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So you’ve adopted a puppy – congratulations!  Your life will never be the same and your days will be filled with unconditional love and companionship.  But (insert the sound of the needle being taken off the record), don’t expect things to be all roses when it comes to housetraining.  That will require time, patience and big commitment on your part.

Give him a break - he is learning!

As a former puppy, I am here to give you a few tips that helped me.  So here goes:

  • Establish a Routine.
    Puppies do best on a regular schedule.  Feed your puppy the same time every day and take your puppy outside at least every two hours, after he wakes up, after playing and after eating.
  • Location, Location, Location.
    Choose a place for your puppy to go.  Make sure it isn’t too far from the door and walk him on a leash to the spot.  If (I mean, when) your puppy has an accident in the house, put the soiled rags in the bathroom spot.  The smell will help your puppy recognize this is the place he is supposed to go.
  • Watch Closely.
    Supervise your puppy at all times and don’t give him an opportunity to potty in the house.  Tether him to you with a leash or use baby gates to keep him in the same room as you.  Watch for signs that he needs to go like sniffing or circling.  When you see the signs, take him out to his bathroom spot.  If he goes, give him lots of praise.  A little doggy treat would be nice too.
  • A Crate is a Necessity.
    I’ll talk more about crates a later time but for now, you must have a crate!  Keeping your puppy confined is so important.  The crate should be big enough for him to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around.  If it is any bigger, he will most definitely go potty in there.
  • Have Realistic Expectations.
    Expect your puppy to have an accident.  It’s just going to happen.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your dog will be fully housetrained on the first day.  But also expect that you and your puppy WILL master housetraining in time.

It is important to note that we canines do not understand punishment.  If we have an accident, doing things like hitting us, yelling at us and rubbing our noses in our mess won’t help.  They will only make things worse.  If you can catch your puppy in the act of going, interrupt him with a loud noise but don’t scare him.  Then take him outside.  If you find a soiled area, clean it up.  That is all. 

Like I mentioned, it takes a lot of time and patience to housetrain a puppy.  If you have questions or concerns, call my friends at the APA and they can give you more tips.  If you suspect a medical problem, contact your veterinarian right away.

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