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House Training 101

Getting to success

Question

I just brought home a puppy this winter and can’t seem to get her house trained. What do I do?

Answer

Congratulations on your new family member! I hope she brings your family lots of joy and love for many years to come. House training shouldn’t be too hard, but it is time consuming. The trick is consistency.

First rule, follow the puppy rule of age: for every one month of age, your puppy can hold her bladder for one hour. A two-month-old puppy can only hold her bladder for two hours at most. For most dogs, this rule works until the dog is about four to five months old. Then you can start helping your puppy learn to hold it longer. This means you will need to provide your puppy with potty breaks every two to three hours for the next couple months; even at night.

The second rule of house training is supervision. Keep eyes on your puppy at all times. If you can’t do so, he needs to be crated or confined to an area where he can’t get in to trouble. Baby gates or play pens are a great way to keep your puppy in the same room as you so you can watch for the circling and sniffing that most dogs do when they need to potty. If your dog sneaks off and potties away from you, just clean it up with an enzyme-based cleaner and move on. Don’t make a big deal of accidents and don’t punish your puppy for mistakes. That will only teach him to hide when he needs to potty.

The third rule of house training is to go outside with your puppy on a leash. Yes, even if you have a fenced in yard. Give your puppy 15 minutes to potty, and if she doesn’t go, bring her back in and put her in her crate. Repeat every 30 minutes until she has gone potty outside. When your dog pees and poops outside, reward with a treat right away while still outside, then let her play. This helps a puppy learn potty happens right away and prevents spending 30 or more minutes outside playing without doing her business.

Follow these steps and you should have a house trained puppy in no time.

Ask the Experts

Got a pet-related question? Call our Pet Help Line to receive free advice and to connect to local pet resources, (502) 509-4PET or visit kyhumane.org/help. The Kentucky Humane Society’s Pet Help Line is made possible by grants from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and the Banfield Foundation. The Pet Help Line is designed to help keep pets in their homes and out of shelters by giving pet owners the tools they need to have healthy relationships with their pets.