Are you welcoming a new four-legged bundle of puppy love into your home? Your new “best friend” will provide countless hours of joy over the years; but as a puppy it will need lots of attention and work to make sure it turns into the healthy, adjusted companion you want. That’s why toilet training needs to begin right away. But don’t look for a quick solution. WebMD says some puppies can be trained in a week, although it typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained and some may take up to a year. Training depends on a puppy’s ability to learn. Whatever the age, the key to puppy training is consistency, patience and positive reinforcement.
With that in mind, a successful training program should include:
Provide a confined space: Start by confining your puppy to a confined space, such as a crate or a specific room. As your puppy becomes familiar with the outdoors, you gradually can let it roam about the house.
Provide a regular routine. As soon as your puppy wakes up and after it has had food or water, take it to the area you’ve designed for its “toilet.” This can be an area in your back yard that you’ve fenced off or marked with bark chips, notes Purina. In this way, the area has smells that are different from other scents in the garden so your puppy can learn to differentiate it. Keep the area clean by picking up “messes,” since dogs like to go to a clean spot to do their business.
Don’t carry: Purina also advises not to pick up your puppy and carry it outside. Build its confidence and independence by letting it walk to go to the toilet area. Walking also stimulates the bowel and bladder. After the puppy has eliminated, you may want to take it out for a longer walk or playtime.
Feed regularly: You’ll also want put your puppy on a regular feeding schedule. Puppies usually need to be fed 3 or 4 times a day, says HSUS. Feeding your puppy on a schedule will make its bathroom times more consistent. Also pick up the water bowl several hours before bedtime so the puppy won’t need to relieve itself during the night.
Reinforce with Rewards: It’s important to reward your puppy after it’s finished in the outdoor area set aside for its toilet. This way, it will learn what you are expecting. Don’t rush the reward though. Give your puppy plenty of time to finish and then give it the reward plus praise.
Mistakes happen: Even with the best of training there are bound to be mistakes. Don’t punish your puppy or rub its nose in its waste. Punishing your puppy will instill fear in you and will discourage your puppy from eliminating when you are around. Just clean the area and continue with your training regimen.
Supervision, confinement, routine and rewards should do the trick. Be patient. Your puppy will get the hang of it. We all know how brilliant dogs are!