House-training your puppy requires vigilance, patience, plenty of commitment and above all, consistency.
Establish a Routine
As a rule, a puppy can control his/her bladder 1 hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is 2 months old, he/she can hold it for about 2 hours. Don’t go longer than this between bathroom breaks or he’s/she’s guaranteed to have an accident.
Take your puppy outside frequently – at least every 2 hours – and immediately after he/she wakes up, during and after playing, and after eating or drinking.
Pike a bathroom spot outside – always take your puppy (on a leash) to that spot. While your puppy is eliminating, use a word or phrase, like “go potty”, that you can eventually use before he/she eliminates to remind him/her what to do. Take him/her out for a longer walk or some playtime only after he/she has eliminated.
Reward your puppy every time he/she eliminates outdoors. Praise him/her or give him/her a treat – but remember to do so immediately after he’s/she’s eliminating, not after he/she comes back inside the house. Puppies are easily distracted so if you praise him/her too soon, he/she may forget to finish until he’s/she’s back in the house.
Put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. What goes into a puppy on a schedule, comes out of a puppy on a schedule. Depending on their age, puppies usually need to be fed three or four times a day. Feeding your puppy at the same times each day will make is more likely that he’ll/she’ll eliminate at consistent times as well. Depending on what type of food the puppy eats (dry or canned), the amount of food eaten, and the amount of fiber in the diet will dictate how frequently the puppy will need to defecate. Typically, you can expect your puppy need to defecate anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour after he/she has eaten.
Pick up your puppy’s water dish about 2 ½ hours before bedtime to reduce the likelihood that he’ll/she’ll need to potty during the night. Most puppies can sleep for approximately 7 hours without having to eliminate. If your puppy does wake you up in the night to go potty, don’t make a big deal about it; otherwise he/she will think it’s time to play and won’t want to go back to sleep. Turn on as few lights as possible, don’t talk to or play with your puppy; take him/her out to do his/her business and return him/her to his bed.
Supervise your Puppy
Don’t give your puppy an opportunity to eliminate in the house; keep an eye on him/her whenever he’s/she’s indoors.
Tether your puppy to your or a nearby piece of furniture with a 6 foot leash if you are not actively training or playing with your puppy. Watch for signs that you puppy needs to eliminate; barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around or circling. When you see any of these signs, immediately grab the leash and take your puppy outside to his/her bathroom spot. If he/she eliminates, praise lavishly and reward with a treat. While house-training your puppy, your yard should be treated like any other room in your house so keep your puppy on a leash while they are in your yard.
Confine your puppy when you can’t supervise
When you’re unable to watch your puppy at all times, confine your puppy to an area small enough that he/she won’t want to eliminate there. The space should be just big enough for him/her to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. You can use a portion of a bathroom/laundry room blocked off with baby gates or crate train your puppy.
Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house; it’s a normal part of house-training. Here’s what to do when an accident happens:
- Interrupt your puppy when you catch them in the act of eliminating in the house. Make a startling noise (be careful not to scare him/her) or say “OUTSIDE!” immediately and take him/her to his/her bathroom spot. If he/she finishes eliminating outside, praise and give a treat.
- Don’t punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, it’s too late to administer a correction; just clean it up. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding, or any other punishment will only make him/her afraid of your or afraid to eliminate in your presence.
- Clean the soiled area with a product designed specifically to clean pet urine/feces.