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8–11 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

How to Get Your Puppy Used to a Crate :: A Guide to Your Puppy's First Round of Vaccines :: Five Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy in (Almost) a Week :: How to Review Your Puppy's Diet for Optimal Health

Five Steps for Housetraining Your Puppy in (Almost) a Week

The problem is as old as when we first domesticated dogs about 15,000 years ago - how do you housetrain a dog? And, nowadays, with our lack of time and energy, we wonder how quickly it can be done. Can it be done in a month? A few weeks? A week? Yes! It can be done in approximately a week and, though you may have accidents down the line at different stages of your puppy's life, it is a fix that will stay and can be re-learned quickly.

Very few puppies will be housetrained when you get them. If they're slightly older, such as 16 weeks, your pup may be well on his way (pups under ten weeks cannot control their urination more than a few hours). But, at this age, you're bound to come across little puppy piddles and poopie buried under the rug. The keys to training your pup quickly are: time, tenacity, patience and consistency. So, you may have to take a little time off work up front but it will pay off later.

  1. Use the Crate! Once your pup is comfortable in his crate, use it to help with housetraining. Your puppy is unlikely to soil his area so the longer you can train him to be in the crate, the less likely he is to have accidents.

  2. Watch That Dog! Keep on eye on your puppy as much as possible. The more times you can catch him just as he's about to go to the bathroom, the quicker he'll learn. Watch for the signs, and immediately grab him and place him outside (even if he's started peeing). The signs of an imminent bowel movement are: squatting, sniffing in out-of-the-way places, and turning circles. You've got to be quick because a puppy can find a spot and urinate in five seconds.

  3. Praise, Praise, Praise! When you get your pup outside, praise him even if he managed to finish his business on your new sweater. Never admonish your puppy for accidents.

  4. Enlist the Help of Others! The whole process will be easier and more effective if family members or friends can help.

  5. Banish That Smell! When there are accidents, immediately clean the area with a cleaner that gets rids of urine smells, not something that just masks it. Your pup will return to the same places where he's urinated if you don't.

It may seem like a lot of work but the consequences of not housetraining your puppy early on are many. You'll have the stigma of an ill-mannered puppy on your hands when you take him places and it makes obedience training more difficult because your puppy hasn't gone through the first lesson of learning who the alpha dog is (you!). Also, training an adult dog takes much more work and they're not as easy to scoop up and place outside.

It's a fairly simple way of housetraining but it's very effective if you take the time and make the effort. Just remember to keep your eyes open, your arms ready to scoop up your furry friend and your cheerful face on even in the midst of puppy pee fire.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Tips on Housebreaking a Puppy

The best thing I found was crate-training at night, and when you're away from home. I didn't keep my dog crated when I was home with him, I locked him in the kitchen the first week, staying in there to play with him. On the second week we slowly let him have more freedom in the house.

We were always watching, and after all activity (sleeping, eating, playing) took him out right away. I took him out as much as every 15-30 minutes. We took him out the same door always, out to the same spot (by a big field we have beside our yard), said 'go potty, go potty' (he's 2 now, and still goes to the same area to poop) and petted/praised like crazy when he did (good BOY, good potty!) Then right back inside....no playing right after potty. If we played, it was inside, then back out to play, so he'd 'get it' that that trip out was for potty alone. When you pair whatever words (like "go potty") to the action, I think it helps...and he'd go potty on command after awhile. That's nice when you're getting ready to go somewhere in the car, and need him to go!

If he had accidents when in the crate, I never scolded...never. Just cleaned everything up. Nature's Miracle worked wonders for me; it cleans spots and odors great. We would never rub the puppy's nose in it if there were accidents in the house. That's what worked for me.

~Donna C., owner of Labrador Retriever

The Key to Housebreaking is Supervision

Try putting him on his leash and attaching it to your belt. The key to housetraining is supervision - constant and vigilant supervision. When he starts to sniff or circle, tell him "outside" or whatever (but try not to startle him), and whisk him outside. If he potties outside, reward him with treats and praise as soon as he finishes - don't wait 'til you come inside.

If you discover an accident after-the-fact, don't scold - it's your responsibility to keep him from having that opportunity. Just clean the spot well and use an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate the scent.

If you can't directly supervise him, confine him to his crate or x-pen - every opportunity he gets to eliminate inside is a setback.

posted by a guest

Set the alarm and get up early

We received our pup (a Yorkie-poo) when he was 8 weeks old. For the first three nights, I set the alarm to get up every two hours to let him out. By the fourth night, he was waking me up at 5:30 a.m.

Now, at 11 weeks, he goes to bed in his kennel around 10:30 p.m. and sleeps through to 6 a.m. We still have the odd accident, but that's our fault for ignoring his signs. It cost me a couple of hours' sleep at the outset, but the result has been well worth it.

~Glen B., owner of a Yorkie-poo

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