The more vigilant the family is about reducing the puppy’s opportunity to have accidents and rewarding successes, the quicker and easier the puppy is trained, says Julie Jackson, canine behavior coordinator for the Dane County Humane Society in Wisconsin.
Begin training the first day you take your puppy home.
How often you’ll need to take him outside depends on his activities. Puppies normally need to go to the bathroom after they eat, drink, play, chew, or sleep.
After each of these activities, take your puppy outside on a leash and take along a small, tasty treat. Try to go to the same spot each time. The odor from the previous visits will remind him why he’s there. Once he starts to eliminate, softly praise him. When he finishes, immediately give him the treat and more praise.
Sometimes puppies urinate or defecate more than once per outing. After he relieves himself, don’t rush back inside. Wait a few more minutes just in case.
If you’re outside for more than 10 minutes and your puppy has not gone to the bathroom, go inside. Wait 10 minutes, then return outside and try again. Keep this up until he goes.
Make your puppy’s elimination schedule more predictable by feeding him the same amount of food, at the same time, every day.
To prevent indoor accidents, keep close tabs on him. Tie a leash around your waist or belt loop, and hook the clasp to your dog’s collar. Now everywhere you go, he goes too. Look for signs that your puppy may need to eliminate, such as sniffing the floor in circles, or trying to run out of sight.
If you’re not home during the day, use a baby gate to confine your pup in a room with tile or linoleum to make cleaning up accidents easier.
During your lunch break, go home to let your puppy outside. If you can’t, consider hiring a pet sitter, or asking a neighbor.
Housetraining pads are an unnecessary step in the housetraining process, according to Jackson. Your puppy is capable of learning right from the start that the appropriate place to eliminate is outside.
When an accident happens, don’t yell, hit or rub his nose in the mess.
If you catch puppy in the act, clap your hands and startle him, she says. Then scoop him up, take him to the backyard, and reward him for finishing out there.
With consistency, your puppy will start reliably going outside within several weeks, but Jackson warns not to let him have too much freedom, too soon. It can take up to nine months, she says, before he’s fully trained.