From the calendar
1. Keep your puppy on a structured schedule for potty breaks outside. Remember that young puppies have undeveloped bladders; a good rule of thumb is that your puppy should be able to "hold it" the number of hours equal to his age in months. So a 3-month old can only comfortably wait up to 3 hours before needing to eliminate. Puppies will need to take a potty break at the following times: First thing in the morning, after each meal, immediately after rising from a nap, at the end of a play session with humans/dogs, after a period of crating and just before bed. Very young puppies may even need a break or two overnight.
2. Observation while indoors goes a long way toward preventing accidents! When your young dog or puppy is loose in the house, you must keep a keen eye on him at all times. Learn your particular dog's behaviors and mannerisms just prior to eliminating (some dogs will sniff the ground, pace or circle, move toward the doorway, etc.), and be prepared to get him outside immediately when he displays these behaviors.
3. Management is key when observation is not possible. Crate training your puppy is not only a wonderful way to aid in housetraining, but it can prevent unwanted chewing of household items, and keep your puppy safe while you are away from the home. Dogs are natural den animals, and they quickly learn to enjoy the private, quiet space of the crate. Make sure to introduce the crate in a positive manner, by feeding your puppy inside it, as well as providing fun interactive treats, toys and bones. Crate training is an important skill for all dogs to learn, as your dog may need to be crated for travel, at the groomer, or veterinarian. Remember, the crate is simply a management tool and can be faded out as your dog matures and becomes trustworthy while loose in your home.
4. Choose a special elimination spot in your yard. When you take your puppy outside to do his business, take him to the same area in your yard. Dogs are very much creatures of habit, and typically prefer to eliminate in the same general area. The scents of previous eliminations will also help trigger your puppy's desire to go. Using a specific location also aids in clean-up!
5. When your puppy chooses to eliminate outside, reward him with lots of praise, pets and even treats! You want your puppy to know he has successfully done what you have asked. A good reward history will lead to more success, which leads to more rewards, and the cycle of success continues!
6. Teach your puppy an elimination cue. Choose a word or phrase that you will pair with your puppy's potty breaks. You can use things like "Go Potty" or "Get Busy." As he is eliminating, quietly repeat the word. Soon, your puppy will begin to associate this cue with the need to eliminate; this is extremely helpful when trying to get a dog to finish his business during rain or inclement weather!
7. If your puppy chooses to eliminate inside your home, do not scold or reprimand him. Simply chalk it up to a mistake in observation or management on your part and clean the mess. If you scold or punish your puppy for housetraining mistakes, you may create a dog that tries to hide his accidents by sneaking off to potty in another room. With housetraining it is best to praise the successes and ignore the mistakes.
8. If your puppy does have a mistake, be sure to thoroughly clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner designed to eliminate the odors of urine and feces.
Remember, when housetraining any dog or puppy, consistency, patience and positive reinforcement are keys that will lead to success. With time and effort, you will have a well-mannered pet, with the skills to be a great companion.
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