House training a puppy can feel like a huge and daunting task at first but by using some simple methods and staying calm the whole process can be made a lot less stressful for you and your puppy. Any approach to toilet training should be carried out positively and without scaring the dog into obeying you. That said you will need to be patient, vigilant and strict in order to achieve good results.
As with most areas of dog care and training there are many methods, each with good and bad points and also those that are not very well thought out for the long term or can lead to other problems with your dog later even if they do work as a toilet training method. One example of this is the commonly used idea of training a puppy to go to the toilet on newspaper kept in one spot in the house. Although this can work well there can also be problems if the puppy will only go on newspaper as it sees that as the only acceptable place and also teaches dogs that it is acceptable to go to the toilet inside the house which may then be hard to stop. It is better and a shorter process overall to teach them that they should only go to the toilet outside from the start.
1) Always remain calm but assertive. Encourage your puppy and do not shout or use an aggressive tone.
2) Create a routine. Dogs are capable of learning when it is time to eat, sleep or go to the toilet from a young age. Make regular and routine trips to the spot you would like to be used for toileting and praise your puppy for any success, however small.
3) Chose one area and stick to that where possible to avoid confusion. Ideally this should be outside of the house. Allow your puppy lots of access to this area to minimise the chance of accidents elsewhere.
4) Using the same phrase or word every time your puppy successfully uses their toilet area can help them understand what is expected of them at later times.
5) Always use positive reinforcement rather than punishments. Praise and make a fuss of your puppy or give them a small treat when they are successful. This positive contact will encourage them to repeat the process in order to gain reward.
6) Avoid feeding your puppy late at night to minimise nighttime accidents. If they do wake up in the night do not make a lot of noise or fuss so that they learn that it is not the time to play. If your puppy really needs to be taken out to go to the toilet during the night, try not to talk to them too much and return them to bed straight afterwards.
7) Do not scare your puppy if they do have an accident indoors and never use physical punishments as this can lead to difficulties in training and behavioural problems later. Instead send or take them outside to their toilet spot. Praise or treat them as normal when they have finished there.
8) Always clean up any toilet accidents thoroughly. It is best to use a specifically designed cleaning product to ensure that no odour is left behind. If a puppy can smell that they used a spot for toileting previously they will be more likely to repeat the deed in the same spot.
9) When they are young do not expect your puppy to be reliable at telling you when they need to go out. Even once they know where their toilet spot is they will need time to be fully successful at getting there in time every time.
10) Remember that a puppy is just a baby and will make mistakes as they learn. They do not mean to annoy or disobey you deliberately.
11) Pay attention to your puppy so that you easily notice signs that it may need to go to the toilet. If the puppy is sniffing around or goes to squat take it straight outside.
12) Always take a puppy outside shortly after they have eaten or had a drink and also when they wake up.
13) If you have to leave a puppy for periods of time or cannot always watch them consider using a puppy crate to help toilet train them. The puppy will view the crate as their home or bed and as somewhere they can feel safe so will not want to use it as a toilet. As soon as you can let them outside to go to the toilet and never use the crate to punish a puppy by locking them away or they may learn to associate the crate with bad feeling and fear rather than pleasant feelings.
14) Take care not to over exercise or overstimulate a puppy. Being over tired or over excited can lead to more toileting accidents.
© 2014 Claire