Need to house train your puppy?
Potty training problems can be frustrating.We’re on our 16th service dog in-training and I’ve had plenty of practice at house training — I’ve developed an efficient and easy system.
I think puppy owners underestimate the number of times a puppy needs to go outside to do his business, which then results in accidents all over the house. The more times your puppy goes to the bathroom indoors, the more “ok” going to the bathroom inside seems to your pup. By the way, this article applies to adult dogs, too, who (for whatever reason) haven’t been house trained.
A schedule is critical for house training success.
Your pup’s potty training will take a lot longer if you don’t stick to a consistent schedule. You need to schedule two primary events:
- trips outside
What goes in, must come out. Put your dog’s food down at his regularly scheduled meal time, give him 15 – 20 minutes to eat his meal, then pick up the bowl until the next feeding. Letting the pup graze into his food bowl (called free feeding) sets your pup up for house training failures.
Scheduling the meals at specific intervals gives you the advantage of predicting when your pup needs to be taken outside. Allowing your pup to free feed takes the predictability out of house training and will set you back a few weeks on your house training schedule.
You also need to schedule your pup’s trips outside.
You want to give your pup lots of opportunities to go to the bathroom outside and very few (if any) opportunities to go to the bathroom inside.
Take your puppy out immediately after:
- waking from a nap
- letting him out of his crate
- a vigorous play session
- a meal
- a big drink from the water bowl
- he walks near the door you always go out to take him to the bathroom
- he starts sniffing
A quick note about puppy training pads.
Puppy training pads are a poor choice if you want to train your puppy to go to the bathroom outside. Puppy pads have a scent on them that encourages a dog to go to the bathroom. If you want your dog to go outside to do his business, don’t use a puppy pad in the house — you’ll confuse your puppy and house training will take longer.
When you take your pup outside for his frequent bathroom breaks, carry him directly to the area in which you’d like him to do his business. Keep him on a short leash (a Flexi or retractible leash is a poor choice for many reasons). All playtime and walks happen after he does his business — just stand still (silently) until he begins to go to the bathroom.
Putting potty on cue.
I put going to the bathroom on cue so that when I need my pup to go (if I’m in a hurry, if the weather is bad, if we’re at a rest stop on a road trip — the reasons are endless, really), I can tell him when and where to do his business. To teach your pup a “go to the bathroom now, please” cue, simply say the words (we use “hurry up”) as soon as your pup starts to go to the bathroom (either pee or poop). As soon as he’s finished his business, praise him enthusiastically and then play with your pup or take him on a walk around the yard or neighborhood.
No house freedom.
Don’t give your pup a chance to make a mistake inside. Your puppy is too young to be wandering the house (or even the room you’re in) — a mistake will happen, believe me. Keep your pup tethered to you (put the leash on your pup, then hold it or attach it to your belt loop) while you’re watching tv, working on the computer, fixing dinner — whenever you can’t watch your puppy 100% of the time. Following this one tip will cut the number of mistakes your pup can make and makes the house training process much shorter.
Here’s a quick video with service puppy in-training, Levi, detailing how we house train a puppy.
Do you have house training tips that worked for you and your puppy? Please share them here (dog-friendly solutions, of course).