Training vs. Correction

Our goal is to begin training our puppies “where they should go” potty as soon they are old enough so that they don’t establish habits of going “where they should not go.” Young puppies cannot understand that eliminating in the house is a mistake and correcting them is unkind because they cannot comprehend what they are doing is wrong. However, they can be encouraged to understand that going potty outside is good and positive. Our simple objective is to prevent mistakes and reward success.

Getting Started Early

We put a lot of effort into establishing a daily routine for our puppies while they are still with us. We believe that placing them on a simple schedule every day helps establish the positive patterns needed to make housetraining easier for their new families. To be honest, it often feels as if we are running a little daycare center because the puppies are on a daily schedule of napping, pottying, eating and playing. Although the schedule is very simple, it works very well.

The first few weeks of a puppy’s life, they mostly sleep and eat. They make very small messes and it’s actually quite easy to just lay down puppy pads in their whelping box and change them throughout the day. Later, however, they become more active and make larger messes and that is when we begin placing them on a schedule - around 4 weeks.

First Goal - "Where to Go" Instead of "Where Not to Go"

Our first goal is simply to show the puppies “where to go” instead of “where not to go”. In the beginning, we take them outside often and praise them whenever they go potty, so they begin to correlate the outside with going potty. We use the same command, “Go Potty” and take them to the same spot each time. This stage actually doesn’t take very long, perhaps because their moms are potty trained and set a good example.

Second Goal - Schedule Aligned with Natural Instincts

Our next goal is to place the puppies on a schedule that works with their natural instincts. By making it fit with what comes naturally, we easily increase their success by predicting “when” they need to go. We begin by getting up before they do. We wake them and quickly carry them outside before they have a chance to eliminate inside - a lot of hands help. Since they have been asleep, their bladders are full, so it only takes a few minutes for all of them to go potty outside. Next, we feed them their dry puppy food for breakfast and take them back out. It only takes about fifteen more minutes before they all “poo poo,” also, from eating their solid food.

Third Goal - Working on a Schedule

Now we begin an hour of playtime, because we can be fairly certain that no one will have an accident. During playtime the puppies are allowed to run freely while being closely supervised. They play, explore and look for family members to follow around. We hold them, play with them, and focus on introducing them to new things.

After about one hour, we bring them back outside and encourage them to go potty again. Then we place them back in the whelping box with their mom. Since they are tired and hungry from playing, they naturally nurse and then drift off to sleep.

We watch them closely, and usually, in about an hour or two we will observe a puppy wake up. We know that the others will wake up soon, too. We quickly carry them back outside to go potty again. As soon as they have all gone, they follow us back inside for another hour of playtime and the schedule repeats.

Fourth Goal - Outside Means Potty

This schedule helps the puppies grow accustomed to going potty outside all day. They quickly catch on and soon know what to do as soon as we go outside together. They get faster and more successful as they grow. Since the puppies are so young, we know they can’t fully comprehend not to go potty inside yet. However, we believe that by controlling their environment we establish positive habits that will go with them into their new home, making the completion of their house training that much easier.

Tips On House Training as They Transition Into Your Home

  • Place them on a schedule at home and remember that consistency speeds up the learning process.
  • Remember it is easier to teach a puppy “where to go” than “where not to go."
  • Immediately upon the puppy waking up - anytime of the day - take them outside to go potty.
  • As soon as they eat solid food or get a large drink, take them outside to go potty.
  • Take them outside every hour or so in the beginning. If they do not go, hold them, or if you are busy place them in their crate for half an hour or so and take them back outside to try again. If they still won’t go, continue to hold them or place them back in the crate for about 30 more minutes and keep repeating until they have successfully gone outside. Once they have gone, you can let the puppy play and not worry as much about an accident. As the puppy grows, extend the time between taking them outside.
  • When taking your puppy outside, pick him or her up and carry them for the first few weeks, or walk very quickly if the puppy is too large to hold, so they don’t go on the way to the door. This will allow you to place them in an appropriate spot that you have chosen.
  • Choose the same spot for going potty every time and lovingly praise them when they are successful.
  • Say a chosen command such as “Go Potty” so they learn to associate your words with eliminating.
  • Restrict the puppy’s freedom until they are completely housetrained. Keep them in a small room that is easily puppy-proofed or supervise them fully so they don’t have unseen accidents. This will speed up their training and allow them to have complete freedom sooner.
  • When you leave your puppy alone, use a crate to control their environment. Since they naturally will not want to go potty in there, restraining them in a crate will help them wait until you can take them outside. Using a crate at night or whenever you leave the house will also help them stay safe when you can’t be there to supervise and keep them from getting into something dangerous.
  • Remember that house training takes time but the more consistent you are, the faster the puppy will learn. There are plenty of books and websites available to encourage you and to help you persevere until you are successful. It won’t take long until you can trust your new friend and relax and enjoy life together!