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Healthy Dogs

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House Training Your Puppy

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House training your puppy is about consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. The goal is to instill good habits and build a loving bond with your pet.

It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Your puppy's previous living conditions are another predictor. You may find that you need to help your puppy break old habits in order to establish more desirable ones.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Caring for a Newborn Puppy

During the first few weeks of life, a puppy’s primary activities are feeding, keeping warm and developing social skills. In most cases, humans will simply watch the mother dog provide all necessary care for her puppies. However, if the puppy in your care has been separated from his mother, or if the mother dog has rejected her young or cannot produce enough milk, caring for the pup is up to you.

Read the Caring for a Newborn Puppy article > >

And while you're training, don’t worry if there are setbacks. As long as you continue a management program that includes taking puppy out at the first sign he needs to go and offering him rewards, he’ll learn.

When to Begin House Training Puppy

Experts recommend that you begin house training your puppy when he is between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. At that point, he has enough control of his bladder and bowel movements to learn to hold it.

If your puppy is older than 12 weeks when you bring him home and he’s been eliminating in a cage (and possibly eating his waste), house training may take longer. You will have to reshape the dog’s behavior -- with encouragement and reward.

Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy

Experts recommend confining the puppy to a defined space, whether that means in a crate, in a room, or on a leash. As your puppy learns that he needs to go outside to do his business, you can gradually give him more freedom to roam about the house.

When you start to house train, follow these steps:

  • Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule and take away his food between meals. 
  • Take puppy out to eliminate first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. Also, always take him outside after meals or when he wakes from a nap. Make sure he goes out last thing at night and before he’s left alone. 
  • Take puppy to the same spot each time to do his business. His scent will prompt him to go. 
  • Stay with him outside, at least until he’s house trained. 
  • When your puppy eliminates outside, praise him or give him a treat. A walk around the neighborhood is a nice reward.


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