1. Take puppy outside every hour (or even every 45 minutes) to give him the opportunity to go to the toilet in the right place. Ignore him if he wants to play, let him sniff (sniffing start the process) and stay outside for 6-7 minutes to give him a good chance to go. It may seem like hard work to go out so often but it really does give him the biggest chance of success which means he will understand where to go much more quickly. Use the timer on your smart phone to remind you to take him out regularly.
2. In addition to taking him out every hour, take him out every time he wakes up, after every session of play, after he’s eaten or drunk water, when he sniffs the floor or shows signs of going.
3. When he goes to the toilet outside – give him a yummy treat (fresh chicken or similar – we want him to know he’s doing something great) and praise him. He will want to repeat this once he realises he gets reinforced for going in the right place.
4. It is really important that he doesn’t get told off for going inside – he will only learn that he should not go when you are present and will instead try to go behind the sofa and in other places. If you catch him mid act just pick him up and take him outside without saying a word.
5. Add a cue word to him going. When he starts to go the toilet (in the right place) say ‘get busy’ or ‘go toilet’ (you decide, but everyone must use the same word). This puts going to the toilet on cue and he will eventually (this will take time but does work) go when you ask him to go. This is very useful for when you are travelling or visiting someone’s house.
6. Clean everywhere he has been inside with an enzyme cleaner (you can buy these at pet stores or online). Biological washing powder may work too – this gets rid of the smells which they associate with going to the toilet. Don’t use disinfectant and bleach as these accentuate the smell of the urine and so increase the chances of the puppy going again in that area.
7. Watch, Watch, and Watch some more! If you have taken him outside and he hasn’t gone to the toilet, bring him in and watch him like a hawk. Ideally, he would be confined to a small area (crate or play pen) so you can prevent mistakes and then take him out 10 minutes later. If he doesn’t go, repeat this until he does. When he does finally go, reward him with tasty treat and lots of praise. You can now relax as he’s not likely to go again for a while!
8. Keeping a log of when he has toileted is helpful – especially if there are a few people in the household who are sharing duties to take him out – try setting up a WhatsApp group to easily share records of when he has last toileted. You should start to see a pattern emerging – especially if you are feeding him at the same time each day.
9. Do not leave the door open for him to go in and out – he will not learn to give you a signal that he needs to go outside (this is often a problem with summer puppies)
10. Think of every accident as being your mistake, rather than the puppy’s
Housetraining is just one of the early challenges of owning a new pup. If you are getting or have recently got a new puppy, book some training sessions with Sean so he can also guide you on socialisation, crate training, how to stop puppy biting, and get your early trainings underway!