Supervise your puppy
Don’t give your puppy an opportunity to soil in the house; keep an eye on them whenever they’re indoors.
Tether your puppy to you or a nearby piece of furniture with a six-foot leash if you are not actively training or playing. Watch for signs that your puppy needs to go out. Some signs are obvious, such as barking or scratching at the door, squatting, restlessness, sniffing around or circling. When you see these signs, immediately grab the leash and take them outside to their bathroom spot. If they eliminate, praise them and reward with a treat.
Keep your puppy on leash in the yard. During the house training process, your yard should be treated like any other room in your house. Give your puppy some freedom in the house and yard only after they become reliably house trained.
When you can’t supervise, confine
When you’re unable to watch your puppy at all times, restrict them to an area small enough that they won’t want to eliminate there.
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- The space should be big enough to comfortably stand, lie down and turn around. You can use a portion of a bathroom or laundry room blocked off with baby gates.
- Or you may want to crate train your puppy. (Be sure to learn how to use a crate humanely as a method of confinement.) If your puppy has spent several hours in confinement, you’ll need to take them directly to their bathroom spot as soon as you return.
Expect your puppy to have a few accidents in the house—it’s a normal part of house training. Here’s what to do when that happens:
- Without a lot of drama, immediately take them to their outside bathroom spot. Praise your pup and give a treat if they finish there.
- Don’t punish your puppy for eliminating in the house. If you find a soiled area, just clean it up. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in it, taking them to the spot and scolding them or any other punishment will only make them afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Punishment will do more harm than good.
- Clean the soiled area thoroughly. Puppies are highly motivated to continue soiling in areas that smell like urine or feces.
It’s extremely important that you use these supervision and confinement procedures to minimize the number of accidents. If you allow your puppy to eliminate frequently in the house, they’ll get confused about where they’re supposed to go, which will prolong the house training process.
Make plans for when you’re away
If you have to be away from home more than four or five hours a day, this may not be the best time for you to get a puppy. Instead, you may want to consider an older house-trained dog who can wait for your return. If you already have a puppy and must be away for long periods of time, you may need to:
- Arrange for someone, such as a responsible neighbor or a professional pet sitter, to take them for bathroom breaks.
- Alternatively, train them to eliminate in a specific place indoors. Be aware, however, that doing this can prolong the process of house training. Teaching your puppy to eliminate on newspaper may create a life-long surface preference, meaning that even as an adult they may eliminate on any newspaper lying around the living room.
- If you plan to paper-train, confine them to an area with enough room for a sleeping space, a playing space and a separate place to eliminate. In the designated elimination area, use either pet pee pads, newspapers (cover the area with several layers of newspaper) or a sod box. To make a sod box, place sod in a container such as a child’s small, plastic swimming pool. You can also find dog litter products at a pet supply store.
- If you have to clean up an accident outside the designated elimination area, put the soiled rags or paper towels inside that area afterward to help your puppy recognize the scented area as the place where they are supposed to eliminate.