When you get a new puppy, there are so many important things that you must begin working on right away. Socializing your puppy and housebreaking him are most likely towards the top of you list. As we’ve already discussed, many PetParents choose to crate train their new puppies which gives them a leg-up in the housebreaking department. If you’re planning on crate training or interested in learning about it, see our crate training guide.
First things first, just know you’ll be spending lots of your time these first few weeks outdoors, encouraging your puppy to go potty in the appropriate places. It’s all just a part of the housebreaking process. All this outdoor time is a great opportunity to begin bonding with your puppy, and building a trusting and loving relationship. Keep in mind that your puppy is likely to be nervous and perhaps a bit whiney during the first few days at home as they adjust from separation from their litter mates. Be a source of love and comfort to them during this trying time, and you’ll be on your way to a strongly bonded companion for life.
Get a routine.
Dogs love a good routine, knowing what to expect. Set up a routine with your new puppy and stick to it. It’s not only the best way to help them be housebroken, it leads to a well-adjusted and happy dog. Use your cell phone alarm to remind you each time it’s time to take puppy out until it just becomes second nature. By finding a routine that works and sticking to it, you’re eliminating so much work for the both of you.
Put a command to it.
Just like with basic obedience or tricks, your puppy recognizes a word- the command- and then responds with the desired action. There’s no reason you can’t have their bathroom breaks be put on a command too! This makes travel a breeze when you’re needing to make a quick pit-stop and hit the road. To teach your puppy to eliminate on command- you’ll need treats, a positive attitude, and a watchful eye. Decide what you want the command to be, we use ‘go potty’. When you see your puppy begin to eliminate outdoors, say ‘go potty’ in an encouraging voice, and praise him excitedly when he’s done. Offer a treat to solidify the behavior.
Puppy see, puppy do.
If you’ve got an adult dog at home who’s already housebroken, this will give you quite an advantage on housebreaking your new puppy. Puppies naturally emulate their older canine companions, and simply by observing and smelling where your older dogs go is a helpful step. Praise them happily each time they eliminate in the correct place, and reward with a small bit of tasty treat.
As your puppy ages, the time that he’ll be able to ‘hold it’ will naturally increase. Here’s a general guideline of how long you can expect your puppy to hold his bladder based upon his age:
Puppy Age Time between potty breaks
2 months old 3 hours
3 months old 4 hours
4 months old 5 hours
6 months old 7 hours
7 months+ 8 hours
*Keep in mind that these are simply general guidelines. Each dog is an individual, and this does vary by breed. No dog should be asked to hold his bladder longer than 8 hours- no matter his age. *
Housebreaking your puppy is an intense time commitment for a few weeks, with benefits that pay off for the life of your pet.