Housebreaking your Puppy Starts on Day One
When you bring home a new puppy, petting and playing with him is the easy part. What may not be so straightforward is the need to enforce the rules of the household right away, and that includes teaching him where to eliminate. A puppy will learn new behaviors more quickly when he is consistently sent the same message from his leader (that’s you!). Where he is supposed to eliminate should be an unvarying lesson your puppy is taught from the moment he arrives at his new home. Many dog owners teach young puppies to eliminate on puppy pads to make housebreaking easier.
A supply of puppy pads should be on hand before the puppy is brought home. When you arrive home with your new puppy, have the puppy pads already situated in the area(s) where you want the puppy to eliminate. Take him directly to the pad, sit him on it and praise him. This will ensure that he knows where the pad is located, allow him to pick up its scent and help give him a positive association with the pad.
The first step to housebreaking with puppy pads is teaching your pup what you want him to do there, and the second is helping him understand to do so every time. To teach a puppy that a puppy pad is for eliminating, use positive reinforcement. Learn to watch for signs that the puppy needs to use the bathroom, such as sniffing or turning around. Carry him to the pad when he is exhibiting these behaviors, as well as first thing in the morning and after he eats or drinks water. In the early stages, the puppy should be placed on the pad frequently. The first time he eliminates on the pad, and each time thereafter, praise him like he just did the greatest thing in the world.
Even with the convenience of using puppy pads to help train your pup, accidents will happen. The manner in which you deal with accidents can help or hurt your house training efforts. When the puppy has an accident, say “no” firmly, during the act, and carry him to the puppy pad. Praise him while he is on the puppy pad so that you do not give him a negative association that could make him avoid the pad. Send a consistent message every time, and he will soon learn that eliminating on the puppy pad is the desirable behavior, encouraging him to repeat that behavior.
One of the challenges of housebreaking a puppy is that once he urinates in the wrong spot, the scent of the urine in that area will drive him to want to go there again. When that spot is on your sofa, bed or carpet, housebreaking can become more frustrating and costly. However, if he is taught to use a puppy pad from day one, housebreaking becomes easier. This is not to say there will be no accidents, but the sooner he is taught what to do, the sooner he will stop eliminating in undesirable areas.
A common mistake new puppy owners make is allowing the pup to do as he pleases because he is so young, innocent and, let’s face it, irresistibly cute. Enforcing rules on such an adorable puppy may not feel like the most natural thing to do for us humans, but it is critical for the puppy to learn what is expected of him. Attempting to reverse bad habits is more difficult than creating good ones to begin with, which is why house training should begin from the moment you arrive home with your new best friend.
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