House training a puppy: The essentials
There are few greater joys than the arrival of a new puppy into your family home.
Those first few months will be full of moments to cherish but it’s also a key time for setting behaviour patterns and developing good habits, none more so than house training.
Making sure your puppy learns not to go to the toilet indoors is the most important step.
When should I start house training a puppy?
You should aim to start house training a puppy when it is between three and four months old (12-16 weeks). At this age, they should be able to control their bladder and bowel movements and begin to learn to hold on.
Typically, it takes between four and six months to fully house train a puppy.
Set a strict schedule
Teach your puppy where he or she is allowed to go to the toilet by taking them there frequently. This will allow them to explore and get to know the surroundings.
Let your puppy out after meals and after they’ve played or had a nap.
Keep your puppy within sight all the time, so that you can intervene immediately if he or she looks like trying to go to the toilet somewhere they shouldn’t.
When your young dog does well – and goes to the toilet in the right place – make sure you reward him or her with a treat. Reinforcing positive behaviour is the most effective way to get results.
You might not like it, but this will also mean taking your puppy out in the night if necessary.
Aim to keep this routine up until your puppy has gone for a month without soiling your home.
Keep calm and carry on
Remember that mistakes will happen when house training a puppy. Your puppy is learning and it will take time. If he or she goes to the toilet indoors, don’t be tempted to punish them. This can harm the bond between you and may slow down the process.
If you catch your puppy in the act, clap your hands or bang on a surface. Don’t shout – just interrupt the act and then take your dog outside to finish.
It’s a good idea to clean any soiled surface as quickly as possible as this reduces the risk of reoffending.
Aim to create a good bond
The process of house training is about being consistent, patient and staying positive.
The overall aim is to encourage good behaviour and to strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.