How to Humanely House Break a Puppy

by Cathleen Anderson
    Housetraining requires consistency, patience and clear expectations.

    Housetraining requires consistency, patience and clear expectations.

    Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    Few things are more challenging than teaching your new puppy where to potty. Above all, housebreaking requires consistency. Remember, your puppy is like a child learning a new skill. Keep in mind that she doesn't have the capacity yet to hold her bladder for long periods. She wants to please you, so heap praise on her whenever she gets it right. Never punish or misuse your puppy or she will learn to fear you, and in any case punishment does not work when house training. Timing is key to success, so be vigilant of her elimination schedule and body language and stay calm while she is learning.

    Step 1

    Tie a bell to a long string and hang it from the doorknob of the exit you will use to take your puppy outdoors. Each time you are ready to go outside give the bell a tap with the puppy's paw. She will learn to associate the jingle with going out to do her business. With a little practice she will learn to hit or shake the bell to let you know she has to go out.

    Step 2

    Choose an outside location for your puppy. Once she has used the spot she will be attracted back by the odor and grow accustomed to seeking the same location. Create a schedule for taking your puppy outside and stick with it. A young puppy should go out immediately upon waking up, both in the morning and after naps. Schedule a trip right after eating, exercising, and prior to bedtime.

    Step 3

    Think of a word or phrase as a signal for what you want her to do. Use her name in connection with the word or phrase, for example, "Daisy, go potty." Say the key words every time you take her to the location and she will learn to associate the phrase with the expectation.

    Step 4

    Praise your puppy lavishly when she goes in the proper place. Be sure to praise her immediately so she will connect it with the act and learn that her behavior has pleased you. Give her a treat every time she completes her task appropriately.

    Step 5

    Expect your puppy to make a few mistakes. House-training takes time. Scold her only if you catch her in the act and don't overdo the scolding. Use a firm "No!" and then take her to the desired location. If she continues to go, praise her enthusiastically.

    Items You Will Need

    • Bell
    • Heavy string (or strip of cloth)
    • Dog treats

    Tips

    • Clean up any "accidents" right away so the puppy won't be attracted to the same spot by the odor; don't let her see you clean up the mess, though.
    • Expect a few mistakes during the process. Your puppy is learning a brand new skill.
    • An eight-week-old puppy will need to urinate every one to three hours.
    • Puppies generally do not have full control of bladder and bowel until at least 16 weeks of age.
    • Use a baby gate to keep your puppy in an easy-to-clean area and away from carpets until she is fully trained.
    • Remove the water bowl two hours before bedtime to lessen the need to go out during the night. Don't forget to refill it in the morning.

    Warnings

    • Never rub your puppy's nose in her waste. This act is cruel and counterproductive.
    • Never hit your puppy with your hand or anything else. Positive reinforcement produces the desired behavior, whereas punishment breeds fear.

    Photo Credits

    • Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Residing in upstate New York, Cathleen Anderson is a vegetarian freelancer who has been writing since 1994. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from State University of New York, Potsdam and a master's degree in counseling from SUNY, Oswego. Anderson is a licensed, nationally certified counselor who works in an emergency department focusing on the mental and physical health of her patients.

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