We are getting a new puppy and are really worried about how to get her house trained. I remember my parents using a rolled up newspaper to correct my childhood dog, but know that is not an appropriate way to train! Any potty training tips? -Marie, Beaumont, TX
Congratulations on your new puppy! House training can definitely be a daunting task, but with attention and consistency you will soon be headed toward potty time bliss.
Select a site outdoors that you want to be used for elimination purposes. It is important to focus on where you want your puppy TO go, as opposed where she is not supposed to go. Puppies may more easily learn if a single potty spot is chosen.
Knowing when puppies are most likely to eliminate is another key step to successful training. The urge to eliminate is strongest after eating, drinking, upon waking up and after playing. So take your puppy to the selected potty area within 30 minutes of any of these activities.
In addition, most puppies must eliminate at least every 3-4 hours, especially during the daytime. Not taking your puppy out frequently enough or at the right times is a common cause for training delays.
When you take your puppy to the chosen potty area, give her a short, encouraging command such as “Go potty” or “Get busy”. As soon as elimination occurs, lavish her with praise and attention. A small treat may also be given.
The timing of the reward is important . Be sure it is immediately after elimination and not when you go back inside to avoid confusion about why they are being rewarded. I made that mistake years ago with my first dog. She would bark to go outside, then turn right back around to come inside for her treat!
You should take your puppy out on a short leash and, except for the potty command, stand still and ignore her until the transaction occurs. If she has not gone in 5 minutes, bring her back inside with no attention, but strict supervision until you can try again.
Your purpose is for her to understand that with no toileting there is no reward. Some puppies learn that they can play, run, sniff and have a great time outside until they go potty, but then the fun stops and they must go back inside once they eliminate. So they hold it until they are back in the “boring” house and then they go.
When your puppy is indoors, she must be strictly supervised so you can see when she has to go potty and take her outside to her elimination area. Cues for which to watch include circling, squatting, sneaking away, or heading to the door. If these signs are noted, you should immediately take your puppy to her potty spot.
One of the best ways to keep your puppy supervised is to tether train – attach a leash to your belt and to your puppy. Then she will not be able to sneak away and have an accident and you can pay attention to her cues. When not able to supervise your puppy, a confinement area such as a crate should be used.
If an accident does occur, there is absolutely no point in punishing your puppy. Puppies cannot correlate a mess on the floor with knowing they should have toileted outside. In fact, they may even learn to fear eliminating in front of you (indoors AND outdoors) due to the threat of punishment.
Maybe a rolled up newspaper should be used – to thump you in the head for not paying close enough attention! Move the puppy to another room and quietly clean up the mess, vowing to supervise more closely in the future.
By taking your puppy outdoors on a regular basis to her potty area and providing appropriate encouragement and praise for success, you should be well on your way to a housetrained puppy and a pee-free house.