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Housetraining can be a daunting task if you don’t go about it right. With proper supervision and timely responses, any owner can have a fully housetrained puppy in no time.
1 – SUPERVISE – this really is the key. The most crucial step in the process. If you aren’t watching and the dog has an accident in the house, it’s a lost training opportunity. Don’t think that disciplining after the fact will help. It never will. It’s crucial that you actively supervise your puppy so that any accidents can be caught as they occur and proper feedback can be given. This may include an interruption, followed by bringing the puppy outside. No harsh corrections are needed or warranted. If you cannot supervise, use an appropriate crate.
2 – SCHEDULE – initially, this is very important. Learn about your puppy and their bathroom habits. Keeping a journal can be very helpful. Most puppies will need to pee after sleeping, eating and playing. Make sure you take them outside after these activities. Use your leash to direct them where you want them to eliminate and praise them when they go.
3 – FEEDBACK – be sure that you are able to praise your puppy when they go outside and stop them when they go inside. Any missed accidents are wasted opportunities and rehearsals of the wrong behaviour. This will work against you. In your absence, your dog is still getting feedback, but it's likely contrary to what you'd like them to understand. When a dog has to go to the bathroom, it doesn't feel good. When they go, it does feel good! That means, there is a level of reinforcement that comes along with emptying their bladder/bowel. If there isn't anyone there to tell them it's "wrong," they're likely to feel the relief and assume it's "right." Rehearsal of the wrong reinforcement will only set them up to make further mistakes.
4 – RESPONSIBILITY – once your puppy understands that they should eliminate outside, it’s time to put the onus of responsibility on them to ask to go there. Decide how you’d like to have your dog notify you that they need to go out and set it up. For example, you may want your pup to come to you, sit and stare. When you need to take your puppy out, start with them at that door, ask them to sit and look at you and as their reward, open the door to allow them out. As the scenario progresses, move further from the door. Initially, just a step or two, then progress to another room. Ask the puppy to sit and look at you, when they do, reward them by moving to the door and allowing them out.
With some diligence and information, any puppy can be well housetrained in no time!
As always, Happy Training!
Hi! I'm Shannon and I joined the McCann team in 1999 while training Quincey, my wonderful and spirited Rottweiler, to have good listening skills. I'm the Director of Online Training and Content for McCann Professional Dog Trainers and I enjoy writing about dogs and dog training for the McCann blog. I currently share my life with 2 Tollers (Reggie & Ned) and I love helping people develop the best possible relationship with their 4-legged family members.