Three core steps to house-train your puppy or dog.

1. Reward

First, in order to increase the desired behavior (your puppy eliminating outdoors), you will need to reinforce the behavior. Accompany him outside and praise and reward with a treat after he goes.

It’s better to wait until he finishes completely, otherwise your praise might interrupt and prevent your puppy from emptying his bladder, but each time he does go, praise and reward. The more correct behaviors rewarded, the stronger the appropriate behavior will emerge.

2. Manage

Second, manage your puppy indoors by limiting his freedom around the house, essentially setting him up to have no opportunities to eliminate inside the home. This strategy should be done simultaneously with step one.

Since puppies are less likely to eliminate in their space (with food, water, toys, and bed), create an area with these things to restrict their movement around the house.

This can involve setting up a puppy proofed room, utilizing a crate, or “tethering” (having your puppy on a leash attached to a harness, following you around for the day – although this is a more passive strategy where the puppy could still go while next to you, if your attention is elsewhere.

3. Redirect

After a few weeks of implementing steps 1 and 2, then allow your puppy to have more freedom around the house, while you actively supervise, to give you the opportunity to observe when your puppy starts to eliminate, to interrupt and redirect him to go outside the home. Make sure to continue rewarding the desried behavior with treats.

It’s important to build up a history of rewarding your puppy for going in the appropriate place (step 1), and preventing opportunities for mistakes inside (step 2), before working on step 3. If you start with step 3, it can scare your puppy, and lead to your puppy avoiding going while you are around. Instead your puppy will find secret places hidden from your view to go, making it more difficult to house-train.

Any questions? Let us know in the comment section below.

By Dan Raymer, CTC, BS

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