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Your dog is your best friend. He greets you with joy upon your return home, keeps at your side when you feel blue, comforts you when you’re sick, and alerts you when there are strangers near. He does all of this, yet he asks for nothing in return except for meals, loving attention, and for you to keep him healthy and clean.
Mother Nature has instilled these loving, relational characteristics in a dog, along with a string of strong, primal survival instincts. Before dogs were domesticated as pets, canines created dens as their homes. This behavior is still observable in wild canines such as foxes, wolves and hyenas. To protect their dens, wild dogs mark their territory by urinating around its parameter. This scent is to warn any intrepid intruder that the den is owned and inhabited. All of this is part of a dogs’ DNA. Since your home does not resemble a hole in the ground, nor would you want it to look or smell like one, it is important to know how to house train a puppy.
Denning and marking territory is so instinctive to dogs that you often find them resting under your dining table or writing desk, really anywhere they can fit, and then habitually urinating on the same spot in your home. Fret not! There’s a great way to use what Mother Nature gave dogs to your advantage when you’re house training. The best time to do this is when they’re young. Let’s talk about some frequently asked questions about puppy house training.
How Long Does It Take to House Train a Puppy?
It can take a dog four to six months to be fully house trained (APDT shows keys to succesfull house training). It does seem like a long while, so patience and consistency are your allies. There are various factors to consider when house training. For example, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and faster metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside.
Your pup’s previous habits come into play, too. Dogs are creatures of habit, so whatever they learned from the animal welfare center or the pet store will be brought back to your home. The good thing is, with positive reinforcement, your puppy can quickly unlearn bad habits and learn better ones.
Positive reinforcement simply means taking your puppy outside at the first sign that he needs to go. Some signs include whining, barking, circling and scratching the floor. Designate a spot outside where he can do his business with you close by. Then reward him for his success. Do this as a matter of routine and he’ll carry these habits into his adulthood.
What Is the Best Way to House Train a Puppy?
With high hopes and low expectations! There will be accidents and setbacks depending on a variety of factors, including your puppy’s health, but if you can remain consistent with the following steps and return to them when you can, plus heap rewards upon your pet for every successful attempt, then the journey can be a pleasant experience for both of you.
- Begin when he is young. The best time to start is when he is twelve weeks old. At around that time, he will have just enough bladder and bowel control to hold it for a minute while you take him outside.
- If your puppy has been living in a pet store cage past the age of twelve weeks, and before you took him home, there’s a huge chance that he has learned to soil his den, a behavior that is unnatural to wild dogs, and to eat his waste. If you are able to pay close attention to your puppy and take him out as soon as you see signs that he needs to go, then you can reinforce healthier, more natural habits for him. Natural instincts will kick in, too, so long as you remain consistent.
- Have a regular schedule for feeding. Within twenty minutes of feeding, a puppy will need to relieve himself; so take him out to his potty spot.
- Do not leave any food on his dish in between feeding schedules. The reason behind this is you might not know when he’s chowing behind your back, and you might be unavailable to take him out when he needs to go.
- A potty spot should be a familiar place to him. It could be a corner in your lawn. Take him to this same spot every time so he associates it with urinating and Also, the scent left by his waste will trigger him to re-mark the spot.
- Throughout this period of house training, make sure that you are with him and close by. Puppies need den leaders, and they will look to you as such. They will need your approval before and after they visit their potty spot.
- Bring your puppy outside as soon as he wakes up in the morning or after a nap. Note the time, and take him out again every hour to see how often he needs to go.
- The potty spot should also be the last thing he does before going to sleep at night. Some experts advise keeping your puppy from drinking water an hour before bedtime.
- Always, always, give praise to your dog with every successful attempt. Reward him with a treat or a walk around the block or
- Use gentle commands like, “Go, potty,” whenever you bring him out to his spot. A stern, harsh voice works against you, so make sure you don’t send stress signals or bad vibes to your puppy (read more at Puppy Training: When, How to’s, Tips and Tricks).
How About Potty Training a Puppy in an Apartment?
If you live in a small apartment that does not have a front lawn, you can avail yourself with the following options.
You may purchase a crate for your pet. A crate becomes his den within your home. Dogs never soil their dens and want to keep them clean, so keeping them in one will prevent accidents. It also helps to keep a constant watch on him.For more information, read Crate training a puppy.
It is also a great idea to partition a section of your apartment for your puppy. Using baby barriers or accordions, you can secure this area as your pup’s own. Toss in his food and water dish, and his favorite toys, and he’ll be very happy.
Indoor puppy potty trainer mats are available in most pet stores. These are synthetic grass mats spread over durable plastic trays. You can place one inside your bathroom to take your pet to whenever you need to go. Your puppy will naturally mark this spot with his urine or waste. What you need to do is simply drop or drain the waste into your toilet and wash the mat. These puppy potty trainer mats are easy to clean with soap and warm water.
Any Tips and Tricks to Avoid Accidents?
First, know that accidents will happen. When they do, do not judge yourself as a bad pet owner, or your pup as a bad dog. This is a learning process for the both of you.
Do not yell “No!” or give other harsh admonitions
For the first two months of house training, you may want to keep your puppy on a leash so that he goes with you wherever you are at home. That way, you are always around to notice his behavior when he needs to go.
Wash accident spots immediately with soap and water. Purchase an enzymatic cleanser from your pet store. These cleansers remove all traces of your puppy’s scent mark, and do not contain ammonia that might trigger another accident.
When you catch your puppy in the act, make a loud noise by clapping your hands together. Do not yell “No!” or give other harsh admonitions. If you do, your puppy might fear your voice. You want him to associate your voice with a loving den leader. By clapping your hands, he will be alerted that he has done something wrong. Then simply take him to his potty spot, give a gentle command, “Go,” and then reward him for his good work.
There are incidents when you see the accident after the act. During these times, do not scold or berate your pet. Dogs are always in the moment. Your puppy does not have the sophistication to associate something he did in the past with the scolding at the moment. Simply note where you might have deviated from the management plan, clean up the mess, and get back on track.
Stay a few moments longer at the potty spot after he has done his business. If your puppy wants to play and run around, do so, but make sure to bring him back to the potty spot first before you both go back inside.
Finally, your dog’s habits are the best indicators for his health. When you have been on this house training program consistently, and begin to notice frequent accidents, it may be that your puppy has swallowed something toxic, or has a worm. Take him to the vet as soon as possible.