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How to House-train a Puppy

The first thing you should know about how to house-train a puppy is the importance of consistency. Teach your puppy to relieve himself in the same location. The more often you take him outside when he has to go, the sooner he'll learn that he's always supposed to go outside. Once you become familiar with your puppy's routine, you'll start recognizing the signs (circling, sniffing at one spot) that he has to go.

Know when to go

As a general rule, you should take your puppy outside:

  • First thing in the morning and after naps
  • Before, during and after playing
  • 10-20 minutes after a meal
  • Before bedtime
  • At least once during the night until he reaches 4-5 months old

Potty-training a puppy means routine

Once you establish a designated elimination spot, follow a consistent routine every time you take your puppy out. As he circles and sniffs the area, say "go potty," and continue saying it as he relieves himself. When your puppy has finished, offer calm praise and say "good potty."

Don't reward with a treat; the treat is the relief he feels from going potty. Your puppy will begin to associate "go potty" with the relief he feels and will soon go potty on command.

Here are some more tips that will help create a consistent training routine with a new puppy:

  • Keep a consistent daily feeding schedule
  • Remove food between meals
  • Maintain a familiar home environment - i.e., delay any redecorating or renovations

Helpful tools

When house-training a puppy, the following are some items you'll find helpful to the process:

  • Crate - dogs like having a safe "den" all to themselves.
  • Puppy pads - absorbent pads scented to attract dogs to a designated elimination spot.
  • Pet stain & odor remover - accidents will happen, and these cleaners are specially formulated to get rid of the stain and the accompanying odor so dogs won't be tempted to return and re-mark the same spot.

Troubleshooting the challenges

Potty-training a puppy can take a few weeks or a few months. All dogs learn at a different pace, so try to be patient.

However, if you feel like your dog is having trouble learning to go outside, there may be a number of causes:

  • He may have a urinary tract infection or other medical condition
  • He may be marking (if he's over three months of age and relieves himself on vertical surfaces)
  • He may be feeling anxious or depressed
  • He may have a submissive/excitement urination problem (if he only urinates during greetings, play, physical contact, or scolding)

Or your dog may simply need more time to learn. Whatever your concern, be sure to talk with your vet for help in diagnosing and treating any issues.

Remember to be patient and keep these tips in mind when house-training a dog. Successful house-training needs your time, commitment, caring and attentiveness.