Housebreaking is one of the most frustrating and difficult parts of owning a new puppy. Tragically, many puppies are surrendered to shelters every year specifically because their humans have trouble housebreaking them.
It doesn’t have to be like this. If you can avoid some simple mistakes you and your puppy can generally find great success.
1. You’re not being consistent.
Do you use the same words every time you want your puppy to go potty? Are you placing the puppy pads or papers in the same spot each time? Are you taking your puppy outside at the same times every day?
Dogs learn by association. So if you say, “Go do your business” one day and “Potty time” the next you aren’t giving him a chance to associate the words with the deed. Consistency avoids confusion and helps your puppy be successful.
2. You expect too much.
Puppies don’t have very big bladders and they can’t “hold it” as long as you think they can. If you’re getting frustrated and angry with a puppy’s messing it’s probably a good idea to stop and take a breath.
Think about offering more outside time. Don’t give the puppy the run of the house, but potty train in designated areas that are easy to clean up. Remember that a puppy, like a toddler, isn’t always fully in tune with his own body.
And if you’re not being watchful for those moments when it is “outside time” then it’s going to be very hard for your puppy to succeed.
3. You’re resorting to cruel punishments.
“Just rub his nose in it” is old school thinking. It’s also very cruel. It doesn’t really teach the puppy anything except that you are willing to hurt him.
You can, however, use the puppy’s sense of smell to your advantage. Small dogs can even be trained to use puppy pads in litter boxes. See this article if you’d like to know more.
Shouting at your puppy won’t help either. It’s your job to align the puppy’s instincts and understanding with the behavior that you want. Remember the dog is not deliberately defying you!
4. You aren’t offering enough outside time.
Again, puppies have smaller bladders than you think. More outside time might help a great deal.
In Train Your Dog the Lazy Way author Andrea Arden even suggests taking your puppy out to do his business every hour on the hour, simply assuming that he’ll need to go. Eventually he’ll get the idea, and you’ll get a sense for how often he truly needs to go.
Of course, this means that you have to have the discipline to set a timer and to make sure you stop what you’re doing long enough to take your puppy out. But if you do this, the puppy learns that he’s got a safe place to meet his needs and that you are going to see to those needs in a loving way, setting you both up for a stronger relationship in the future.
5. You aren’t getting the help you need.
You can’t take your puppy out every hour on the hour because you’ve got to work? You’re overwhelmed by the demands of puppy training and don’t know what to do?
Housebreaking is a great time to enlist the help of a qualified, knowledgeable pet sitter who can help you meet your puppy’s needs. If you live in the Washington, DC area why not call pet peeps today? We can help you make sure your puppy gets enough outside time to make house training less frustrating for both of you.