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Puppy 101: How do I housebreak my puppy?

First in a series of posts about how to care for a new puppy.

How do I housebreak my puppy?

This always the first question owners have with a new puppy - and for good reason.

It is important to do take the right approach the beginning. Do not use puppy training pads or newspapers. While this is easier in the short term, in the long term all it does is teach the pup to urinate and defecate in the house, which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

Crate training is the most effective way to teach a puppy not to urinate or defecate in the house. It is so effective because puppies are 'pre-programmed' not to soil their sleeping area.

What kind of crate should you purchase?

  • Use a crate that is small enough so that if the puppy makes a mess, he/she cannot avoid it. You want a puppy 'bedroom', not a puppy 'apartment'.

  • Consider a crate with a divider included, so the crate can be made bigger as the pup grows. Try to avoid the full plastic walled travel crates; see-through wire crates are preferable.

Now that you have the crate, how do you use it?

  • The puppy is put in the crate at night, during the day when no one is home, and also during the day when people are home but no one is paying direct attention to the pup.

  • The puppy is not allowed free access to any part of the house. This will change as the pup gets older and the potty training improves.

  • When you are home you take the puppy out every few hours to urinate and defecate. You praise him/her when they do. You also take them out last thing at night and first thing in the morning, before leaving the house, and after you get back home.

  • If you have to take your puppy out during the night, keep it all 'business', no cuddle time or games, otherwise you may find your puppy waking you up in the middle of the night just for attention, not to use the bathroom.

By following these steps, you try to make sure that the puppy is outside whenever he/she has to pee or poop. Eventually, going outside becomes a habit.

If you know your pup needs to go to the bathroom, but they get distracted outside and won’t go, bring them back in and put them in the crate for a few minutes.

This will remind them they need to go! Remember that your puppy will need to have a bowel movement about 20 minutes after they eat a big meal.

Have more questions about training your new dog? Ask at your next visit! Schedule an appointment by calling Animal Center on Romany at 859-268-1780. Dr. Donworth believes in spending a lot of time with new puppy owners to set you on the right path to having a healthy, happy, well behaved family dog.

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