DOs and DON'Ts of House Training

The most important thing to remember in training a new puppy is this: puppies and dogs learn best by being praised when they do the right thing. They rarely learn by being punished when they do the wrong thing. Housetraining is challenging, but can be made easier if you follow these basic dos and don'ts...and stick to them.

Keep in mind that a puppy is the equivalent of a human baby and has to eliminate frequently. Take the puppy out every two hours (by the clock) during normal waking hours, in addition to immediately after eating, waking and playing. It will also need to go out right before being bedded down for the night.

Pick the puppy up and take it to the same place each time. Praise and reward the puppy with a small treat immediately after it urinates or defecates in the designated place.

Allow the puppy to "go" several more times before bringing it in. Puppies don't have the ability to eliminate everything in their bladder and bowels on the first squat. If you bring it in prematurely, chances are you'll end up with an unwanted puddle or pile.

Make a loud noise to startle the puppy if you catch him in the act of eliminating in an improper place—this will make his body contract, and usually stop mid-stream—scoop him up and take him to the designated place to finish eliminating.

Thoroughly clean accident areas with a disinfectant and/or odor neutralizer.

Feed the puppy at regular intervals. This makes it much easier to regulate bowel movements and predict when it has to defecate.

Keep the puppy close to you when you are home. Confine it with a gate, or keep it on a leash that can be attached to your belt or slipped under the leg of a chair or table. This makes it easier to keep an eye on the puppy and monitor when it has to go out.

Utilize crate training.

Be patient and consistent, and make your puppy feel like it is the best puppy in the world when it eliminates in the right place!

As important as it is to know the right things, it is equally important to know the wrong things to do for housebreaking your puppy. The "wrong" things not only hinder your housetraining efforts, but can cause perminent unwanted behavior. Remember, puppies and dogs learn by being praised when they do the right thing, not by being punished when they do the wrong thing.

Remember, puppies and dogs learn by being praised when they do the right thing, not by being punished when they do the wrong thing.

Reprimand or punish the puppy when it has an accident. Puppies don't have the ability to understand that they are "in trouble" because they went in the house. This only frightens your puppy and makes it think that the act of urinating or defecating in itself is bad.

Take the puppy over to it's "mess" and put his face in it or show it to him. This is meaningless to the puppy, and again only frightens or confuses it. Furthermore, their train of thought is very short, and it will not understand the message you are trying to send.

Put the puppy outside by itself to eliminate. If you are not there to praise it immediately after it goes, it will not learn that it is supposed to urinate and defecate outside. If you wait to reward it when it comes back in the house, it will think that coming back to the house is "good," not because it went to the bathroom outside. Remember, their train of thought is very short!

Have unrealistic expectations of your puppy. Puppies don't have the ability to hold their bladder and bowels for extended periods of time. On the average, during waking hours, they don't have the ability to hold for longer than three to four hours until they are six months old.

Bring the puppy in immediately after it goes. It takes several "squats" for them to eliminate everything in their bladder and bowels.

Feed irregularly or feed excessive amounts of treats. A treat only has to be the size of a pea, and should only be used to reward good behavior. When house-training puppies, it is important that they associate urinating or defecating outside with the yummy treat that they are going to get. If treats are given "for free" then they don't develop the motivation to do the right thing.

Lose your temper, use corporal punishment, or loud verbal reprimands when the puppy slips up—because it will.

This is all part of the house-training process. Your puppy's progress depends largely on your patience and consistency.

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