If you think your new puppy instantly knows not to soil the house when you bring him home, you're in for a big surprise. Just like potty-training a young child, potty-training a puppy is fraught with mistakes and accidents. When done incorrectly, potty-training can quickly turn into a lengthy task. Be patient, be consistent, and bring lots of treats.
Although every puppy is different and learns at his own pace, the average duration that it takes to housebreak your puppy really depends on you. If you treat the housebreaking process like a full-time job and are able to be with your puppy 24 hours a day, every day, you might be able to get housebreaking done within two weeks. If you're not as assertive and are preoccupied with some of life's other challenges, housebreaking can take several months.
Consistently supervising your puppy is essential to your success during the housebreaking process -- it's the only way you can prevent mistakes. Take your puppy to go potty at least every two hours, as well as each time you notice him circling, sniffing and getting restless. Also take him to go potty after he eats and drinks, after play time and after he wakes up. Develop a set schedule for all activities so both parties get used to the routine. As time goes along, you'll extend his intervals from two hours to three, then more, up to about eight. No dog should go longer than that without a potty break, and no dog should be confined to a crate other than training and rare occurrences.
Correctly handling accidents can expedite potty training. Instead of scolding and yelling at your pup, which generally will only make him fear you, accept that accidents are really your fault, because you neglected to watch him. For cleanup, use an enzymatic cleanser to eliminate the odor and to minimize the chance of your pup soiling the same area again. If you catch your puppy having an accident, clap your hands to startle and stop him. Then take him to the designated potty area to finish the business he started.
Rather than emphasizing the things your pet companion does wrong, focus on the things he does right. This increases your chance of successfully housebreaking him. Each time he goes potty in the designated area, even if you had to bring him there or stop him from making a mistake, immediately lavish him with praise and give him a treat. This will make him want to repeat the behavior in anticipation of the pleasant consequences.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.