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Housetraining a Puppy: All You Need To Know

Congratulations on the new addition to your family. Housetraining a puppy can be a fun but also challenging experience, especially for first-time pet parents.

We are here to walk you through a step by step process to make your life a little less complicated and your pups’ life a little less stressful throughout the transition.

How long does it take for a puppy to be house trained?

There are a number of things to take into consideration when it comes to how long it takes to house train your puppy.

Especially if your puppy has been purchased, is weaned from their mum and then goes to their new home. Things such as moving to a new home or having to be moved to a different environment can turn your pup's world upside down.

In this situation, it takes some time for them to become accustomed to their new life. They do take time to adjust, get used to their new surroundings and also get used to their new caregiver, ie: you. Spending a lot of time with your furry friend and nurturing them until they come out of their shell is always a good place to start.

With this in mind, it is a good idea for you, the pet owner, to not have any expectations surrounding when your puppy should start achieving things, like us, each and every dog is different.

Generally speaking, however, and all things going exceedingly well, housetraining your puppy typically can take anywhere between 4-8 months.

Different yards for different dogs, the size of the dog also has a contributing factor, with smaller dogs potentially requiring more frequent trips to the fire hydrant.

As with training and creating new habits of any kind, human and animal alike, it all takes time, patience, consistency, repetition and of course, positive reinforcement. Developing a solid routine for your pup is also a really important factor, so working out what works into your schedule and working with your pup to incorporate things that might make it easier for you both is a good place to start.

Can an 8-week old puppy be potty trained?

You can definitely and should, start potty training your puppy from the very beginning if you are the breeder, or if you are a purchaser, as soon as you bring puppy home.

It is important to note that puppies have very short attention spans, and potty training of any kind takes a lot of patience and positive reinforcement as mentioned earlier.

Puppies, as a general rule, have little to no control over their bladder and bowel movements until around the 12 weeks of age mark. It’s very much a case of when you gotta go, you gotta go up until this point, but it doesn’t hurt to start putting training into practise.

From here on in, they still have very little control, but it is slowly developing. Full bladder and bowel control kicks in between 4-8 months, depending on the individual.

When to begin house training puppy?

Start house training your puppy from the very beginning. This could mean if you are the breeder, as soon as they start toddling around at about 4-6 weeks of age.

If you purchase a new puppy from 8 weeks of age onwards, then it is a good idea to discuss what training they have already had and what the cues and commands are, with the previous owner. It is never too soon to begin house training your puppy, every length of time spent means better bonding and the likelihood of them being trained sooner.

How to house train your puppy

Training your puppy toilet time etiquette can be challenging, but you can make it a rewarding experience for them. Breaking the habit of peeing and pooping inside can be a little tricky, but it is not impossible.

As we mentioned in “can an 8 week old puppy be potty trained”, it is important to understand that your pup doesn’t have the bladder and bowel control that older dogs have. So in the training process, you have to be one step ahead of the puddle as much as possible.

Step 1: Create a routine or schedule for your pooch around them for the following:

  • When they wake up

  • After they eat

  • After play time

  • After any short training session

  • Before going to bed

  • Before anything that could be deemed exciting by your puppy.

Step 2: Have a regular feeding schedule. If you do the same thing at the same time every day, theoretically speaking, your little pal will eventually start going to the loo around the same time every day. Consistency is key.

Step 3: Choose a designated toilet spot and take your puppy outside, always to the same place, regularly during the day – every 1-2 hours is ideal to house train your puppy. While they relieve themselves, choose a command word that corresponds with the deed taking place. You can choose any wording from toilet, potty to blueberry, as long as you always use the same command for the action.

Step 4: Make sure that you are cleaning that spot thoroughly with an enzyme break down spray if you have missed your chance and the puppy has an accident. Where they have gone once, they shall return as this is where they think their potty is. Make sure the cleaning product you use is pet friendly but still has the ability to completely neutralise the odor from the accident before.

Step 5: Avoid using puppy pee pads when potty training your puppy, as this is really only an indicator to your puppy that it is perfectly ok to go inside. When housetraining a puppy, try to get them outside to the designated spot as much as you possibly can.

Step 6: Remember to utilise positive reinforcement. When your little four-legged-friend has finished their business, praise them and make a fuss. Always wait until they are finished so as to not interrupt the serious business going on, as interruptions can lead to partially emptied bladders.

Step 7: Be patient, consistent and practise that praise when they do the right thing. Housetraining your puppy will take time and effort.

Using a crate to house train puppy.

Using a crate to house train puppy is extremely beneficial for a number of reasons that include;

  • Assisting with house/potty training

  • Housebreaking a puppy in an apartment

  • Creates a safe and secure feeling space for your puppy

  • Teaches them to behave should they need to travel

  • Prevents bad behaviour developing.

Crate training your puppy, just like toilet training, should begin early in life, starting at around that 8 weeks of age mark.

Using a crate to house train puppy follows the same principles for how to house train your puppy, except it is in the crate.

Start by introducing your puppy to their new crate and allowing them ample time to familiarise themselves with this new object.

Continue their feeding schedule as normal, except this time you will be feeding them inside their crate.

Using positive reinforcement and making crate time as enjoyable for them as possible, you will eventually be able to introduce a command such as “go to bed” or “crate time” so that they can associate going into their crate with your chosen cue.

Using a crate to house train your puppy should only be done in small increments, to begin with, such as 5 mins. When you are able to leave your little friend in there for that amount of time without them making a fuss, gradually increase the time over time. Your goal should be to teach them that it is ok to be alone inside their safe space for up to half an hour to an hour initially. Then, of course, you can progress from there.

Do’s and don’ts of potty training your puppy.

Potty training your puppy can be a frustrating, yet rewarding experience. It takes a lot of time, patience, consistency and of course, positive reinforcement.

Here is a list of do’s and don’ts of potty training your puppy

  • Do: Use the crate training process, it will make your life easier in the long run

  • Don’t: Yell at your puppy when they have an accident, this can cause them stress in turn causing them to have another accident. Patience is key.

  • Do: Have a designated elimination area when taking them to potty

  • Don’t: Rub their nose in the accident, it doesn’t really teach them anything and is an unpleasant experience you don’t want them associating with you.

  • Do: Pay attention to the subtle or not so subtle cues your puppy will give you in advance to needing to go, act quickly to avoid an accident and praise your puppy after the deed is done.

  • Don’t: Punish your puppy when they have an accident, remember they are just a baby and have little to no control over their bodily functions. Time and patience is again the key.

  • Do: Use a command, cue, keyword when taking them to the potty so they can learn to associate going to do their business with that word.

  • Don’t: Give up too soon, this is a learning process for both you and your pup. Consistently helping them to achieve the goal is paramount to making life easier later in their life.

  • Do: Keep a regular schedule, with everything, consistently repeating the same action and using the same cue over and over will help create habits for your little dog.

I want to get a puppy, but I have to work, how do I train my puppy while I’m away?

Puppies aren’t that dissimilar to babies in that they require time and attention. It is important to evaluate your situation when deciding to buy a pup and also take into consideration their needs and wants.

No little puppy wants to be left hours on their own without attention or affection, and this also sets you up to deal with a multitude of preventable behavioural issues down the track.

If you do work, it is worth considering purchasing, adopting or rescuing an older dog that has the ability to wait for long periods, is crate and or house trained.

If the situation arises and you end up with a little dog, consider a pet sitter to assist you when you are working. If you work part-time and are away from home occasionally, crate training your puppy will assist them with you being away.