Puppies are adorable and a welcome addition to any home with caring, responsible owners. One behavior that is NOT so adorable, however, is the inevitable “pee and poo” accidents on your floor before your pup is housebroken. It’s essential for puppies to learn that elimination just anywhere they choose inside the house is not acceptable to you.
Why Puppies Do It on Your Floor
If you’re a new puppy owner, the first question you might ask is WHY does your pup insist on doing his business on your floor instead of outside. It’s understandable for you to feel frustrated and discouraged, but remember the old adage: patience is a virtue . When it comes to housebreaking your pup, you must have a good dose of patience because the process is a training period for you AND your pup!
As a dog trainer and daughter of veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, Mikkel Becker urges patience and advises new puppy owners that without training, puppies don’t understand that it’s wrong to go on the floor and will choose any spot in the house that seems convenient.
Likewise, pet expert and author Gina Spadafori, who has co-authored books with Dr. Becker, stresses the importance of establishing a “potty schedule” and beginning training immediately so your pup begins learning right away what is acceptable and what is not in regard to elimination behavior.
Tips for Housebreaking Your Pup
Both Becker and Spadafori offered a variety of tips on how to most effectively housebreak your pup. Remember, you and your pup will both be going through this training process together. Patience and consistency on your part are keys to successful housebreaking for your pup.
- Restrict your pup’s space. Many vets and trainers recommend crate training unequivocally during the housebreaking process. If not a crate, than a restricted area enclosed by pet gates, or at your side clipped to a short leash. The reason for the confinement is that animals usually don’t take care of elimination in their sleeping or living space. When you can’t actively supervise your pup, then you need to keep him in a crate.
- Note your pup’s physical limitations. Remember that your pup has both limited storage capacity for, and limited control over, elimination functions. A general guideline is age = hours. In other words, if your pup is only six months old, then six hours is at the outside range of how long he can hold it before needing to take care of business.
- Establish and follow the 15-minute rule. Keep track of 15-minute increments after certain activities your pup engages in, such as eating or drinking, playing, or sleeping. After that time, your pup will likely need to take care of elimination needs.
- Remember, your pup’s body functions like yours does. Likewise, remember that when it comes to the urge to eliminate, your pup’s body functions much like yours does. We all normally have to relieve ourselves soon after we wake up and after meals – so do our puppies.
- Prepare for accidents. They are inevitable, especially in the early stages of training. Keep cleaning products on hand, such as Pawsitively Clean Stain and Odor Eliminator, with enzymes that break down both the stain and the smell. White vinegar is also effective, but avoid ammonia, since that just smells like urine to your pup.
- Clean up from accidents thoroughly. After taking care of your pup’s needs (moving him to a training pad or outside to reinforce the proper place for elimination), clean up the mess thoroughly. Even if you can’t see or smell any traces of an accident, your pup can, and it will encourage him to return to that spot again instead of using a pad or going outside.
- Enlarge your pup’s space gradually. As your pup becomes consistently accident-free for a week or more, open up more space and time out of the crate. Continue this process to allow more freedom the longer your pup remains accident-free; however, if accidents start again, reverse the process.
- Schedule nighttime outings. Yes, you may need to set your alarm and schedule nighttime outings every three to four hours or so, depending on your pup’s elimination needs, especially if you don’t use a crate. If your pup has accidents in or out of a crate overnight, then you’ll need to make more frequent trips outside.
- Use puppy training pads. Another way to train your pup is through using products such as Wee Wee Puppy Housebreaking Pads. Many of these pads are treated with special scents to attract puppies and encourage elimination there instead of on your floors.Training pads can be extremely helpful either the whole time you are training or depending on the circumstances during the pup’s housebreaking time. For instance, during bad weather, such as frigid winter temperatures or snowstorms, or if you and your pup live in a building several floors up, training pads will help you continue the training process and decrease accidents on your floor.In addition, as your pup consistently seeks a training pad for elimination, you can gradually move the pad closer to the door, and eventually to a porch or landing, and then to the ground. In this way, you can introduce your pup to a new acceptable place for elimination, from the inside spot to the outside spot.
- Reward your pup’s good behavior, but don’t scold for accidents . You have probably heard that you’re supposed to rub your pup’s nose in any accident on the floor, but vets and trainers strongly advise against this for a couple reasons:First of all, if a pup has an accident, it usually means the owner wasn’t paying attention and the pup couldn’t hold it.Secondly, punishing or scolding your pup is threatening and confusing to him, and your pup may actually become fearful of the whole training process or elimination itself. Your pup also doesn’t understand the concept yet of the proper places to take care of business.
Instead, if you happen to catch your pup in the act, say “No” firmly and place your pup on a pad or go outside.
Always praise and reward your pup for proper elimination behavior. Provide pats on the head, verbal praise, and treats throughout the training process.
Repeat to Yourself: Be Patient and Consistent
It bears repeating: the keys to effective housebreaking for your pup are patience and consistency on your part. Remember, it’s really a training process for both of you, in different ways. You have to exercise the discipline and due diligence to supervise your pup, while your pup learns the proper way and place to take care of business. When it is done properly, it typically only takes a few weeks, and then you can spend more time enjoying your pup’s antics as your pup enjoys your company.
View more articles written by K’Lee Banks.