Puppy Housebreaking 101

Puppies downright cute, loveable, playful. You can’t help but smile when you see one. That is until, you step in a tiny piddle puddle or mound of dodo. That’s right, we’re talking about pee and poop! The most dreadful part of owning a puppy is housebreaking. In reality, housebreaking your puppy is very easy if it’s done right. Here are some very basic tips that will have your puppy housebroken in a matter of weeks!

  • Be realistic! Remember that your puppy is a baby! Would you expect a 1 year old human infant to be potty trained? No, of course not! Training does take time but above all it requires PATIENCE, PERSISTENCY & CONSISTENCY

  • Rule of thumb – your puppy can hold his bladder for roughly 1 hour per month of age plus 1. So, for example, a 3 month old puppy can hold his bladder for approximately 4 hours so please don’t ever ask him to hold it for 8.
  • Chewing (whether it’s a non-edible chew toy or actual a food meal) will make your puppy feel the urge to have a bowel movement. So if your puppy was only out an hour ago and is now sitting quietly chewing his chew bones he will feel that urge to have to go again.
  • It’s up to YOU to watch for his signals that he has to go such as sudden loss of interest in what he was previously doing, sniffing, wandering, circling, whining. If you see these signs you need to act fast! Whisk your puppy up fast and rush him outdoors (see next).
  • ALWAYS accompany your puppy outdoors on a leash. Never tie him out or let him run free in the yard. It’s imperative that you be with him so you can offer lots of praise when he uses the bathroom. Feel free to offer a very small tidbit for a treat only if he goes. Remember what goes in must come out so go very easy on the treats. Always take him to the same location and give him a command such as “go pee”.  Be consistent! Do not praise if he does not eliminate only if he does. Taking him to the same location will allow him to sniff the area and remind him to mark his territory again. Praise praise praise! So what if your neighbours think you’re a little on the crazy side!
  • Put your puppy on a strict feeding schedule. Remember above when I said “what goes in must come out”. If you know exactly when he’s eating you’ll be better able to know when he has to go outside. Whether you feed him 3-4 times/day is your choice – just remember that he will have to go outside within about 30 minutes after eating. If you allow him to graze in his food dish all day he’ll be having more bowel movements per day and will be incredibly difficult to monitor when that’ll happen. You can always switch to graze feeding (measured portions of course) once he’s older, fully trained and trusted.
  • Crate your puppy! Some people have hang-ups about using a crate. There are many GREAT reasons why you should adjust your puppy to a crate from the moment you bring him into your home – housebreaking is one of them. If you give your puppy free-roam of the house it’s very easy for him to sneak off into a corner and eliminate without you even noticing. Never give him the opportunity to do this! You must keep your eyes on your puppy at all times. When you can’t supervise he should be crated. Dogs are naturally clean animals and normally will not eliminate where they sleep, their mama dog would have made sure of that when they were still with her. She cleaned up vigilantly behind them. If you are adamant that you do not want to use a crate then tie your puppy to you with a leash – this way he will be constantly underfoot leaving you no choice but to keep your eyes on him at all times, therefore, more likely to see his signals.
  • Clean up all indoor messes right away – Standard household cleaners will mask the scent so that you can no longer smell it. Keep in mind that your puppy has a much greater sense of smell than humans do. If you’re not using the right products he will still smell it and will be inclined to keep marking that same location with his scent. There are many products out on the market that are designed to break down the enzymes so they can no longer be detected by your puppy.
  • Pee pads – are, in my opinion, a waste of time and money unless you plan to use them forever. You will still eventually need to train your puppy to go outside so why not just cut out that middle step and jump right to outdoor training? It’s VERY possible for very young puppies to be fully outdoor trained. My own dogs were fully outdoor trained by the age of 12-16 weeks. Pee pads are simply teaching your puppy that it’s OK to eliminate indoors – breaking him of that habit when he’s older will be incredibly difficult plus not to mention incredibly confusing for him.  It’s much easier to teach him that it’s NOT ok at all and that the great outdoors is his bathroom.

Happy Housebreaking!