Puppies are a lot of work, but housebreaking doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s what I recommend to get your puppy potty trained in no time:
-Supervise your puppy at all times in the house. This allows you to instantly reward behaviors you like and correct behaviors you don’t like. I recommend keeping your puppy loosely tethered to you to ensure he can’t wander off and get in trouble.
-Buy a crate about 2x the size of your puppy and keep him in the crate when you can’t supervise him. The best way to help your puppy like his crate is to feed him in there. Make it a happy place by providing him with plenty of bones to chew on and comfortable bedding. Puppies do not like to relieve themselves in places where they sleep, but if the crate is too big, your puppy will be more inclined to relieve himself in it. If your puppy has an accident in the crate, wipe down the crate completely with warm soapy water and wash any blankets or towels.
-When you take your puppy out of the crate, carry him outside, set him in the grass, and stand there. Do not talk to him, praise him or pet him until he goes potty. As he’s going potty say “Good boy, go potty” so he associates the command “Go potty” with what he’s doing in the moment. After he potties, give him a treat and lots of praise and love. Make sure he knows how pleased you are with him!
-The rule of thumb for puppies is that they can hold their bladder one hour for each month of age. For example, an 8 week old puppy can only hold his bladder for about 2 hours. That means he needs frequent potty breaks so if you work during the day, arrange for someone to let him out 2-3x while you’re gone and at night, set your alarm so you can wake up and take him out. Don’t wait for him to whine to give him a potty break. (That’s teaching him to wait.) Teach him to trust that you know what he needs, and you’ll provide it for him. Do not play with your puppy when you take him out at night. Simply carry him outside, let him go potty, then bring him back inside. You may give him a bone to chew on in his crate so he’s not bored.
-Do not give your puppy unlimited access to water. Give him small amounts of water several times throughout the day and be sure to follow up with a potty break about 30 minutes after giving your puppy water. Be sure to give your puppy enough water to make sure he’s not dehydrated.
-Do not give your puppy water at night before bed. Cut off water 3 hours before bedtime so your puppy has plenty of time to relieve himself and isn’t trying to sleep with a full bladder.
-If your puppy had an accident in the house when you weren’t looking, simply clean it up with a paper towel then carry it outside. Show your puppy the paper towel in the grass so he can associate the smell of pee/poop with being outside (instead of inside). When you go back inside, be sure to fully clean the area where your puppy had an accident. Wash with soapy water then spray with white vinegar oil and water to rid the area of all odors.
-If your puppy starts to have an accident in the house, and you catch him in the act, say “No” and quickly carry him outside to finish his business.
-Learn to read your puppy’s body language. If he starts sniffing the ground and/or circling, chances are he needs to go out. Scoop him up and take him outside. If he potties, follow up with lots of praise and a treat if you have one!
-Training your puppy to ring a bell when he needs to go out is easy! Simply put the bell next to the door and ring it before you take him out. He’ll start to associate the bell with going potty. Then use the clicker training tool to teach him to ring the bell himself. (Ask me how!)
Housebreaking doesn’t have to be difficult. Be consistent with follow these tips, and you’ll have your puppy housebroken in no time. Havok had a total of 7 accidents in the house, and he was fully housebroken by 10 weeks of age. Anytime a puppy goes through my board and train, he/she is fully house trained within a week or two.