House-training your puppy

House training rarely presents a problem with puppies who have been reared under normal conditions. A puppy reared with its mother until 6 or 7 weeks of age will have learned to move away from his sleeping area to go to the toilet. Puppies instinctively want to be clean and very few puppies will soil their sleeping area if given the choice.

A young puppy needs to urinate and defecate frequently because he has a very small bladder and bowel. This gives you as a puppy owner plenty of opportunity to praise your puppy for performing in the right area, allowing him to learn quickly. Do not punish your puppy for doing wrong. It is your responsibility to ensure that you take your puppy to the chosen toilet area as frequently as he needs to go, generally as soon as he wakes up, after every meal and at hourly intervals. Take your puppy outside. Wait with him until he performs. Then praise him by giving him a snack or playing with him. While he is learning, it is essential that you wait with him, so that you can praise him at the correct time.

Establish only one area to be used as the "toilet area." Place food and water bowls near the door used to reach the toilet area. Feed your dog on a regular schedule. Agree on a method that all family members will use consistently. Take your dog to its toilet area on a frequent and regular basis. A puppy's need to urinate and defecate is frequently stimulated after eating, drinking or chewing, upon awakening and after play periods. During these periods, take your dog outside and urge it toward the toilet area. Stand next to it and praise it profusely when it eliminates on the spot. Most dogs learn their spot in a few days and will begin to go toward it. Once this behavior is learned, proceed with training your dog not to eliminate in the house. Keep your pet inside with you. Watch him carefully for signs that precede elimination (sniffing, circling, squatting). Distract him by immediately taking him to the toilet area. Praise him for eliminating there.

Young puppies will inevitably have accidents. It is important to ignore these, and clean them up well so that the smell does not linger. This may encourage him to repeat the performance on the same spot. Do not scold your dog for mistakes, but rather reward him when he is correct, and he will soon want to go outside.

When you discover an accident, you can show disapproval if the dog notices it, too. Exhibit disapproval by speaking in a stern, deep voice and shooing the dog out to the toilet area. Clean up the mess in the dog's absence and place it in the toilet area. Confining a dog to a run or fenced yard is not an effective method of housetraining.
Your presence and praise immediately following elimination is essential. Punishment (rubbing your dog's nose in the mess or swatting with newspapers) is negatively reinforcing and usually ineffective. It is better to make your expectations clear and reward desired behavior. Training to newspaper is not recommended unless you plan to establish paper as a permanent toilet area. Some people choose to do this with toy breeds.

A dog suffering from diarrhea can't control bowel movements and will probably have accidents in the house. If you've adopted an adult dog who has been house trained, he may still need some refresher training. Expect a few mistakes in the first few days. Offer the same consistent training as you would with a puppy.

To avoid nighttime accidents, it's recommended to have your dog sleep in a crate until house-training has been completed. If you must leave a pet alone who isn't reliably house-trained, confine him to a crate or a part of the house where accidents can be easily cleaned up. Be sure to provide a comfortable place to rest if he doesn't have access to his sleeping area.

In some cases, it is possible to train your dog to urinate and defecate on command. As he performs, add the words that you choose such as "be quick" or "busy." Your dog will then build up an association of the word with the action. Only say the words as he is actually performing. Toileting on command is very useful since dog owners have a duty to prevent their dogs from going indiscriminately. Teaching your dog to go in your yard before you leave your home can help to prevent accidents in parks or on sidewalks. Also, always ensure that you carry a pooper-scooper or baggie so that if your dog does defecate in a public place, you can clean up.

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