You made your decision. Your family will be adding a puppy to the mix. Congrats! Puppies are so cute, and so much fun. Your family needs to housebreak your new puppy, otherwise he might not stick around. Follow these 7 tips to housebreak a puppy in no time at all.
#1. Get a crate.
I know they seem like a little jail for your new puppy, but they are the best way to housebreak a puppy and keep him out of trouble. Get a crate that is big enough for your new puppy to stand up, sit down, and turn around. If you know the breed, the pet supply store people can help you find the right size. Puppy waits in the crate whenever you can’t supervise him or her. When you’re cooking dinner, running the vacuum, or putting the kids to bed, make him wait in his crate. Make sure to have him out of the crate as much as possible, but also make sure to put him up whenever you can’t watch him. It won’t just teach him to “hold it,” but will also teach him to chill in there quietly when you need him to (like when someone visits who doesn’t like dogs.)
#2. Watch Him.
You’ve got to have eyes on him whenever he’s not in his crate. Watch carefully for any little sign that he’s thinking about pooping or peeing on the floor. Signs include:
- Sniffing the floor while walking around
- Circling one area with his nose down
- Hip movements
Watch for his signs, and get to know them. As soon as you see one of his signs, run him out the door. The only way to housebreak a puppy is to get him outside every single time he thinks about peeing or pooping.
#3. Get him out!
As soon as he starts squatting, pick him up and get him outside. He might not stop, and you might have a mess to clean up on the way, but if you don’t interrupt him, he won’t understand that he shouldn’t pee or poop in the house. Take him to the spot you want him to potty, and tell him to “go potty.” Eventually he will learn to go potty on command—helpful when he’s traveling.
#4. Frequent visits.
Spend as much time outside with him as you can. Make sure to watch him like a hawk outside, so you can tell him how awesome he is every time he poops or pees outside. You want him to realize that good stuff happens when he potties outside, and nothing good happens when he potties inside. This also means that, at first, you need to find a way to get him out every few hours, even while you’re working. You might need to hire a dog walker for his first few months, or send him to puppy daycare. It’s vital that he poops or pees inside as little as possible.
#5. Other Dogs
As with most training, if you have access to other dogs that do the right thing, get him around those dogs as much as possible. They’ll teach him how to ask to go out, and what to do when he’s out. Dogs might be kind of dumb, but they pay attention to what other dogs do and try to do the same thing. They enjoy working as a group.
#6. Clean up well.
He will have accidents. Clean them up thoroughly, every time. An enzyme cleaner is necessary. He will smell that he’s gone potty there before, and will try to use the same spot. Get a proper enzyme cleaner, like Nature’s Miracle, and clean thoroughly each time. If you haven’t had the carpet cleaned recently, have it cleaned before you bring him home, especially if you have other dogs or were potty-training your kids. Anywhere they’ve had an accident, he’ll be more likely to have one, too.
It takes months to properly housebreak a puppy. He will be in the “habit” of going outside after a few weeks, but it won’t be ingrained that he must go outside until he’s much older. He won’t understand that he needs to ask to go out until he’s 6 or 7 months of age, maybe even older, depending on his breed and other factors. Like children, dogs go through mental growth spurts. Un-training a housebroken puppy can happen in the first few months, even if he was doing well for weeks prior. Keep to the system until he’s at least a year old and consistently asking to go out.
He’s housebroken, but tears up the house…
Aw, that’s no fun. Check out my tips and tricks for separation anxiety.