Contrary to popular myths about house training, training your puppy to eliminate outdoors should be a positive process that does not involve punishment or force. There are just two main ideas to keep in mind while you are house training your pup, first, reward your puppy for eliminating outdoors. Second, prevent your puppy from having accidents inside.
It is important to realize that some puppies may not be reliably house trained until they are eight to twelve months old. Puppies do not have the ability to control their bladders or bowels until they are at least twelve weeks old. By this age, your pup can be expected to “hold it” no longer than his age in months, plus one hour (so, a three-month-old puppy can realistically wait no more than four hours between trips outside). Some pups may catch on early to house training but then seem to regress; this is perfectly normal. Whenever there is a breakdown in house training, the best advice is to go back to the basics—supervision, confinement, consistency, and rewards.
To successfully house train your puppy, follow these basic steps:
(1) Put your pup on a consistent feeding schedule, and remove his food between meals.
(2) Take your pup outside every hour during the day. He will also need to go outside after eating, drinking, naps, and play.
(3) Supervise your pup anytime that he is not confined. Watch for signs that he needs to go outside. These include circling, sniffing, whining, and walking away from what he was doing.
(4) Confine your pup whenever you are unable to supervise him. You may use a crate or a small, puppy-proofed room blocked off by a baby gate. When your pup eliminates outside, he may have 15-20 minutes of free-time in the house under your direct supervision. At all other times, he should be confined or carefully supervised. You should never have to ask, “where is the puppy?”
(5) Go outside with your pup and praise and reward him when he eliminates.
(6) If you catch your pup in the act of eliminating indoors, clap your hands sharply to startle and interrupt him. Then, run with him outside and, if he finishes eliminating outdoors, praise and reward him.
If your pup has an accident that you find later, do nothing. Your puppy will not understand what he is being punished for if you rub his nose in his waste or scold him. Know that next time you need to supervise your puppy better, take him out more frequently, or do a better job of recognizing the signals that he has to go potty. Clean up accidents with an enzyme-based cleaner to ensure that the odor is removed completely; do not use products containing ammonia. If the odor is not thoroughly destroyed, your puppy will be drawn back to that spot to urinate again.