There are 4 areas to focus on when planning how to help your puppy to be house trained.
1. Proper Diet and Schedule
2. Using a Crate, Gates and X-pens
3. Catching Them in the Act
4. Cleaning Up
1. Proper diet and schedule:
Feed good quality puppy food 2 or 3 times daily.
Pick up any uneaten food. No people food as it may upset their digestive system and may make it harder for them to control their bowels. Get on a regular schedule. Take them out as soon as they wake in the morning and then bring them back in for feeding.
You will then need to take them back out again after breakfast.
Dogs usually need to eliminate 10-20 minutes (some dogs less) after eating and drinking. Usually they will also eliminate after play and/or napping too,
Look for signs of them sniffing the floor, tail sometimes can be up and rigid. Once outside, you can use a trigger word like “go potty” but keep it quiet so they stay relaxed. As soon as they go potty, praise them vigorously and bring them right back in the house. If they don’t go when you take them out, put them back in the crate and wait 10-15 more minutes and take them out again.
2. Using Crates, Gates and X-pens:
Dog’s have a natural instinct is to keep their dens clean. This is why they usually will not go potty in the crate. The crate can be considered the den, but you’ll want puppy to expand their idea of the den to include the entire house. Increase space slowly as they become more reliable. It is important to keep them insight so they don’t go to another room and go potty. If you are trying to give them time outside of the crate to play or be near you, use an X-Pen or leash attached to you. Eventually, they will expand to more of the home so close doors or use baby gates to block access and keep the puppy out of trouble until you can supervise them. Anytime they are unsupervised they should be crated or in a confined space until they are trusted.
A word about crates…
Be sure the crate is only big enough for the puppy to stand, turn around and lay down. If it is too big they will go to the opposite end of the crate to go potty and still keep an end clean to lie down. A good rule of thumb for length of time in a great you can confine 1hr. for every month old: 8 week of puppy = 2 hours.
3. Catching Them in the Act:
It is helpful to catch them in the act and interrupt with a loud startling noise – loud clap of the hands or shake a penny can*. You want them to think that relieving themselves in the house is not relaxing or calm. If you can surprise them by bowling the penny can across the floor, (so they don’t even know where it came from) you can then swoop in as the “rescuer” to quickly get them outside where it is quiet and peaceful. If you don’t catch them in the act don’t act angry or do any physical punishment (rubbing their face into it) because it will delay progress and could prolong success…dogs will connect YOU + ELIMINATION = A BAD THING and they will avoid going in front of you and may not want to go in front of you outside either. Instead they will try to find a “safe” place in the house to go and they will not make the connection to go outside.
4. Cleaning Up:
If you don’t catch them in the act, just clean it up and consider it your mistake – be more watchful next time. Use an enzyme neutralizer, like Natures Miracle. Be sure not to use any ammonia based products. It will smell like urine to the dog and they will continue to use this spot and so may other dogs who visit!