Take your puppy outside on a leash

Figuring out how to get housebreaking right the first time can be challenging.  But having a plan makes it easy.

What could be more delightful than a playful puppy?  Playing is a necessary part of learning and you should always include playing in your housebreaking plan.

However, opinions and suggestions from family, friends, social media and self-proclaimed experts can be confusing.

You need is a proven plan that shows you exactly how to schedule your puppy's potty breaks.

Remember, dogs are not born understanding where people want them to go to the bathroom.

Most of us want our dogs to take care of their needs outside. Small dogs in city apartments sometimes use pads or a litter box indoors.

Teach your dog what you expect.

Teaching is proactive. It is not reactive. Reacting after the puppy has already pottied indoors will not teach him to go outside next time.  Punishment causes fear of the person and confuses the puppy.

Have a Plan and build a Schedule.

Creating a schedule and taking the puppy to his outdoor “potty area” before he needs to relieve himself is proactive.  Proactive training is positive and does not involve punishment.

You can teach your puppy to tell you when he has to go out.  Be consistent.  Take him outside on a leash to his potty spot and make it easy for him to do what you want.

Having a schedule and a plan is the key to successfully housebreaking a puppy

Housebreaking, as well as all dog training, isn't driven by emotion.

Don't waste precious energy on anger or frustration.  Be proactive and take control with a plan.  It's unfair to blame the dog for not knowing what you haven't taught him!

Housebreaking is accomplished with common sense action.  The problem won't solve itself.

A Proven Plan:

Schedule your puppy's day around three basic activities:

  • Confinement
  • Exercise
  • Supervised Free Play

Confinement:  Confinement is usually in a crate, but it can also be in a small gated off space. Choose a space large enough for comfort and small enough to discourage the puppy to eliminate. Giving a puppy unsupervised freedom in the house interferes with housebreaking by allowing indoor “accidents”.

Exercise: After confinement in his crate overnight, take your puppy outside on a leash as soon as he is awake.  Go to the same potty spot every time you take him out.

If he potties outside, praise generously. If he does not relieve himself after a reasonable time, he must go back into his crate. After 5 or 10 minutes take him out again.

Repeat until he potties outside.

Supervised Free Play: Play includes going for a walk, playing fetch in a safely fenced area, or playing indoors under your direct supervision.

When Play ends, the puppy may need to go out to potty once more.  Then return the puppy to his Confinement place for a rest.

Repeat the cycle of these three activities throughout the day.  Integrate the schedule into your daily routine. The length of time for each part of the schedule will vary according to the time of day and your daily routine.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Food and Water:  Include your puppy's meal times in the schedule and remember to take him outside to potty within 30 minutes of eating and drinking. Free access to water all day makes it harder to predict when he needs to go out.  Give him drinks on a schedule.
  • Keep a written log of your daily routine.  After several days you will see patterns that will help you modify the routine to get the best results.
  • Accept the fact that puppy mistakes are trainer errors.  Blaming the dog is useless.  Review your plan to see what you can improve.
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