year to get your puppy fully house trained), get back on the horse and try again. Following these core training principles as soon as puppy comes home will set a healthy foundation for the rest of your training.
- Confine Puppy to Defined Space
Whether you decide to crate train or keep your puppy in a gated area, limiting his space is important during this crucial learning stage – not just to save your valuables from getting ruined, but also to teach puppy that he needs to go outside to do his business. Until he develops his “den instinct” i.e., not wanting to go soil his own living space, he’ll need boundaries. Once he starts to understand and make progress, gradually give him more freedom around the house.
- Take Puppy Out Frequently
You should take your puppy outside first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. You should also take him out after every meal, when he wakes from a nap and before he goes to sleep. When in doubt, take him out!
- Stay Attached at the Hip
Consider “puppy sitting” your full time job for the next several months. Spotting and acknowledging your puppy’s signs that he needs to go are key to the process. Whining, circling, sniffing or barking are all clear signs that he needs to be taken out right away. And make sure that once he’s out, you watch puppy do his business each time to ensure he’s making progress.
- Stick to a Feeding Schedule
Feed your puppy according to your veterinarian and breeder’s recommendations and take away the food in between meals to prevent accidents and get puppy used to eating at consistent times. Remember, what goes in regularly, will come out regularly! Leave the water though. Puppy needs to stay hydrated. Just monitor how much he drinks so you know when to take him out.
- X Marks the Spot
Take puppy to the same spot each time he eliminates. He will start to associate his scent with the spot and it will encourage him to go.
- Give Praise and Reward
When puppy eliminates outside, praise verbally and give him a treat. Choose a simple word like “outside” or a key phrase such as “Go potty!” and use it every time you take puppy out. Repetition and consistency are key. Puppy will soon start to associate the word with the act. A nice walk is another great reward.
- Discipline Correctly
Accidents are completely normal and punishing your puppy will only teach him to fear you. Puppies are not intellectually capable of associating anger with wrongdoing. If you catch puppy in the act, clap loudly to alert him it’s not acceptable. Then quickly take him outside by calling him or pulling him gently by the collar. If you find evidence after the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing the puppy’s nose in it.