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- Make Sure Your Puppy Is in Good Health
When starting a housebreaking program, it's important that your pup has a clean bill of health, since digestive and urinary problems can make it nearly impossible for your puppy to become housebroken. Take your pup in for a thorough veterinary exam as soon as possible after bringing her home.
- Start Your Puppy's Housebreaking with a Clean Slate
Your housebreaking program will progress best if you give your pup (and yourself!) a fresh start, so no holding grudges against your puppy for past potty mistakes and no blaming yourself for training errors you've made along the way. Even if your housebreaking program got off to a rocky start, it can be turned around and you can easily get your pup back on the right track.
- Keep It Clean
A big part of housebreaking is just preserving your pup's natural tendency to keep clean. Clean all accidents up with a pet odor neutralizer and give your puppy a bath immediately if she has an accident on herself and gets dirty.
- Praise Your Pup When She Gets It Right
We want going potty in the right place to feel REALLY good for your pup, so be sure that you accompany her to her potty area in the early stages of training so you're there to praise her, pet her and play with her to let her know how great she is when she does the right thing.
- Correct Your Puppy Only When You Catch Her in the Act
Resist the temptation to correct your pup if you find a puddle on the floor. You can only correct her if you catch her having an accident. No overly harsh corrections, please... just say "NO" sharply and take your pup to her potty spot right away so she can finish up.
- Keep Your Puppy on a Schedule
Keeping your pup's meals and potty trips at regular intervals will make it easier to predict when she'll need to go potty. Be sure to give her plenty of trips to her potty spot and take her outside after she naps, plays, eats or drinks.
- Supervise Your Puppy's Free Time in the House
To prevent accidents, directly supervise your pup at all times when she's in the house – unless she's in a crate, exercise pen or other safe confinement area where she won't have accidents. She can have an accident more quickly than you think, so don't let her out of your sight for even a few seconds.
- Watch for Signs that Your Pup Needs to Go Potty
If you pay close attention, you'll probably find that your puppy gives some kind of signal that she needs to go potty. She may sniff the floor, turn in circles, cry, pace or try to get to the door. If you see any of these signs, get her outside immediately.
- Confine Your Pup When You Can't Supervise Her
Your puppy has a natural tendency to not go potty where she sleeps, so when she's alone, she should be in a small confinement area where she's unlikely to have accidents. The area should be just big enough for her to have a comfy place to sleep... if the area is too large, she'll use one end as the bedroom and the other end as the bathroom! Most puppy owners use a crate, an exercise pen or a very small room with a puppy gate to confine their pups. Just remember that your puppy can't be left alone in her confinement area for too long, since that may force her to get in the habit of having accidents while confined. A good rule is to make the maximum number of hours your pup spends in her crate her age in months plus one; for example, an 8-week-old pup can likely be crated for 3 hours after she's been properly acclimated to her crate.
- Teach Your Puppy to Go Potty Promptly on Command
You'll find it helpful to teach your pup a command word like "go potty" so you can tell her when to go. For the first couple of weeks, repeat the command in a quiet, happy voice while she's squatting down going potty. After she's done, praise her lavishly. She'll learn to associate the command word with the act of going potty, and in a few weeks, she'll start going when you give the command!
- To learn everything you need to know about housebreaking your puppy, visit my free housebreaking website, The Housebreaking Bible!