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Do you remember how long it took you before you were potty trained? As a mom, I can tell you it does not happen overnight. It takes vigilance, encouragement, patience, praise and bribery. Just when it seems like diapers would be part of the cost of a college education, the light seems to come on in a toddler’s head, and all that work pays off. He or she is potty trained!

Training your puppy to use a special “toilet area” is a lot like that. It can take months before he can be trusted not to make mistakes. The more diligent and supportive you are, the faster he will learn. Your goal should be to avoid letting your puppy make a mistake. It’s a lot easier to teach a puppy what he should do than to teach him what he should not do. Although I assume you are going to train your puppy to go outdoors, this method works for any kind of housetraining; paper, litter box or outdoors; and will work for adult dogs, too.

It is important to put your puppy on a feeding schedule. Write down the time he eats and the time he poops. When you have a daily record of times, then you will know what time you need to take him to his toilet area. You will also need to take him out about 10 minutes after he has a drink of water. Take your puppy out after a nap. After he has been playing, he will need to potty, too. Just like little kids, puppies get so excited about playing they do not want to stop and go to the bathroom. That is when accidents happen.

Puppies are easily distracted, so leaving him outside by himself just will not work. You need to stay with him so he can learn what it is you want him to do. You might want him to hurry up and go potty, but your puppy would rather play. Be patient, but help your puppy focus on the task at hand by telling him something like, “(Puppy), go potty.” (use his name and whatever word you want to use to make him go.) When he goes, tell him, “good, Puppy!” and give him a treat. If you are consistent and patient, your puppy will learn to go potty when you tell him! Some day when it is raining or cold outside, or you are in a hurry, you will be glad you taught him that command.

Remember, if your puppy has an accident, it’s not the puppy’s fault. It is your fault. You were not paying close enough attention. If your puppy makes a mistake, ignore it. Never rub his nose in it or spank him. That will only make him lose his trust in you, and hide his mistakes from you. It is a lot better to find a mistake out in the open than behind the couch! If you catch him in the act, interrupt him by saying something like, “Aaa Aaa” or "Oh no!” Pick him up and carry him to his potty area and tell him to go there. Only correct your puppy if you catch him in the act. Otherwise, say nothing. Clean up the mess when your puppy is not looking. Make sure you clean the spot with an enzyme cleaning product that neutralizes the odor. Soap is not enough. If you do not remove the odor, the puppy will want to go there again.

All puppies are different. How long it will take before your puppy is completely house trained depends on how attentive you are, how smart he is and how willing he is to learn. It is not appropriate to as an eight-week-old puppy to control his bladder for more than an hour. Expecting him to learn bladder control in a few days is unrealistic. Do not be disappointed if your puppy is eight or nine months old before you can trust him. This is especially true for small breed dogs. And, do not get mad at him if he has a setback after you think he should be trained. Just be patient. Your puppy will be telling you when he needs to go out before you know it!

Article submitted by Kathie Compton,

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