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House Training 101: Tips and Tricks for a Mess-Free Home with Your New Puppy

You brought home your new puppy and quickly discovered they are a peeing and pooping machine. House training a puppy can seem like a daunting task. It can feel frustrating at times. I mean, who wants to clean pee and poop? No one! But I’m here to tell you that it’s totally doable—and in less time than you might think. By following my tips and tricks, you’ll have your puppy house trained in no time flat.

Let’s address one important thing before we get started… you ARE going to miss times your puppy has to go out to potty and there will be accidents. It’s going to happen (and yes, even us trainers blow it and must sop up pee and pick up poop) so don’t beat yourself up. Your puppy is just a baby and hasn’t been on this earth very long.

Older puppies may struggle with house training, too. If your puppy has come from a shelter, they have only learned to potty inside, when they have the urge. If your puppy has come from a rescue, they may have had some house training, but aren’t fully house trained yet. In addition, they will need to learn where to go in an entirely new place. There will be an adjustment period.

Key Points of House Training:

Cartoon of a dog with a speech bubble that says,
©Kelly Fahey
  1. Frequent Bathroom Breaks:
    • Puppies have small bladders and need to relieve themselves frequently.
    • Take your puppy out every 45 minutes to 1 hour, especially if they are young.
    • Consistent bathroom breaks can help prevent accidents inside the house.
    • Increase the frequency as you learn your puppy’s potty habits and they gain more bladder control.
  2. Establish a Routine:
    • Set a regular feeding schedule for your puppy.
    • Take them out for bathroom breaks at consistent intervals throughout the day.
    • Use the same door every time to create a routine and help them associate it with going outside.
    • Keep a log to help learn your puppy’s potty habits.
  3. Positive Reinforcement:
    • Praise your puppy enthusiastically whenever they go potty outside.
    • Follow the praise with a high-value treat as a reward.
    • Positive reinforcement helps your puppy understand the desired behavior and encourages them to repeat it.
  4. Be Patient and Consistent:
    • House training takes time, so be patient with your puppy.
    • Consistency is key to their learning process.
    • Avoid punishing your puppy for accidents, as it can lead to further challenges in house training.
  5. Use Enzymatic Cleaners:
    • Accidents happen, but it’s important to clean them thoroughly.
    • Enzymatic cleaners like Wee Away™ are effective in removing stains and odors.
    • Bonus! Wee Away™ can also double as a stain remover for clothes (ask me how I know!).

The Importance of Avoiding Punishment for Accidents:

While house training can feel frustrating and challenging, it’s crucial to understand that accidents are not your puppy’s fault. Punishing them for having an accident can actually hinder their progress and create additional house training challenges. Here’s why you should avoid punishment when it comes to accidents:

  1. Understanding the Cause:
    • Puppies have limited control over their bladder and bowel movements, especially when they are young.
    • They may not yet have developed the necessary muscle control to hold it in or may not recognize the signs of needing to go outside.
    • Punishing them for something they can’t control or don’t understand can create confusion and anxiety.
  2. Negative Associations:
    • Punishment can lead to fear. Not guilt.
    • This fear can lead to anxiety, which can further complicate the house training process. Your puppy might start sneaking off to potty out of your sight since going potty in front of you results in getting in trouble.
    • It’s important to create a positive and encouraging environment for your puppy to learn and grow.
  3. Building Trust and Bond:
    • Punishment can erode the trust and bond between you and your puppy.
    • Your puppy looks to you for guidance and support, and punishment can undermine their trust in you.
    • By focusing on positive reinforcement and gentle guidance, you can strengthen your relationship and create a safe space for learning. House training is one of the first interactions you have with your puppy. Make it a positive one!
  4. Alternative Approaches:
    • Instead of punishment, focus on prevention and supervision.
    • Keep a close eye on your puppy’s behavior and take them out frequently to prevent accidents.
    • If an accident does happen, gently interrupt and redirect them outside to finish.
    • Clean up accidents thoroughly with enzymatic cleaners to eliminate odors that may attract them to the same spot again.
    • Insight: These “accidents” aren’t the fault of our puppies.

Each and every “accident” is the fault of the human. It means we missed the opportunity to get our puppy outside. That’s on us, not them. Puppies will potty in the house during the house training process. It’s inevitable. Everyone has to clean up pee and poop… even dog trainers. None of us are perfect and we are bound to get it wrong. It’s not our puppy’s burden to bear.

House training a puppy may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can be a smooth and successful process. Remember, house training is a learning process for both you and your puppy. Patience and consistency are key to successful training. Take your puppy out frequently, establish a routine, praise them for going outside, and be patient and consistent throughout. Don’t forget to use reliable enzymatic cleaners like Wee Away™ to tackle any accidents along the way. Before you know it, you’ll have a fully trained puppy and a mess-free home to enjoy!

About the Author

A stocky brown dog reaching up to kiss article author Kelley Fahey.

Kelly Fahey is the owner of PupScouts of Hunterdon. She is a puppy specialist and a Certified SA Pro Separation Anxiety Specialist. Kelly specializes in helping puppy parents navigate through the excitement and chaos of puppyhood and serves clients all over the country. Her family has raised 24 Seeing Eye puppies in addition to fostering puppies, and raising her own, personal puppies. Kelly’s vast puppy experience has helped her create a unique program for her clients to help turn the chaos to calm. In addition to helping clients with their puppy journey, Kelly enjoys assisting clients with overcoming the guilt, stress, and overwhelm of having a dog with separation anxiety and providing a plan so their dogs can be relaxed and calms while they are gone. You can reach Kelly through her website.

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