Sometimes the simplest tasks are the hardest. While it is true that many breeders work hard to have puppies house broken from the whelping box, it doesn’t always work. Some puppy’s bladders do not develop until they are older. Other puppies are over stimulated, too busy, and too distracted.
Then there is the puppy who takes so long to potty that you are late for work. Sometimes a puppy’s schedule doesn’t fit into ours. It really doesn’t matter what the reason is. Peeing in the house needs to stop asap.
There is no magic technique that will guarantee your puppy will pee outside. There are a few ground rules you need to set. I do not withhold water from a puppy. This can cause more damage than good.
Before You Get Started:
Never punish a puppy for eliminating in the house. This only makes the problem worse. There is no benefit to punishing a puppy for peeing inside, but this type of correction can create future behavior problems.
Puppies will always try to pee where they have peed before. So it helps to keep some litter the puppy has peed on and place it where you want your puppy to pee.
Puppies will never poop where there is poop. It is important to keep a puppy’s area clean of fecal matter.
Puppies should not be given free run of the house until they have earned it. Keep them confined to small areas until they learn to pee outside. As they develop and become reliable they can be allowed more freedom.
Potty training is all about making sure you are ready when puppies need to go.
Puppies usually need to go to the bathroom 20 minutes after waking up, and after eating.
It is very difficult to clean a carpet properly. Do not let puppies on a carpet until they are fully potty trained.
Management of Housebreaking
Your schedule needs to be set up around the puppy’s. You need to gauge when it needs to go to the bathroom, and when it has accidents. If it goes outside, and then comes in an pees, then you need to bring it in and take it outside again.
Don’t put the puppy in the backyard, or wandering around following the puppy. Instead pick an area for the puppy to potty in. I make an 8’ lattice ‘area’. I line it with shavings so that the puppy learns to ‘do his business’ on shavings. I put the puppy in this area and wait. When the puppy finishes I let it out and play with it.
Reinforcing Good Behavior
One of the biggest mistakes is to take the puppy into the house after it finishes eliminating. This teaches the puppy that the fun ends when it ‘goes’. A good rule of thumb is to let the puppy explore for 5 minutes and play for 5 minutes. Then use a ‘cue’ to alert the puppy that it is time to go into the house.
Play is one of the best ways to reinforce good behavior. Taking a puppy for a walk is not always a positive way to teach a puppy to potty outside. The puppy cannot associate the walk with the act of pottying outside.
Putting the Act on Cue
I say ‘pee’ when puppies are going. By the time they are 6 months old, most, can pee on command.
You can also teach a puppy to ask to go out. The most successful way is to ring bells when the puppy eliminates. Then hang the bells on the back door. Ring them as you open the door. Reward the puppy for ringing them by taking the puppy out.
This works if you are using a small potty area. If the puppy gets the freedom of the back yard, then it will think the bells mean ‘freedom and play.’
It is not normal behavior for a puppy to ask to go out. They do not. Instead, they squat and pee as soon as their bladder is uncomfortable. They will often wait until they feel safe, which usually means they are inside the house.
One of the most common ways to train a puppy is by using a crate. There are two ways. I prefer the method where there is a potty area on one side of the crate and sleeping area on the other. This method works when you cannot be there.
Don’t Abandon Your Puppy
Your puppy needs you to be outside with it. They need to relax before eliminating. They also need to be controlled so they don’t run off and play and forget why they are outside.
It is frustrating. If you are inside the puppy pees 10 minutes after eating or drinking. If you are outside it can be 30 minutes before s/he eliminates. There isn’t much you can do about this.