How to House Train Your New Puppy

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House breaking a puppy takes time and patience.
House breaking a puppy takes time and patience. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Puppies do not gain full bladder and bowel control until at least 4 months of age. Some puppies take a bit longer to develop full control, just as some children do. House training a puppy can take patience and understanding. You must establish a routine and stick to it for the dog to learn what to do.

Choose a safe place where you want the puppy to relieve itself. The site must be a place where the dog feels at ease when you are not able to supervise her. This can be a spot outside, or a crate large enough for the dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably.

Watch the dog early in the process. Do not let him out of the crate until he's done his business.

Pick up the puppy if you see her starting to have an accident somewhere other than the designated site. Take her to that site quickly and calmly, but do not yell or punish the dog. Doing so can damage the bond you are trying to form with her and make her distrustful of you. When the dog does its business where it's supposed to, give her a treat.

Take the puppy to her designated relief area every one or two hours in the early stages of house training. Praise or reward her when she does what she's supposed to do in the right place.

Feed the puppy a high-quality growth formula puppy food at least three times daily. A good diet will ensure his stools are well formed and consistent and will help avoid accidents caused by an "upset stomach." Feed the dog at the same time each day to help develop a routine. This will make it easier for you to determine when he needs to go this relief area.

Tips & Warnings

  • When you are not able to supervise your puppy, she needs to be in her safe place where she cannot make mistakes. Remember, if your puppy has an accident in the house, it it your fault, not hers. It means you were not paying enough attention to her.
  • Puppies do not gain full bladder and bowel control until at least 4 months of age. Some puppies take a bit longer to develop full control, just as some children do. Be patient with your puppy and give her the time she needs to mature.
  • If your puppy does have accidents in the house, make sure you clean the spot thoroughly with a bacterial enzyme odor eliminator, such as Nature's Miracle. You can purchase this in most pet stores. You can also use white vinegar if the spot is still wet, but the vinegar won't work well once the spot has dried.
  • Making certain your puppy is free of intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and Giardia, is important also. These parasites can cause loose bowels or diarrhea, making house training more difficult.
  • Never punish your puppy by hitting her, rubbing her nose in her mess, yelling at her, or hurting her. This can create more behavior problems, such as a puppy who won't relieve herself in front of you or a puppy who starts to become fearful and defensive. She may start to snap at you or attempt to bite you out of fear of punishment, or she may start to urinate submissively in front of you.
  • It is fine to bring your puppy's crate into your bedroom at night if you prefer. However, she needs to learn to be quiet in the crate so that you can sleep. So be careful not to let her out of the crate just because she is making noise.
  • If you choose to let your puppy sleep on the bed with you, you should wait to do so until she is fully house trained.

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