Adopting a puppy is exciting but also a bit nerve-wracking. If your new pooch is not already house-trained, you should start training
immediately to preserve your peace of mind and keep your home sanitary. Most dogs can be trained to consistently do their duty in a designated spot outdoors in just a few short weeks.
Tools You Will Need to House-train
Gather the following items to help you house-train your dog.
- An enzymatic stain and odor remover
- A handheld black light
- Paper towels
- A wire crate with comfortable bedding
- A collar and leash
- Treats and toys
Prepare Your House
If animals have previously lived in your home, begin by removing odors from previous pets’ accidents. Turn off the lights and walk from room to room with the handheld black light, which will illuminate stains you can’t see in regular light. Treat these with the enzymatic cleaner, following label directions. You must remove as many odors as possible. Otherwise, your new puppy will think, “This must be where I’m supposed to relieve myself!”
Find a good place for the wire crate and ensure its bedding is comfortable. Keep the collar and leash handy near the door for walks.
Establish a Routine to House-train
Taking your dog outdoors on a schedule will keep your dog happier and more secure and make house training more successful. Establish designated times to take your dog out for potty breaks first thing in the morning, late morning, midafternoon, early evening and right before bedtime. Also, take your pup outside after eating, drinking, playing, or chewing on a toy. Continue to observe her carefully for signs she needs to go out between scheduled breaks, such as sniffing the ground and furniture (especially male dogs), circling, and walking stiff-legged. If you can’t be home all day when you are house-training, arrange for a dog sitter or friend to keep your pup on schedule.
As your dog learns that outside is the place for elimination, she will begin going to the door and whimpering or scratching the door to go out.
Establish a Place to House-train
Once a dog has found a place to do her duty, she will return to it, so start taking your puppy to the place in your yard where you want her to go. As you leave the house, use the word “outside” so that she associates that word with going potty. When you get to her spot, consistently say “go potty” or another term. After a few trips outside, she will recognize “outside” and “go potty” as cues to eliminate.
When you walk your dog on a leash, have her do her business in a greenbelt or vacant lot. Neighbors may object to you letting your dog eliminate on their lawn or front flower bed, even if the dog merely urinates. If your dog drops a bomb, have a plastic bag at the ready to pick it up and dispose of the bag once you get home.
Give Treats and Praise for Desired Behavior
When first training your dog to potty outside, bring treats to reward her success. Once, she regularly goes outdoors, praise her profusely, pet her and offer the occasional treat when she goes where she is supposed to.
Crate Time is a Great Time
When house-training your dog, don’t allow her to roam the house when you can’t attend to her. Instead, keep her in the crate overnight or when you’re away from the house.
A dog crate should be big enough for your pooch to enter without stooping and for her to turn around easily inside. Position the crate in a convenient place. Make sure the crate bedding is soft and cushy. If you rub the bedding on your skin before you put it in the crate, your dog will associate the bedding with your scent.
Introduce your puppy to the crate by laying a treat inside near the back so that she associates crate time with a reward. Never force your dog into the crate. Start by keeping her in the crate for a few minutes and gradually extend the time she spends in it.
Take your dog outside for a toilet break just before crate time, then again right afterward if she has been in the crate for an hour or more. In between, watch for behavioral clues, such as whimpering, that she needs to go out during crate time. If your dog doesn’t go potty, crate her for 10 minutes, then try again.
Never use the crate for banishment when your pup’s been naughty. The crate will become a positive place of security if you use it correctly.
Your dog is going to have accidents in the house. Never get angry, spank or yell at your dog. Show the accident to her, but do not rub her nose in it. Then take her to the door, repeat the verbal cue “outside,” and take her outdoors to show her the proper place to go. Accidents happen when you are not yet attentive to your dog’s signals or when she needs to go badly. Remember, a puppy’s bladder is tiny. Never blame your dog for accidents.