Perhaps the biggest challenge facing new pet owners is how to teach the dog where and when to eliminate. The solution is actually quite simple and effective, and will leave you with a minimal mess if you follow the basic rules.
Best Friends pet care experts stress that the most important thing to remember is be consistent and above all, patient.
1. Establish a routine
Follow a basic schedule for puppy. Take her out often (some pet care specialists recommend going out every 2 hours), and immediately after playing, sleeping and eating.
Feed your dog at the same time every day. Keep in mind that when a dog eats, a "gastro-colic" reflex occurs. The food in the dog’s stomach signals the large intestines to empty out in preparation for more food. A regular meal schedule generally means a regular potty schedule will follow.
Feeding your dog a premium, easily digestible pet food will reduce the frequency and size of bowel movements. Also, be sure not to give your puppy too many salty treats (such as rawhide) during housetraining – the extra salt will make the puppy drink more water, which of course will lead to… you guessed it!
2. Establish a potty spot
Assign a location close to the house to be your dog’s elimination area. Always bring your pet to this particular location when she needs to go out. When dogs relieve themselves, a scent chemical is released (a "pheromone") which triggers the reflex to eliminate again. Bringing your pet to the same area will let him know that this is where he’s supposed to go and using a phrase such as "go potty" every time you go to that spot will help puppy associate that term with elimination.
If puppy has an accident in the house (which is inevitable), clean the soiled area thoroughly, being sure to eliminate any trace of odors. Take the soiled rags or material out to the potty spot.
3. Encourage and praise, don’t punish
Praise your puppy every time he eliminates in his potty spot – while she’s doing it, while she’s out there, and immediately when she’s done. Dogs learn best when taught at the time of the action, never before or after.
Accidents are inevitable. DO NOT scold your dog, say the experts. He will have no idea why he’s being reprimanded. If you catch him in the act, startle him with a loud, quick noise and immediately bring him to his potty area. Keep a supply of pet odor neutralizer handy, as well as plenty of paper towels and cleaning solutions.
4. Be watchful
The key to avoiding accidents is to supervise your puppy as much as possible during the housetraining process. Watch for signs that she needs to go out, such as sniffing around or circling. If you see these signs, immediately take her out to her potty spot.
If you can’t watch your puppy, confine him to his crate or a small area. Dogs have an instinct for cleanliness, and will not eliminate in their sleeping or eating area.
Don’t be discouraged if puppy has some training troubles. Sometimes other factors (such as a change in the household) can cause a relapse, even in older puppies that are already housetrained. Just continue to be consistent, and she’ll eventually remember.
Visit your local Best Friends pet care center for a variety of products which can be helpful throughout the housetraining process.