One of the most important things for any dog owner is to housebreak or house train your dog. Cleaning up accidents in your home over and over again can be frustrating and even embarrassing at times. All dog owners go through this but it shouldn’t be an extended problem for you and your dog. Like with everything, understanding is key to success. Here are a few things to understand specifically to puppies but it applies to adult dogs as well.
1. Your puppy can only hold his bladder for a certain amount of time.
If your puppy is having accidents while are you are at work for 12 hours a day, your expectation is unreasonable. The general rule of thumb for puppies is the age in months equals the number of hours he can hold his bladder.
Question: A 4 month puppy can hold his bladder for…
A. 5 hours
B. 4 hours
C. 3 hours
The correct answer is B. Puppies don’t have much bladder control until around 3 months of age. Before that, expect to take your puppy outside frequently. A 0-1 month old, every 15-30 minutes. A 1-3 month old, every 30 minutes to 1 hour. An adult can hold his bladder for 6-10 hours.
2. Crate train your puppy.
For many, crating your puppy seems cruel and unusual especially if you have owned a dog before. The reality is it’s not at all cruel, ask anyone who has properly crate trained before. Dogs are den animals and a crate is providing a safe and secure place for your dog. Your dog will use the crate on his own for the rest of his life. Your dog will sleep in his crate and go there when he feels unsecure or anxious, for example in thunderstorms. Crates are not to be used as punishment including time outs. Dogs don’t want to soil their bedding and won’t voluntarily eliminate in his crate. It also builds the muscles in the bladder for greater bladder control.
3. Be consistent.
Don’t wait to housebreak your puppy. Get into a rhythm early and set a schedule.
– Feed on time, every time.
– Immediately go outside after feeding so your puppy can eliminate.
– Take up water one hour before sleep and one hour before you crate.
4. Monitor, monitor, monitor.
Watch you puppy like a hawk. Set aside an area for your dog to eat, sleep, and play. The famous animal behaviorist, Dr. Ian Dunbar, suggests you make a plan pen for young puppies. If you catch your puppy elimating inside, immediately take him outside. Don’t scold him or rub his face in the ground, you’re not teaching him anything except to fear you and you want your dog to respect you.
5. Praise, praise, praise.
When your dog does eliminate outside, make a huge deal out of it. Say something like ‘good potty’ and treat him and give a good rub down. He will associate eliminating outside is a good thing!
Housebreaking takes time and patience. Invest in these two things and it will pay off. For an adult dog, the learning time can be as quick as one week but typically a few weeks is adequate time. Remember, you only have to do this once with your dog if you do it right. Best of luck to you and your four legged friend!