Step 1: Get the Right Stuff
Positive housetraining goes much faster when you have the right equipment. That stuff includes, first and foremost, a crate. This enclosure will be your puppy’s private space. Whenever you can’t give him your undivided attention, your puppy should be in his crate.
You also need a flat buckle collar and a 6-foot leash of either leather or nylon, so you can safely take your puppy to his outdoor potty spot.
Step 2: Make Scents
Your puppy’s nose is far more sensitive than yours. The canine sniffer has 40 times more scent receptors than yours, his brain’s olfactory center is considerably larger than yours and his nose is designed to intensify scents. All these differences mean that your puppy can detect scents you can’t.
You can capitalize on your puppy’s smelling superiority during housetraining. Just try to get your puppy to pee on a paper towel or old cloth, or simply wipe his bottom with the cloth after he’s tinkled. Then, save the cloth; you’ll need it for the next step.
Step 3: Pick a Potty Spot
Now you’re ready to choose the place where you want your puppy to do the doo. Find an area in your yard — or, if you don’t have a yard, a sidewalk median strip — close enough so you can whisk your puppy outdoors fast if he indicates a need to potty (Step 6 spotlights those signs and indications).
When you take your puppy to the designated bathroom, place the scent cloth you created in Step 2 atop the exact spot where you want him to do his business. Your puppy will probably sniff the cloth intently, then re-anoint it. Repeat this process whenever your pup needs to make a pit stop, and soon he’ll do the doo where you want.
Step 4: Make a Schedule
A schedule can accelerate your puppy’s progress through Housetraining 101. That’s because your little one is a creature of habit, and learns through repetition. If you take him to the potty spot to do his business at the same time each and every day, you will condition your puppy to go potty at the times you want.
However, count on taking lots of trips to the outdoor potty, at least at first. A puppy just can’t hold it for very long. If your dog is younger than 3 months old, he needs a bathroom break as often as every hour or two, and also once or twice during the night. As your puppy matures, though, he will need fewer pit stops. In any case, you should take your puppy to the potty whenever he wakes up from a nap, after energetic play and after meals.
Step 5: Cast an Eagle Eye
Whenever your puppy is not in his crate, you need to watch him carefully. Your puppy can get into mischief if you don’t supervise and will have a bathroom boo-boo if you’re not there to prevent it.
When it comes to housetraining, prevention is key. If you can forestall bathroom boo-boos before they happen, your puppy will learn potty protocol more quickly than if you allow him to consider your entire home his own personal outhouse.
In order to prevent bathroom mistakes, you must learn to recognize the obvious gestures that signal your puppy is about to go. Those signs include sudden restlessness, intense sniffing in one area, circling, pacing, or suddenly standing still.
If you catch your puppy in the act, distract him: clap your hands or say “No!” Then, pick your puppy up and whisk him outside to the potty spot.
Step 6: Expect to Mess Up
No matter how diligent you are, your puppy will have an accident. You’ll turn your back for a second, and a puddle will materialize at your feet or a deposit will appear at the other end of the room.
When these events occur, though, don’t scold your puppy. Your puppy didn’t mess up; you did. Put your puppy in his crate, then clean up. But don’t use just any cleaner to do the job. Instead, employ an enzymatic product manufactured especially for dealing with canine bathroom mishaps. These products remove the sight and the scent of puppy potty indiscretions. If any trace of your dog’s bathroom mistake lingers, he’s likely to go back to that place and perform an encore.
Step 7: Know When You’re Done
Your puppy may be the smartest dog you’ve ever encountered, but it may still take a while to master the art of basic bathroom manners. And until he does, you need to keep up the housetraining routine.
How do you know when your puppy is a housetraining ace? Most puppies younger than 6 months of age don’t qualify, nor do those who have an accident every few days or so. Consider your puppy fully housetrained only when he turns 6 months of age and has not had an accident for at least a month.