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Healthy Dogs

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House Training Your Puppy

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Using a Crate to House Train Puppy

A crate can be a good idea for house training your puppy, at least in the short term. It will allow you to keep an eye on him for signs he needs to go and teach him to hold it until you open the crate and let him outside.

Here are a few guidelines for using a crate:

  • Make sure it is large enough for the puppy to stand, turn around, and lie down, but not big enough for him to use a corner as a bathroom. 
  • If you are using the crate for more than two hours at a time, make sure puppy has fresh water, preferably in a dispenser you can attach to the crate. 
  • If you can’t be home during the house training period, make sure somebody else gives him a break in the middle of the day for the first 8 months. 
  • Don’t use a crate if puppy is eliminating in it. Eliminating in the crate could have several meanings: he may have brought bad habits from the shelter or pet store where he lived before; he may not be getting outside enough; the crate may be too big; or he may be too young to hold it in.


Signs That Your Puppy Needs to Eliminate

Whining, circling, sniffing, barking, or, if your puppy is unconfined, barking or scratching at the door, are all signs he needs to go. Take him out right away.

House Training Setbacks

Accidents are common in puppies up to a year old. The reasons for accidents range from incomplete house training to a change in the puppy’s environment.

When your puppy does have an accident, keep on training. Then if it still doesn’t seem to be working, consult a veterinarian to rule out a medical issue.

Do's and Don’ts in Potty Training Your Puppy

Keep the following do's and don'ts in mind while housetraining your puppy:

  • Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. It teaches your puppy to fear you. 
  • If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly so he knows he’s done something unacceptable. Then take him outside by calling him or taking him gently by the collar. When he’s finished, praise him or give him a small treat. 
  • If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing his nose in it. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident. 
  • Staying outside longer with puppy may help to curb accidents. He may need the extra time to explore. 
  • Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot.


WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on September 15, 2014
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