Adopting a new dog is such a fun, exciting time. But it can also be challenging, as you’re both getting to know each other and your new life together. A common source of frustration for new dog owners is housetraining. If you adopted a puppy or an adult dog that’s not fully housetrained, one of the first things you need to teach him is how to go to the bathroom outside. Even fully housetrained dogs will need a reintroduction to the basics when moving into a new home. There are three keys to success when housetraining your dog:
Feed your dog at the same times every day. Developing a consistent feeding schedule makes it easier to predict when your dog will need to relieve himself. Puppies usually need to go within 20-30 minutes after eating, so be ready to take him outside during this time.
Use the same door to take him outside every time. Eventually he may go to that door and sniff, whine or paw at the door to tell you he needs to go outside.
Take him outside to the same spot every time. Choose an encouraging phrase, like “go potty” or “it’s potty time”, and say it each time he’s in this spot. He will eventually associate this phrase with the act of relieving himself. If he does go, give him lots of praise, and then bring him back inside. If he doesn’t go after 2-3 minutes, bring him inside and try again within an hour, watching for signs that he needs to go.
Dogs consistently need to relieve themselves after certain activities throughout the day: when they wake up in the morning, after naps, after playing, after meals and after drinking water. Be sure to take him outside at each of these times and right before bedtime to prevent accidents.
Watch your dog closely for signs that he needs to go out. Common signs are whining, walking in circles or squatting. If he begins to go inside, interrupt and move him outside immediately.
Don’t leave your dog unsupervised for too long. To determine how long your puppy can “hold it”, take his age in months and add one. For example, a 2-month-old puppy should be able go 3 hours without any accidents. For young puppies, this means you will need to take him outside during the night, and, if you work outside the home, you will need to come home to take him outside during the day.
Your dog will have accidents, and you will get upset. However, it’s very important to stay calm, yet firm. This phase can be frustrating, but it won’t last forever. Never hit or punish your dog for accidents. Do not rub your dog’s nose in his accident, either. He won’t connect his action to your reaction, so punishing him after the fact may cause confusion and fear.
In most cases, if you are consistent, patient, and supervise your dog closely, he will learn to go outside. But if your dog isn’t making any progress with regular training techniques, you may need to ask your veterinarian or a pet behavior specialist.
Good luck, and welcome to pet parenthood. You’ve got this!