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House Breaking Your Puppy

by Judy Bohnert

Health Is Of Utmost Importance
Your puppy’s state of health will affect his ability to be successfully house trained. Make sure your puppy is seen by a veterinarian within 48 hours of arriving at your home. If your puppy does not receive a clean bill of health, it is important that any physical conditions that can impede successful house training be properly treated. A fecal check will determine whether worms or internal parasites are present.
Diet Is Important
Feeding a consistent diet of a high-quality premium brand dry puppy food is recommended. Avoid feeding your puppy table scraps or changing brands unnecessarily. If you should need to change your puppy’s food for any reason, do it gradually over a period of 4-to-7 days, preferably by overlapping both the old and the new puppy food together until the old food is phased out completely. [Note: Feeding your puppy lots of canned dog food can loosen his stool, making housebreaking more difficult].
Close Supervision Is Essential
Close supervision is essential any time your puppy is not crated indoors or confined to a small area covered with newspapers. It only takes a few seconds for your puppy to have a house-soiling accident, so watch for signs that your puppy may need to eliminate, such as sniffing the floor, circling, or running out of sight suddenly.
Confinement When Supervision Not Possible
Crate training or area confinement are recommended for puppies and most adolescent dogs when left unsupervised alone in the house. If properly introduced and used appropriately, crate training is an efficient and humane way to prevent house training accidents as well to keep your puppy safe when you can not watch him. The crate should not be used for excessive periods of time and should not be used as a punishment. Brief “time outs” in the crate, though, are fine.
Determine Puppy’s Safety Zone, Grey Zone & Danger Zone
Keep a diary of your puppy’s urinating and defecating times for several days or more. Determine the minimum interval between elimination. Subtract 15-30 minutes from this period of time and that will be your puppy’s temporary “Safety Zone.” This is the duration of time he can generally be trusted to hold his urine after he is taken for a walk or has “gone” outdoors, provided he does not drink a ton of water during this time. Make sure however, that he is still closely supervised any time he is not confined to his crate or confinement area.
Frequent Access To Backyard Or Taken For A Walk
Puppies need to urinate shortly after they eat, drink water, play, chew, or sleep. For most puppies over 10 weeks of age, that means somewhere between 5 and 10 times a day! Adolescent dogs (from 6 to 11 months old) will need 4 to 6 outings a day. Adult dogs need 3 to 4 outings a day, and elderly dogs need at least 3 to 4 outings daily (incontinent dogs will need more).
Do Not Return Indoors Or From A Walk Until Your Puppy Eliminates
If your puppy has been confined overnight to a crate, take him outside first thing in the morning before there’s a chance to soil indoors. Be prepared to stay outdoors with him until he eliminates. This could take from a few minutes to as much as several hours! As soon as your puppy eliminates outdoors offer lavish praise and a treat. If you take your puppy back inside the house before he’s fully eliminated he will surely have an house soiling accident indoors! If you absolutely have to return indoors before your puppy does his “business,” crate him, then try taking him outside again every 15-30 minutes until he “goes”.
Praise and Reward Your Puppy For “Going” Outdoors
Lavish praise, a trigger word –potty, get busy, business, bombs away — and a treat reward immediately following his eliminating in the right place will help you to communicate to your puppy that you are pleased with his behavior. Delayed praise is not effective, so witnessing him going in the right spot is important.
No Access To Inappropriate Areas To Eliminate
Many puppies and dogs prefer certain areas or surfaces to eliminate on, such as rugs. Keep your puppy away from risky areas or surfaces whenever possible. If your puppy suddenly runs out of sight it may be to look for a secret spot to eliminate, so close doors to rooms where he may sneak a quick pee or poop.
Neutralize Urine Odors With Enzyme-Based Deodorizer
Should your puppy have a few house-soiling accidents despite your best efforts to prevent them, neutralize any soiled areas (carpet or floor surface) with an pet odor neutralizer such as Nature’s Miracle, Nilodor, Fresh ‘n’ Clean, or Outright Pet Odor Eliminator. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners to clean up after your puppy’s urine as ammonia breaks down to urea which is a component of urine.
No Water After 9 PM
It is best to take away your puppy’s water bowl after 9 PM unless he seems very thirsty or weather conditions are exceedingly hot. A couple of ice cubes are OK.
Diarrhea Will Prevent Housetraining Success
Your puppy or dog cannot be expected to be reliable if he has diarrhea. Loose, liquidy or mucousy stools will hinder any house training success.
After-The-Fact Discipline Does NOT Work!
Never ever discipline (verbally or otherwise) your puppy or dog after-the-fact for house soiling accidents that you did not actually witness. If he does have an accident, roll up a newspaper and hit yourself over the head three times for not keeping a closer eye on him.  And, if you should see your puppy eliminate on the floor or carpet, harsh physical punishment is never recommended.
Never Discipline A Dog For Submissive Urination!
Submissive and excitement urination are completely involuntary so never discipline your puppy for this. Eye contact, verbal scolding, hovering over, rea
ching out to pet your puppy’s head, animated movements, talking in an exciting or loud voice, as well as strangers/visitors approaching your puppy, may all potentially trigger your puppy to piddle. Disciplining your puppy for involuntary piddling must be avoided or the problem will simply get worse.