Teaching your puppy to go outside and do their business is the goal of every new parent and we want it to happen as quick as possible. We call it potty training, housebreaking, house training or anything else you want to call it. Training your puppy to go outside. But how do you housebreak your new puppy?
Cleaning up pee on a regular basis in your house is not something that anyone enjoys doing, so getting it right quickly is important.
You bring your puppy into their new house and everyone is busy admiring how cute they are. Before you know it you have your first accident. Yup your puppy just squatted and peed like it was nothing. Let the games begin.
Whether you have turned your back for one second or you just forgot to let your puppy out they have just squatted to pee. It happens quick and often.
How to housebreak your puppy ultimately lies with us, the parent. They are babies and have no idea what or where they are supposed to go to do their business. We need to show them by using sheer consistency, repetition, and patience. Doing all 3 of these things is the fastest way to success in my opinion.
There are many ways to housebreaking your puppy. This is my story of how I was successful in training all the dogs I have parented in my adult life.
The first step to start training your puppy to go outside, is to ensure that you have an area of where you want them to do their business. By taking them outside to the same spot all the time, they get a sense of where you want them to go.
Sometimes, especially in Canada in the winter, we can get a ton of snow, so being able to provide the exact same spot every time can be impossible. When this happens, I try to shovel a direct path in the snow that leads to the area that I want my dog go on.
Many people fall short, right from the beginning simply because they don’t accompany their puppy out to do their business. Every time your dog needs to go outside, it is so important that you walk outside with your puppy when they need to go. This provides a sense of security because you are with them and then you use commands like “Go Pee” or whatever command you would like to use in order to get them to go.
Missing this first step can lead to your dog not getting it and not being successful. Just opening the door and letting your dog outside alone, does not imprint in their brain quick enough. They still need complete direction from us.
I know people that just open up the door and expect the dog to go by themselves. Sometimes letting them out to a deck first or a place that has stairs can throw them off. Getting them to exit the deck completely or gone down the stairs to the bottom is why guiding them is so important.
Also, be sure that the route to the area is clear of snow, ice and debris. If you point out the location with a straight line, they tend to just follow it.
A few things that will help
Now that we know the first step to housebreaking is a safe, clean spot for your puppy, we can move on to some other things that will make things easier.
Keeping your puppy on a schedule for getting up, going to bed and of course eating can go a long way into being helpful. Most people get up at around the same time every day, so that should be an easy one to be successful at. Then eating breakfast at the same time also follows the schedule. The same applies for going to bed at the same time every day.
This precise schedule will allow your puppy to quickly adapt to it. When puppies are really young, they can’t hold their pee at all. My motto is the second they drink or eat they need to go outside. Yes really it happens that fast. Puppies also tend to sleep a lot, so the second that they wake up, they need to go outside.
Following a tight schedule teaches your puppy when to go, but it also helps us know when they need to go out. Once the schedule is down, you will instantly notice a difference in the amount of accidents your puppy has in the house.
One really important factor that will help in being successful is patience. In the first 2 weeks, your patience will really be tested. You will feel like what you are doing isn’t working at all, even to the point of wanting to give up. But DON’T. Success is there, it just means that you need to dig deep for those patience.
The thing about a puppy that is the most frustrating is, you can let them out to pee and they go, then you come back inside only for them to pee again. It just doesn’t make sense.
STOP!!! then remember that your puppy is a baby and they really can’t help it. They are not purposely doing it, they just need you to pay more attention and NEVER NEVER get mad at your puppy for the accident. Fear is not away to stop your dog from doing any type of behavior that you don’t want from them.
- HOLD IT
Crate training, room blocking off, or door shutting, these are some ways to confine your dog safely. Confining our puppies allows them to learn to hold it. When you first get a puppy, they simply don’t have the bladder muscles to be able to hold their pee very long. We need to strengthen that muscle so that they can hold it longer.
Crate training is of course the most popular way to train your puppy that while they are in their crate, they need to not pee. Typically, dogs will not pee or poop in their den, and their crate is their den. Like anything new for your puppy, you need to confine them slowly. Start with a short time of leaving them, and then slowly spread that time out.
Making their crate a good experience will 100% guarantee that they don’t have mistakes while they are in there.
I have heard of dogs that do have accidents in their crates, but almost every time I heard this happening, it has been the parents fault, not the dogs. This can be caused by someone trying to rush things with your puppy.
Pushing too hard and leaving them to long to quick will only backfire on you. Remember the crate is supposed to help them learn to hold it, so if they are going in their crate, it isn’t working. Personally I would start over from the beginning. Short, relaxed and quiet time in the crate is the way to get them to try to understand.
Our boy Fergus is 15 weeks old and we have had him for about 5 weeks. Getting him at 10 weeks, he was not potty trained, but he had clearly come pee pad trained.
The way I knew that he had been used to using a pee pad, is that he always peed right on the rug at either door. I guess their thought was that they wanted him to learn that first, for when he was a young puppy he was too young to go outside.
I understand why they used pee pads when they have an entire litter of puppies. Holy imagine the mess.
For Fergus, we started with 3-4 pee accidents a day in the house, to within 10 days, he pretty much has it. Now I say he pretty much has it, because we can now go days without an accident. All of a sudden though we relax a bit, get too comfortable and he has an accident. This is our failure, not his. Yes he is 15 weeks old, but he is still a puppy and honestly it is expecting too much of them to early.
We use a crate to train him during the day and at night. He always sleeps in the crate for the entire night and within 1 week, could hold it the whole night. Fergus for us, has never had any accident in his crate to date. NOT ONE!!
He has also not pooped in the house EVER!! Yup you heard me never. How and why. Well to be honest, we are doing everything that I have just told you to do. No magic, just consistent, patience and going out with him every time in the beginning. When we go out their with him, we are saying “GO PEE” that way he knows what we are asking him to do.
The other point of using a catch phrase is that inside the house when you think they need to go, you can say it and hopefully they will react by going to the door.
Now inside the house, Fergus already knows that when I say “Do you have to go pee”? he already knows to go to the door. That success happened simply by being completely repetitive with him.
Yes to date he still has the odd accident in the house, but they are always due to us not paying attention. The toughest signal we seem to have trouble remembering is when he is playing. A puppy when they play automatically needs to go outside the second that they stop playing.
Fergus is definitely that guy, once the playing stops needs to go outside. More times than not, that is the accident we miss. Being constantly aware that asking him for too much to quick won’t help him. We take it one day at a time.
One thing that can also really help teach your dog that they need to go to the door to go outside to do their business is a bell. Many people bell train their dog to ring the bell hanging on the door knob. I have personally never done this, but I do know from friends that it works.
I have always had success with my dogs just learning to go to the door to let me know they needed out. Fergus has already learned that when he wants to poop, he just lets out a bark and we know to let him out. He doesn’t do that for a pee.
A puppy should be trained to go outside without accidents by the time they are 5-6 mos. Obviously some dog breeds are more stubborn then others and small dogs can even be that much more difficult to train. Not every dog will get it at the same time, so don’t get stuck on a specific age time frame. Just watch your dog and do your best to learn their limitations.
Learning how to housebreak your new puppy can be a little easier if you just follow my plan. Be consistent with what you are doing and don’t veer off the plan. Keeping to your plan all of a sudden they will get it. Small steps and repetition is the way to get to success quickly.