Do you have a new puppy? It must be adorable—but unfortunately, its little ‘accidents’ are not. Here are some tips on how to housebreak your new pet, and protect your carpet (and your sanity) from doggy doo-doo disasters.
1. Start immediately.
Some dogs are easier to housebreak than others (it depends on the breed and your pet’s unique temperament) but nevertheless, it’s easier to establish good habits right away than to correct bad ones.
Remember to be patient yet consistent. Don’t yell or hurt your puppy just because it doesn’t get things right away. (Training tip: it learns faster if it is rewarded for good behavior, not punished for bad behavior.) However, don’t break your own rules by ignoring an accident just because you’re busy. Your puppy will be confused by any mixed signals. For this reason, make sure everyone in the family helps with the potty-training, so all of you reinforce the rules.
We won’t kid you. This is a long, smelly and messy process but it is part of the responsibility you assumed when you decided to get a pet.
2. Set boundaries.
It’s easier to housebreak a dog if you first limit the areas where it can explore. Don’t let it run freely around your home until it finally learns where it should go when it wants to, uh, ‘go.’
3. Spread papers.
Once you’ve limited the area, pick out the ‘potty area.’ Ideally this is a tiled or vinyl area (easier to clean up) that’s well ventilated and easy for your puppy to access. Then spread a few layers of newspaper over the entire floor. Yes, the whole thing. (Later on you can mark a smaller section, but for now, you just want your dog to associate newspapers with the potty.)
Whenever your puppy pees or poops on the paper, lavish it with praise and lots of hugs. Then, replace the soiled sheets with fresh ones – but don’t throw these away! Place them in the specific spot where you’d like your puppy to ‘do the deed’ in the future. (Pick a spot that’s very far away from the dog’s bed and food bowl.)
Eventually your dog will associate paper with the potty.
4. Anticipate potty time.
Puppies (like small babies) have immature bladder control. So it’s best to periodically bring it to the ‘potty area’ every half hour (like after playing or a meal).
5. Be firm but gentle.
If you catch your puppy in the middle of an accident, don’ spank or rub its nose in its puddle! Instead, try to distract or startle it with a loud noise and move it to the right area. If it finishes its business there, praise it like it was the smartest puppy in the world.
6. Shrink the potty area.
You may notice that your puppy tends to go in the same place. Gradually remove the sheets from the areas that it ignores so that it’s official ‘potty area’ becomes smaller. Congratulations, you’re halfway there!
If your puppy still has frequent accidents, backtrack and cover a larger area, It has to get the idea that it has a ‘sleeping area,’ a ‘food area’ and a ‘potty area’ (which it associates with newspapers).
7. One sheet, and you’re done!
Eventually you have shrunk the ‘potty area’ to just one or two sheets of newspapers, placed in the permanent ‘potty spot.’ IF you’d like to train your dog to the deed outdoors, gradually move the sheet (a foot at a time) to the part of the garden. However, it’s best to introduce this when your dog is completely housebroken and always goes to the newspaper when it feels any bathroom urges.