Housebreaking is one of the first goals most owners want their puppies to accomplish. Depending upon the breed of the puppy, house training may be more successful once the puppy is 6 months old. Smaller breeds, such as Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and miniature pinschers, may not be house trainable any younger because of their limited capacity to hold waste. Regardless of their size, puppies want to please their owners and respond to praise and rewards.
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Take your puppy outside when it wakes in the morning. Most 6-month-old puppies can hold their bladders overnight. Praise your puppy or reward it when it eliminates.
Feed your puppy and give it water on a regular schedule. Canines are creatures of habit, and puppies need to eliminate right after eating, drinking or playing. Anticipate their needs and plan potty breaks accordingly.
Supervise your puppy at all times inside. Crate your puppy in a wire mesh or plastic kennel at night and when you cannot watch it, even if it's for five or 10 minutes. Crates or kennels provide a safe environment, like canine dens in the wild, and crate-trained puppies are unlikely to soil their "dens."
Pick up food and water two hours before bedtime. This gives the puppy time to empty its bowels and bladder during the last potty break and to potentially be accident-free overnight.
Praise your puppy. Never scold a dog for an accident you didn't witness. Puppies cannot reason why you are mad. If you catch the puppy eliminating in the wrong location, make a sudden clapping sound with your hands, loudly say "no!" and take the puppy outside. Praise the puppy every time it eliminates outside.
Hang a bell at the puppy's level by the door. Help it ring the bell with its paw or nose every time you take it out. If taught consistently, the puppy will learn to signal you when it needs to go outside.
Tips and warnings
- Adjust diet as needed. Some foods can affect a puppy's digestive system.
- Paper training is not recommended unless it will always be an indoor option.
- Urinary infections and other complications may inhibit the training process. For persistent problems, or for a sudden change in behaviour, consult your veterinarian.
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