One of the first things a new dog owner wants to take care of is housebreaking. Cleaning up pet stains gets old fast, so you want to establish certain rules for “going” as early as possible.
Not sure how to start? Here are 6 tips for housebreaking your pet:
Set a Feeding Schedule
What goes in, must come out! A consistent feeding schedule means more consistent potty times.
Set food out during appropriate meal times, and keep the bowl out of reach in between. A dog that eats all day is unpredictable and will likely have more accidents.
If your dog is having nighttime accidents, it may be wise to put the water bowl away a couple hours before bed until they have gained more control.
Designate where to “Go”
Whether a pad inside, or the great outdoors, decide where your puppy is expected to relieve himself, and stick with it. Look for cues that he needs to go and bring him to the same spot every time. His scent will encourage him to go.
If your dog uses the appropriate area successfully, praise him with a very encouraging and enthusiastic “good dog!” and lots of petting as the reward.
Follow the 15-minute Rule
Puppies are most likely to use the bathroom 15 minutes after activities such as eating, playing, or napping. These activities stimulate elimination, so your pup should be given a chance to go afterwards.
A puppy can generally hold their bladder about an hour for every month of age, up to 8 hours. However, every dog is different, so you will figure out your pet’s limits through trial and error. You should give your new pup opportunities to go before they hit their limit, though, to avoid accidents.
Use Simple Verbal Cues
Choose some simple verbal cues and stay consistent.
Use a one-word cue such as “outside” when you are taking them out to pee. Make sure everyone in the family uses whatever command you choose, and in the same way.
Don’t use “outside” if you are taking your pup out to play with a ball or for a walk. Whatever you choose, tie the word to bathroom breaks only.
Reward Good Behavior
When your pup does a good job, let him know immediately!
Use “good dog” with a lot of inflection in your voice and a lot of physical praise as a cue to reinforce the desired behavior. If you wait to praise and reward your dog, he will not associate the reward with the behavior, and will not know what action to repeat.
In Case of an Accident
Despite your best efforts, accidents will happen.
If you witness your dog starting to urinate in the wrong place, sternly say “No!” and immediately bring them to their designated area. If they finish outside, tell them “Good dog!” and come back in immediately.
Against popular belief, if you do not see it happen, you should not scold your pet. Simply clean up the mess and try to catch it before it happens again. Bringing your pup to the spot to scold them well after the fact just confuses them. At that age, they will not understand what they did wrong.
The most important thing you can do is to be patient! Every puppy catches on at their own pace. Impatience will only make your pet anxious and prolong the process. So take a breath, stick with your system, and you will see results soon enough!
Veterinary Services in Potomac, Maryland
The responsibilities of a new puppy do not stop at potty-training. Regular preventative and wellness care is important to keeping your dog in its best health.