Teaching your dog to be potty-trained requires patience and consistency. Expect--and don't punish--accidents; they'll happen. Training should be a positive experience. As a rule of thumb, puppies can control their bladders for one hour per month of age. Most pooches can be housebroken within a few weeks to one month.
Get your puppy on a feeding routine and don't provide food outside scheduled meal times. This helps establish regularity for your dog's elimination needs. Exceptions can be made for the occasional treat to reinforce training efforts. Empty her water dish about two hours before bedtime, too, to prevent the need to urinate overnight.
Bring your puppy outside hourly, or at least once every two hours once she reaches two months of age. Lead her by leash to the potty--the spot where you want her to relieve herself. Also, take your dog outside to her potty first thing in the morning, right before bedtime and after eating and playtime.
Reward your dog with lots of praise and/or a treat when she goes where she's supposed to go. Take the treat along with you when you go out so you can give the reward immediately. If you wait until you go in, too much time elapses for your puppy to associate the yumminess with her good potty behavior.
Keep a close eye on your doggie indoors. Watch for signs she needs to go potty, like pacing, circling, whining, scratching at a door and sniffing at the floor. Training depends in large part on your ability to get her outside when she has to pee or poop. Have your leash and treats handy at all times so you can grab them quickly and rush out.
Confine your puppy when you can't watch her closely. A crate is the best option, but confining your dog to a small room with a doggie gate works, too. She'll try hard not to go to the bathroom in a small space, which helps her learn to hold it.
Clap twice strongly or say "no" in a firm voice if your pooch begins going to the bathroom inside or in the wrong place outside. Don't try to scare her; just interrupt her. Promptly usher her to the appropriate place. Reward her with praise and a treat for finishing in the right spot.
Clean up accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser. The lingering scent of urine or feces will encourage your pooch to return to the same spot for elimination.
- If you don't have a crate or a good space to confine your puppy during potty training, keep her close to you on a leash instead.
- If you punish your doggie for accidents, she won't become better housebroken, she'll just become afraid of eliminating in front of you. She'll simply go to the bathroom in less obvious places in your home.
- Treats make great rewards during training, but they also add significant calories into your puppy's diet and can easily cause unhealthy weight gain. Use them sparingly, and offer lavish praise and attention as a reward sometimes.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.