Apple Valley Animal Hospital

1207 Cedar Creek Grade
Winchester, VA 22602


House training tips from Apple Valley Animal Hospital

House training your puppy is about consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement. The goal is to instill good habits and build a loving bond with your pet.

It typically takes 4-6 months for a puppy to be fully house trained, but some puppies may take up to a year. Size can be a predictor. For instance, smaller breeds have smaller bladders and higher metabolisms and require more frequent trips outside. Your puppy's previous living conditions are another predictor. You may find that you need to help your puppy break old habits in order to establish more desirable ones.  And while you're training, don’t worry if there are setbacks. As long as you continue a management program that includes taking puppy out at the first sign he needs to go and offering him rewards, he’ll learn.

Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy: Signs That Your Puppy Needs to Eliminate are whining, circling, sniffing and barking

Experts recommend confining the puppy to a defined space while house training, whether that means in a crate, in a room, or on a leash.

When you start to house train, follow these steps:

  • Keep the puppy on a very regular feeding and drinking schedule. Take him out after meals and then again in 30 minutes.
  • Take puppy out to eliminate first thing in the morning and at least every hour if possible.
  • Always take him outside when he wakes from a nap.
  • Make sure he goes out last thing at night and before he’s left alone.
  • Make him sit at the door (even tiny breeds) before going out so he will connect the door with going outside right away.
  • Take puppy to the same spot each time to do his business. His scent will prompt him to go.
  • Stay with him outside and keep him on a leash. This is not play time. Use a key word or phrase like ‘Go potty.  Let him stop to sniff, but if he otherwise is distracted, keep him moving forward.
  • When your puppy eliminates outside, praise, praise, praise and then play. Playing after is important so he knows going potty outside comes with play.
  • Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no. It teaches your puppy to fear you.
  • If you can’t be home during the house training period, make sure somebody else gives him a break in the middle of the day for the first 8 months.
  • Don’t use a crate if puppy is eliminating in it. Eliminating in the crate could have several meanings: he may have brought bad habits from the shelter or pet store where he lived before; he may not be getting outside enough; the crate may be too big; or he may be too young to hold it in.
  • If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly so he knows he’s done something unacceptable. Then take him outside by calling him or taking him gently by the collar and use the word or phrase you have chosen. When he’s finished, praise him. If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing his nose in it. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident.

Clean up accidents with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based cleaner to minimize odors that might attract the puppy back to the same spot.