Housetraining is one of the first things you will teach your new puppy. This should be started
as soon as you take your dog home, but it takes patience. In general, puppies are unable to
control their bladders and bowels until 12 weeks of age. If your puppy is younger than that,
extra patience is required.
A few key things to remember when housetraining a puppy.
Praise the dog when it behaves.
Keep a solid routine.
Never punish the dog physically for an accident.
Do not correct the dog unless you catch it in the act.
Set a Schedule
Consistency is the best way to teach your puppy housetraining. Try to get up at the same time
each morning and take your puppy outside right away. Feed your puppy at the same times each
day and take it outside immediately after eating. As your dog gets older you may even be able
to anticipate when it will need to go based on when it was last fed, provided you stick to the
Watch for Signs
If you see your puppy sniffing, circling, and pacing, it is probably time to go, so take it
outside immediately. If you catch it in the middle of an accident, say “no” firmly and take
the dog outside to finish, praising when it does.
Never punish a dog by hitting or pushing its nose in the mess. This will only teach the animal
to fear you.
If you find an accident in the house, but do not catch the puppy in the act, do not bother
punishing it. The dog will not associate the punishment with the action and will only become
Choose a Keyword
Using a phrase like "outside" or "do your business" consistently will help your dog learn it
as a command. Always bring your puppy to the same area outside while housetraining. The odors
in this area will encourage it to urinate and defecate here again. When the dog does its
business, be sure to offer praise.
Use a Crate
When you are away from home, your puppy should stay in a crate or kennel. You may buy a larger
crate for your puppy to grow into, but place a divider in it so that it is only large enough
for your puppy to turn around and lie down.
Instinctively, your puppy will not want to soil its own area. Be careful not to let your puppy
stay in the cage for more than four to six hours, or it may have no choice but to relieve
itself. If you are away from the house regularly, as many of us are for work, return home in
the middle of each day to let your puppy outside.
Arrange for someone else to let your puppy out if you will be unable to come home.
If you choose not to crate your dog when you are away from the house, set up a room with a
Place training pads at one end of the room and the dog's bed and toys at the other. Generally,
dogs prefer to urinate on absorbent materials, but they tend to avoid doing so in their own
beds. Ideally, the puppy will gravitate toward the training pads. This may take longer than
using a crate.
Housetraining may take several months, so don’t give up. Remember that your puppy wants to please you, it just needs to learn how. Be clear with the puppy when you praise or correct its actions. Eventually, you will see results.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
If your puppy does have an "accident" in the house, be sure to use a cleaner that will eliminate the odor entirely. If your dog picks up the scent, it may think the area is OK to use again.
If your dog is going through a stressful time or is ill, it may backtrack on its housetraining and have an occasional accident. This is frustrating, but if you can identify the source of the problem, you should be able to stop the behavior. Dogs whose routines have been disrupted, such as with a new baby in the house, or a move to a new place, often regress slightly.
Accidents in a previously housetrained dog often signal an underlying health problem, such as a urinary tract infection. Take your dog to the vet if this begins happening without an apparent reason.
Crate training is a method of house training your puppy or dog. The crate is used to keep your dog confined when you are not able to supervise. Since most dogs will not urinate or defecate in the same place they sleep, your dog will most likely try to hold the urge when it is confined to its crate.
When used correctly, a crate prevents the dog from getting in the bad habit of having accidents in your home and gives it a safe space that is akin to a doggie sanctuary.
Choose a Crate
There are several different types of crates to choose from, including a wire cage, a plastic pet carrier, and a soft-sided
canvas or nylon crate.
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The wire crate is the most commonly used. It allows your dog to see what is going on around it, and many have an extra panel which allows you to make the crate bigger or smaller depending on the size of your dog. This type of crate is collapsible, and it has a sliding tray in the floor which makes it easy to clean.
A plastic pet carrier is also a good option for crate training. This is the kind you most often see used for airline travel. The drawback to this kind of crate is that it is enclosed on three sides, so it does not let in as much light as a wire crate. It is also a little harder to clean.
The soft-sided crates are lightweight, so they are great to carry along when you are traveling with your dog. The problem with the soft-sided crates is that a dog who likes to chew or scratch at the sides will be able to break out. It is not a good choice for young puppies.
Whichever type of crate you choose to use, size is important. The crate should not be too large. You want your dog to have enough room to lie down comfortably and turn around. If the crate is too big, your dog may use one area of the crate to sleep and another spot to eliminate.
Many of the wire crates are sold with a divider. This is perfect if you are crate training a growing puppy. The divider allows you to confine your puppy to a small area of the crate and then make the crate larger as your puppy grows.
Introduce the Crate
Crate training should be kept very positive. Introduce your puppy or adult dog to the crate slowly. Put something soft in the bottom of the crate, along with some of your dog's toys. Throw some treats inside. Let your dog explore the crate at its own pace without forcing it to go inside.
Praise the dog and give it a treat when it goes in on its own. Until it seems comfortable with the crate, keep the door open and let your dog wander in and out as it wishes.
Confine Your Dog in the Crate
Dogs are den animals, and they like having a safe and secure place to call their own. If crate training is done correctly, crates can provide this safe haven, in addition to giving you peace of mind while you are not at home.
Problems and Proofing Behavior
Never use your dog's crate to punish it. Your dog should consider its crate a happy, comfortable, and safe place. If you use the crate to punish your dog, chances are it will be fearful and anxious when left in it.
It is also important that you never let your dog out of the crate while it is whining or barking; it should be completely calm before you release it. Opening the crate while it is barking or whining teaches that if the dog makes enough noise, it will be let out. Making this mistake can lead to many sleepless nights as you wait for your puppy to settle down.
Finally, never leave your dog crated for longer than it is physically able to hold its bladder or bowels. Puppies can usually hold it for no more than three to four hours. An adult dog who has never been housetrained should also not be left for longer than three to four hours. Older dogs may be able to hold it a little longer.
Dogs should not be left crated for more than this length of time without being taken out for exercise, playtime, and time to cuddle with you.