As soon as your puppy is leaves the "nest" of their mother, they are ready to start housetraining! Which means as soon as you bring your new puppy home, everyone needs to be ready to start training.
But the question is..how?? Do you use the old-fashioned newspaper method? How about puppy pads? Or neither?
Keep reading to see what we think is the best (but not the only) option for housetraining your puppy!
Many people think that it is cruel to crate a dog when in fact, it is a part of their natural instincts to have a "den" to sleep in. Mom will teach her puppies after a few weeks that it is not okay to pee or poo inside of the den. In addition to this, puppies will naturally not want to pee or poo in their crate because then they will have to sit in it for a while, which is uncomfortable (make sure your puppy's crate is the right size for them.) After a few days of being in your home, your puppy will no longer go in their crate. The problem, then, is making sure that they know not to pee or poo in your home at all. The only acceptable place is outside. The crate helps with this because you cannot be expected to keep one eye on your puppy at all times, even if you do work from home. If your puppy is in their crate, they cannot make a mess in whatever crevice they deem is an appropriate place (they also won't destroy your house, either.)
2. Time is KEY
Keep an eye on the clock when housetraining your puppy. Your puppy will need to go potty immediately after coming out of their kennel, every one or 2 hours (for new puppies) when left out, and at most 30 minutes after eating. They will also need to go out every 4 or 5 hours when in the kennel, as they cannot hold their tiny bladders for long. Yes, this means you MUST take your new puppy out in the middle of the night and in the middle of the day. If you do not work from home, come home to let your puppy out during your lunch break or ask a friend or neighbor to help you out for the time being.
3. Watch for Signs
Your pup will start to show signs when they need to go potty. While you will learn what these and different signs look like for each individual puppy, there are a couple to look out for. If your pup is playing and suddenly becomes disinterested, walking around away from their playing area, this is a good indicator that they might need to go outside. Also, if they start sniffing the ground and don't seem to have a good reason for it (such as looking for food around their dish if they've recently eaten), this is also a good sign they need to potty. Pick the puppy up immediately and head outside.
4. Positive Reinforcement
Get some good, high quality treats (whether these are standard training treats, or even lunch meats, cheeses, whatever food your puppy seems to value). Take the treats out with you when you put your puppy outside. If they go potty, offer the treat to them within 1 second of completing their elimination and cheer/clap/be ridiculously excited. This helps the idea that pottying outside is a good thing.
5. Pottying Inside
Contrary to this, if your puppy goes inside, do not punish them. Simply pick them up and put them outside. Then clean the area with a good enzyme cleaner. If they smell the pee or poo later it will encourage them to go there again, because dogs naturally understand to potty in places that smell like pee/poo. The fact that they get a treat when they potty outside but get put outside when they potty inside is a high indicator to them that it is better to go outside.
6. Controlling Your Dog's Diet
By making sure that your puppy does not have free access to food all day, you are better able to understand when they will need to go. All dogs generally need to go outside within 30 minutes of their last meal. It is best to feed a normal sized puppy around 3 times per day, so plan them around your own mealtimes.
7. DON'T Use Puppy Pads.
Puppy Pads are a popular way of housetraining a puppy. The problem with puppy pads is that many dogs never stop using them. They are also confusing to a puppy because you are trying to train them not to potty inside, but some parts of inside are okay to potty on. This will lead to the puppy experimenting as to what surfaces are okay to potty on. Blankets and towels can feel very similar to a puppy pad to a puppy. If you have the time to train your puppy to go on a pad, you have the time to train your puppy to go outside instead.
8. Live in an Apartment?
Apartments can be a difficult situation for many puppy owners to train their puppies. If you don't live on the main floor, it can be a pain to walk several flights of stairs if you think your puppy *might* need to potty. A solution for apartment-dwellers is to get a patch of fake grass. Ideally, you should put it out on your balcony if you have one. Otherwise, put it near the door. The fact that the fake grass does not feel like anything else in your apartment will reinforce that grass is where your puppy should go potty. Once the puppy is older and they are only pottying a few times a day, start taking them down to where some real grass is during the times they would normally potty.
We hope this helps any new puppy owners! Leave any questions or comments below!