Housebreaking Your Puppy

The most important thing you need to remember to successfully housebreak a puppy is "CATCH HIM IN THE ACT" and you need to catch him every time.  How are you going to accomplish this?  You need to keep him in a crate when you are unable to supervise him and confine him to the room you are in whenever you are able to watch him.  If you see him start to eliminate, try to startle him.  Rush at him, clap your hands, yell "no, no, no!", or shake coins in a can.  If you really make an impression, he may stop eliminating immediately.  Then, calmly carry him outside and wait for him to use the appropriate place.  When he does, an immediate reward is needed.  Enthusiastic praise is best, with an occasional food reward.  Do not give a food reward every time or your puppy may ask to go out very frequently.

The best times to take your puppy out include immediately upon awakening, shortly after feeding, as soon as you take him out of the crate, and after any prolonged play period.  Of course, you'll want to take him out just before you go to bed to help him make it through the night.  Take him to the designated spot and use a key phrase such as "go potty" while your pet eliminates.  Eventually he will learn that this phrase means that it's the right time to eliminate.  After he goes, always praise him generously.

Some people may feel that keeping the puppy in a crate is unfair to the dog.  For most dogs, the opposite is true.  Many dogs feel very secure in a crate.  They think of it like a wolf might think of his den.  Everyone appreciates a place of his own!  Make this area comfortable for your dog.  Put in a piece of clothing that smells like you.  Add some toys.  Give your puppy a special treat every time you put him in the crate, such as a little piece of cheese.  Make it a friendly place for him. Never use the crate as a form of punishment.   It is very important that the crate not be too large when you are housebreaking.  The puppy may not consider the whole area to be his home and may eliminate on one side and sleep on the other.  You will need to partition the crate if it is large enough to accommodate the puppy as an adult.  Once the pup is housebroken, let him have the extra space, but continue to use the crate when you are not home to keep the puppy safe.  This is usually necessary for at least one to two years, and for a lifetime for some dogs.

Most puppies can be successfully trained by 14 to 20 weeks of age.  The key is to be consistent and really put in an effort at the beginning.  Not taking the time to get this job done right can result in a pet that is more headache than happiness.  Put in the effort now and you will have a much more pleasant companion for years to come.