Dogs are lovely creatures but having one that soils your carpets and eliminates in other precious areas of your living room can be quite aggravating. Therefore, housetraining your pup is critical to having a great experience as a pet owner. Since you may NOT have a clue as to how to do it right, we’ll share some great tips with you to make the process easier and fruitful…
Understand a few basic things
Before you start house training a dog, you need to understand a few things. If you don’t you’ll frustrate both yourself and your dog. Take note of the following…
Don’t start house training your pup until he/she is at least 12 weeks old.
Your pup MUST be at least 12 weeks old before you start housetraining. This is because it takes puppies between 12 and 16 weeks to develop full control over their bowel movements and bladder. To be on the safe side, wait till your pup is 16 weeks old. This will save you the frustration of trying to teach him/her what he/she hasn’t yet developed the capacity to learn.
Some folks might have brought home puppies that are already above 12 weeks old and have already developed some bad habits like eating his waste or doing his business in the crate. In such a situation, do note that you might have to housetrain for much longer than it takes the average dog.
You need patience if you want to housetrain effectively. Understand that your pup wants to please you more than anything else. However, it would take some time for him/her to understand what you actually want and mean by your commands and gestures.
Furthermore, just as each individual is different, so are dogs. While experts say it takes around four to six months for a puppy to be fully housetrained, it’s also good to bear in mind that some dogs might take as long as a whole year to become fully housetrained. So like we pointed out earlier, patience is crucial if you want to make a success of the entire process.
You need to confine your pup to a defined space
This defined space could be a particular distance on a leash, a room or a crate. The point here is that your pup is made to understand that he has to go outside whenever he needs to eliminate. For the defined space, you need to ensure the following…
- It gives your puppy enough room to stand, lie down and turn around. However, make sure the space isn’t large enough for him to carve out a bathroom space from it
- If you are using a crate and your pup is eliminating it, stop using it. The message you should get from this is one of the following: Your pup isn’t getting enough time outdoors, the crate is too large for it, it had picked up this bad habit before you got him or he might NOT have developed control over his bowel movements or bladder (probably because he is too young)
- Make sure you give him a break daily from the defined space at about the middle of the day within the first eight months of housetraining. For no reason should you keep your pup in a crate, for example, for more than six hours? Doing that might leave him with no alternative than relieving himself in the defined space.
- Make sure the defined space (when it’s not a crate) doesn’t have absorbent material on the floor. This is because dogs prefer doing their business on absorbent surfaces
You need a consistent command and “bathroom” area
What do you say to your pup when you want him to go and do his business? Consistency matters here. If you want to use the word “outside” then use it consistently and your pup will come to know it as his cue to go the bathroom. If you use different words each time, you’ll only confuse him.
Furthermore, it also helps if you can have a specific area where your pup eliminates. It will be easier for him to do his business when he senses odors that are his in an area.
Set a schedule and stick to it
You need to do a number of things at specific times everyday if you are to make a big success of housetraining your dog. Here are two you should pay close attention to…
- Do your best to always take him out to do his business first thing in the morning. It’s best if you stick to a specific time. Furthermore, experts advise that you take him out every 30 minutes thereafter or, at most, every hour thereafter
- Take him out after every meal and after he wakes up from a nap. And don’t forget to take him out as the last thing he does before retiring for the night
- His meals MUST be at specific times. Make sure you avoid meals in-between
While you puppy is doing his best to understand what you want from him, it’s also important that you understand what he’s telling you by his actions or body language. For example, if you dog is pacing, circling or sniffing then he’s probably telling you he want to use the bathroom.
What to do when accidents happen
What do you do when you catch your pup doing his business in the wrong place? First, don’t yell at him or hit him. Say something like “no” firmly (and be consistent with that command every time he makes such a mistake) and then ensure you take him to the right area to finish up. That way, he’ll make the connection that he didn’t do what you want.
If you see he’s messed up an area but didn’t catch him in the act, don’t reprimand him as he won’t be able to tell that it is connected to the mess he made in any way.
Don’t ever make the mistake of rubbing his nose (literarily) into the mess or hitting him. It will only make him fear you and that won’t help you on the long run.
In everything you do while training your dog, make sure you use positive reinforcement to show you want him to continue in a certain way. Show him affection when he gets it right and give him treats as encouragement. When he makes mistakes (that are inevitable, by the way), be patient enough to respond correctly. The reward you’ll get at the end of it all is a dog that’s properly housetrained and a great companion whom you’ll cherish for life.