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How to Housebreak Your Puppy

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How to Housebreak Your Puppy

One of the most challenging things for a lot of new dog owners that bring home a puppy is housebreaking. It can cause a lot of frustration if you are not sure how to get your new best friend to understand that outside is where to go. Learn how to housebreak your puppy with the following tips that take out the guesswork and will make it much easier.

What Not to Do When Housebreaking a Puppy

The biggest thing you have to remember is you are asking your dog to do something they do not understand in the slightest and getting mad or punishing them when you find an accident does not work. Research has shown that dogs most likely do not feel guilt. So, if they went to the bathroom on your carpet while you are at work and you find it hours later, the dog has no clue why you are yelling at them. Yes, they will respond to your tone and body language, but it’s not because they understand what they did. They just know you’re upset, and it makes them fearful. The look on your dog’s face is fear, not guilt! So don’t punish. It will damage your relationship with your dog and do nothing to help with housebreaking.

Second, ditch those potty pads! Unless you plan on using potty pads or a litter box to allow your dog to go to the bathroom in the house permanently, all potty pads do is add an extra step to the process. Why? Because you are literally using a product that is scented to encourage your dog to go the bathroom inside, which is the exact opposite of what you want!

Tips for Housebreaking a Dog

The following tips will help making housebreaking a puppy or even an adult dog easy.

Keep Them Contained. The first big thing is do not just set your new puppy on the floor and let them loose in your house. All that space is a recipe for an accident. Dogs are den animals. They don’t like to go to the bathroom in their den – this is the key to easy puppy housebreaking.

Instead, prepare a space like an x-pen or a small, puppy-proofed bathroom with a blanket, water dish, toys and a crate. (That crate is going to become your and your dog’s best friend!). When you get them home, the first stop should be outside to see if they need to potty after the car ride – they most likely will.

ANYTIME YOUR PUPPY GOES POTTY OUTSIDE, YOU NEED TO MAKE IT A BIG DEAL! Lots of praise, pets and treats! Your puppy should know it’s the best thing ever. If you want to put it on a cue, say the cue like “Go Potty” while your puppy is going to the bathroom, and then praise and reward when they are finished.

If they didn’t go, take them inside and put them in their crate for a few minutes – this is not punishment so do not be gruff, or you will make them hate their crate! After a few minutes, take them back outside to see if they will go potty now. Repeat until they do and then big party!

After they have gone to the bathroom outside, the best reward is that then they get to be out of their pen area and with the family. Soon your puppy will learn that going to the bathroom outside gets them freedom in the house, and that is a BIG reinforcer.

At the same time, be sure you are feeding your puppy in his crate and making it a “happy spot” with toys and a blanket. The crate should never be used for punishment.

IMPORTANT: Keep your puppy in the contained area whenever you cannot watch them, with the crate door open, so they can come and go from it as they please. You can also start leaving them in the crate, with the door closed, for short intervals – meal time is the best time to do this, as it associates the crate with a dog’s favorite thing, food!

Take Them Out at Key Times. There are certain times that almost every puppy has to go the bathroom, and if you are diligent about taking them out, you will have very few accidents during this process.

· Right when they wake up. Whether it was a nap during the day or in the morning.

· After they have eaten. Some dogs will go immediately after, some 20 minutes or so. Start by taking your puppy out immediately. If they don’t go, put him in his crate and try again in a few minutes. Soon you will learn your dog’s timetable.

· After they have run around/played.

Remember to put them in their crate and try again after a few minutes if they don’t go at any of these times.

Tether Them. When you do let your puppy out of their x-pen or crate, have them tethered to you with a leash. This way they can’t wander off and go to the bathroom somewhere. You will be right there and can watch for signs of having to go. Signs include sniffing the ground a lot, pacing back and forth and/or circling.

Following these simple steps along with doing crate training exercises, Susan Garrett’s Crate Games are wonderful! They will make housebreaking your puppy easy and – bonus! – they will be crate trained too!

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