posted 04/17/14


For many new puppy owners, housetraining proves to be the biggest challenge.  But housetraining doesn’t need to be a big battle if you start immediately when you get your pup and work consistently, guiding him into good habits.  Follow these tips and you’ll have your pup trained in no time.

PICK A SPOT  Before you bring your pup home, decide where you want his bathroom area to be.  Pick a spot that’s quick and easy to get to and has few exciting sights, sounds and smells.  This way, you can take your pup to that spot quickly, and he won’t be distracted.

START IMMEDIATELY  When you arrive home with your new puppy, immediately take him to his predetermined potty place.  Stand there with him until he goes, praise him, and then let him sniff around for a few minutes so he can get familiar with it.  If you take the puppy to the approved area before he enters your home for the first time, it will prevent an immediate accident and lay the groundwork for a positive habit.

GIVE HIM A MINUTE  After your pup has used his bathroom area, allow him to remain there and sniff around a bit longer.  Many pups will urinate more than once before finishing.  Also, pups will often urinate, and then a few minutes later defecate.  Once inside, watch him closely for another 10 minutes or so.  Sometimes pups won’t quite finish the whole job while in their bathroom area.  If you see this pattern, keep your pup in the area a little longer than you have been, so this kind of accident doesn’t reoccur.

KEEP ON TRACK  Leash your puppy when you take him to the selected area.  This helps keep him focused on the job at hand by preventing him from wandering off to explore or trying to go back inside.  To keep your pup focused, limit these outings to going to the bathroom.  He needs to know that potty time isn’t for playing or exploring the yard.  If you allow him to explore and play, he will likely forget to go until he calms down—when he is back in the house.

ADD A CUE  Teach your puppy a verbal cue, something like ”Go potty,” or “Get busy.”  If your puppy knows a cue, you can tell him when and where to eliminate, whether at home or away.  When your pup relives himself in the appropriate area, praise him and include his bathroom cue, for example, “Good go potty.”  This will help him learn the cue.  Praise calmly and quietly so you don’t excite him or he may stop midstream and not finish until back in the house.

GET THERE FIRST  You need to take your puppy to his bathroom area immediately after he wakes, eats, drinks, plays and greets visitors or family.  Pups under 12 weeks have very little time between these events and their need to go to the bathroom.  Make meeting your pup’s needs at these times a high priority.

LET HIM RING   Pups often have accidents simply because they don’t know how to tell you when they need to go out.  Hang a bell on a sturdy cord from the door that leads to his bathroom area.  Each time you take your pup outdoors to eliminate, ring the bell just before you open the door.  He will associate the bell ringing with the door opening and will soon try it himself.  It may take two days to two weeks for him to figure this out.  When you do hear that bell ring, hurry to your pup and take him out immediately.

RESPECT DINNERTIME   Feed your pup regularly scheduled meals, rather than leaving food out all the time.  Eating on a fixed schedule tends to result in a regular elimination schedule.  This will help you anticipate his potty needs and help him develop good habits.  If he nibbles all day, he’ll go to the bathroom at unpredictable times.

DO NIGHT DUTY  Many pups over 10 weeks can make it through eight nighttime hours without relieving themselves.  But that assumes that you take your pup to his potty area right before you go to bed-even if you have to wake him-and first thing when he awakens in the morning.  If the puppy has accidents during the night despite taking him out both late and early, set your alarm for 3 or 4 a.m. and take him out then.

CRATE HIM RIGHT  When you must leave you pup unattended during the day for up to three hours or during the night, keep him safely out of trouble by bedding him down in his crate with an interesting chew toy.  Puppies normally prefer not to eliminate where they sleep or eat, so most will not soil their crates.  But give him ample opportunity to relieve himself before you put him in his crate.  If your puppy does urinate of defecate in his crate that usually means he couldn’t wait any longer.  Don’t get angry with him.  Next time shorten the time you leave him in his crate.  Keep a leash right next to your puppy’s crate so you can take him to his bathroom spot immediately upon awakening or when you return after an absence.

LEARN YOUR CUES  As your puppy approaches 12 weeks of age, he’ll start to indicate that he needs to go to the bathroom.  He may walk in a small circle, pace back and forth, sniff a spot where he’s eliminated before, look at the door, leave the room, or suddenly break off play and seem to search for something invisible.  When your pup does any of these behaviors, immediately leash him and take him to his approved spot.

KEEP IT CLEAN  Thoroughly clean up any accidents.  Otherwise, the scent will entice your pup to eliminate there again.  Use an enzyme-based cleaner or a solution made specifically for removing pet stains.

If you’re watchful and consistent, housetraining your pup will go quickly and smoothly.  Keep paper towels and cleaner handy; you’ll need them at first.  But soon your pup will learn there is a proper place to relieve himself and that you’ll help him get there in time.



Nipping and mouthing is a very common and normal puppy behavior.  When puppies play with each other, they use their mouths, so they tend to do the same thing when they interact with people.  This is rarely an aggressive behavior intended to harm you, but it can be a difficult habit to break.  The worst thing you can do is physically punish your puppy for this natural behavior.  Most normal puppy mouthiness just goes away on its own, once puppies get their adult teeth.  Instead of punishment, the use of distraction and the encouragement of acceptable behavior are much better approaches.

Nipping or biting often occurs in puppies when they are being petted or played with.  A quick and easy method for redirecting your puppies attention is to offer a more acceptable object to chew on, at the same time as you start to pet him.  One hand offers the toy while the other hand reaches out to pet him.  This helps your puppy learn that people and petting are good, and also keeps his mouth busy.  Try alternating which hand does the petting and which one offers the chew toy.  The longer he is petted, the more likely he is to get excited and nip, so keep the play sessions short initially.

When your puppy does nip you, make a high pitched “yipping” noise--or  say “OUCH!” loudly and immediately walk away.  Ignoring your puppy for a few minutes teaches him that biting you makes you go away, which is an immediate negative reinforcement for the behavior.  You can return a little later and try playing again.

It is generally not a good idea to sit on the floor with your puppy for prolonged periods of time.  This tends to overexcite puppies, making it more difficult to control them.

Here are a few tips to help encourage appropriate play:

Provide plenty of exercise.  Your new puppy is a bundle of energy.  Going for short but frequent walks is a great way to burn off some of this energy and gives him an appropriate outlet for all that motion.

Play, play, play.  Playing fetch or kicking a ball around the yard helps him burn off some energy, while strengthening your parent-pup bond.

Obedience training.  Teach and review basic obedience commands early on.  Well-trained dogs are more likely to follow orders.

Time out.  If your puppy won’t stop bad behavior, put him in a room or his crate with toys to keep him busy until he calms down.

You are the leader.  You can teach your puppy that you are the boss by having him respond to a command, such as “sit,” before he gets what he wants or needs, i.e.; meal time.
If he becomes too pushy about getting attention by whining or nudging, pull your hands away and look away.  Once he stops soliciting attention for 10 seconds, ask him to sit.  Then give him attention and affection.  Do not reward annoying or bad behavior. 

Be consistent.  It is very important that all behaviors be managed consistently by ALL the family members.

Promote socialization.  Exposure to a variety of people and other animals as the puppy grows and develops, especially during the first 4 months, will help prevent asocial behaviors, fears and biting.

You should carefully monitor all interactions between children and your puppy.  It is very difficult for children under the age of eight or nine to practice the kind of behavior modification listed above.  A child’s first reaction to being nipped is probably to push the puppy away, and this will  be interpreted by the puppy as play, causing him to nip and bite even more.  By teaching your puppy good behavior, your pup will grow into a well-behaved and happy part of the family.







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