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Housetraining Basics

The 2 most important concepts in housetraining your new puppy are consistency and positive reinforcement. Below are some simple guidelines on how to housebreak your puppy.

  • When you are not available to one hundred percent watch your puppy, he or she should be confined to a crate.
  • Your puppy should be brought outside on a leash every hour. When your puppy urinates or defecates in an appropriate area, he or she should be rewarded immediately and praised profusely.
  • If your puppy does not go to the bathroom, he should go back in the crate for another 20 minutes and then try again.

Every accident a puppy has in the house is a step backwards in the housetraining process. If you find an accident after the fact, it is a lost opportunity. You must either reward or reprimand your puppy between 3 and 5 seconds of a behavior. After this time, your puppy has no clue what you are yelling (or excited) about.

One common mistake that puppy owners make is letting their dog outside and then giving them a treat when they come in the house. This is rewarding the puppy for coming inside, not for going to the bathroom. This will lead to a dog that rushes to come in without going to the bathroom because he or she wants a treat.

In a nutshell, your new puppy must not be allowed the opportunity to make a mistake and doing the right thing should be rewarded every time. At the beginning, this is a time intensive and exhausting process, but puppies will do what works for them (this includes urinating in the house if they are not caught in the act!)

If you do catch your puppy in the act of having an accident, interrupt him or her with a loud “NO! OUTSIDE!” and bring the puppy immediately outside, then reward the puppy when his or her business is finished in the appropriate area (regardless of how frustrated you may be at the time)