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Housetraining Your Puppy

You don't want puppy poop all over the house, do you? Its time to potty train your pooch!

First things first

Housetraining should be viewed as part of your puppy's training. It will take time and patience as with any training exercise. Mistakes will happen but, over time, you should see improvements until your dog is fully housetrained. Don't expect it to happen overnight! Most pups will be fully trained in 7 to 14 days.

Very young pups have little control over their bladder. Excitement and anxiety can cause them to urinate right then and there! When they reach about 4-6 months, they should have enough control to be able to hold on for a short time until he reaches the correct place (outside!!). Many dogs can be fully trained younger than this.

Puppies begin learning traits in cleanliness from their mothers from a very young age. Before the pups can crawl, it is the mother that takes responsibility for keeping the nest clean. As soon as they begin crawling, instinct makes them move away from the nest in order to relieve themselves. This instinctive behaviour forms the basis of the housetraining technique.

General training tips

As soon as you bring your puppy home you'll have to be watching him at all times. Generally, you should take him outside to relieve himself:

  1. Every 1 or 2 hours;
  2. As soon as he wakes up;
  3. After playing;
  4. After feeding.

You should try to designate one area of your garden as the toilet area. Take your puppy to this area, and praise him when he urinates/deficates. Then remove him from that area. Try associating a word/s with the toilet area, such as 'toilet' or 'go wee' or 'time to go'. Once he associates relieving himself with that word, he'll catch on to what you want him to do each time you take him to the toilet area more quickly.

When your dog has an accident, it is important that you only correct him if you catch him in the act. This is the only way he will understand why he's being disciplined. After a few seconds of urinating/deficating, the puppy will no longer associate the discipline with that behaviour, so yelling on discovery of a pile of poop will accomplish nothing.

To correct witnessed accidents in the house, don't shout, hurt or intimidate your dog (this will just increase submissive behaviour and result in more accidents). Calmly walk over to the pup, pick him up, say 'No' firmly, and carry him out to the toilet area to finish his business. When he does so, praise him as usual, then take him back inside. Put him in a secure place while you clean up the mess out of sight.

To correct un-witnessed accidents (i.e. discovery of a puddle/poop pile), simply pick puppy up and take him to a secure area while you clear up the mess. Don't scold him at all. Then wait for the next toilet-time, and take him to the toilet area as usual. Make sure you praise him when he complies.

The newspaper method

You should designate a room in the house as the pup's room, this is where he should stay when you are out or unable to supervise him, where he should be fed, and where his bed is. Cover the floor with newspapers, thick enough to soak up puddles of urine. At first, you'll find that he plays with the paper, rips it up and scatters it everywhere. Just keep replenishing it. When the pup does go to the toilet, he will do so on the paper. Soon he will develop a habit of relieving himself on paper as its the only available place to go, and over time, start relieving himself in a particular area of the room. When he starts doing this, gradually remove paper from the areas furthest away from this chosen point. Soon, you'll only have to put down a few sheets at that point only. If he misses at all, you've removed too much paper - go back to papering a larger area. Once the pup is reliably relieving himself on this small area of paper, you can begin to move the paper very gradually to a location of your choice (towards the back door and into the garden usually). Move the papers very slowly, an inch or so a day. Again, if he misses, you're moving too fast, go back a few steps. You may have to return to phase one and paper the whole room again - this is normal, don't worry! Stick with it and your dog will soon be paper-trained.


It is very important when housetraining your dog to stick to a routine. Constantly monitor your pup when he is out of his pen. Remember to take him outside every 2 hours, when he wakes, after playing and after meals. If you feed the final meal in the early evening and withold fluids afterwards, you will reduce the number of times he'll need to go out during the night (yes you'll have to get up to maintain the routine!!).

Food and water: You should feed your pup two or three times a day, with 6 to 8 hours in between feeds. At feeding time, isolate your dog in his pen/designated room. This allows him to relax and eat, without being distracted or threatened. Leave the food and water down for 20-30 minutes and remove any leftovers after this time. Removing the food after a time limit encourages the dog to eat it all up in one go, supporting the idea of scheduled mealtimes. Scheduled meals lead to scheduled bowel movements. Don't make any changes to his diet for at least a week after bringing him home. Changes in environment are stressful, and added stress on the digestive system due to such a change will make accidents more likely.












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