Does it feel like it’s taking forever to housetrain your puppy? They may have one perfect day, then three accidents the next. The truth is, puppies have accidents when they cannot meet our unrealistic expectations. We may think they are trained when they are still learning good habits. Use these tips to take your puppy from “half-trained” to “reliable.”
Is Your Puppy Truly Ready For Freedom?
There seems to be a correlation between a dog’s size and their ability to be housetrained quickly. Large puppies often get it right within a few weeks, while a smaller dog can take months. There’s no standard for how old a puppy needs to be before you can trust them to be unsupervised in your home without having an accident. If your puppy is younger than six months old, however, they may not have yet fully developed their bladder control.
Regardless, if you’re finding that your puppy is having accidents in your home, you need to limit their freedom. This is also true of adult dogs that were never fully housetrained. The first step to eliminating accidents is making sure your puppy does not have any opportunities to have them.
Your Puppy’s Schedule
Often, a puppy will have accidents when they do not have enough access to the outdoors. Your puppy will need to relief when they wake up, after eating or drinking and after playing – so, basically, nearly constantly. You’ll notice a pattern after spending a few days watching your puppy very closely and even making notes. Of course, your puppy’s elimination habits will change as they grow, and will vary from day to day depending on what they eat and how much water they drink.
You may need to go home from work on your lunch break, set up an alternating schedule with your partner or housemates, or hire a dog walker to make sure your puppy goes out frequently.
When your puppy is home alone, they will need to be in a crate. An eight-week-old puppy should be crated for no more than two hours. By six months, you can crate your puppy for up to four hours. Before you crate your puppy, you should spend plenty of time with them outside, playing and making sure they are relieved before you leave them alone.
Do Puppies Need Potty Pads?
If you are unable to take your puppy out every few hours, you may want to consider using potty pads. Some people do not want to use them because they can be messy, and they teach your puppy to eliminate indoors. However, they make sense when traditional housetraining is not working, when you are unable to take your puppy out often, and are often used with small breeds who live in flats. After all, it is better for your puppy to use a pad than to eliminate everywhere in your home. The choice of whether or not to use them is up to your personal preference.
It’s usually quite easy to teach a puppy to use pads. Simply place your puppy on the pad often, and praise them when they use the pad. You can scent the pad with your puppy’s urine and feces to encourage them to use it.
Re-Training Your Puppy
When you get frustrated upon having to clean up yet another accident, you may lose sight of your training goals. Of course you want to stop cleaning up accidents, but your true goal is to raise a puppy that is able to communicate when they need to go out, and reliably control their bladder when unsupervised, even when loose in your home.
Sometimes troubles in house-training can come down to communication issues. If your puppy does not realize they must tell you when they have the urge, they will continue to find a spot to relieve themselves. When they are scolded for eliminating, they may only be compelled to do it privately. Toilet training bells are a wonderful tool for teaching your puppy to communicate their needs and to wait to be taken out.
Remember to praise your puppy and give them a treat every time they relieve themselves in the appropriate place. Housetraining should be fun!