Bringing a new puppy home to the family is always an exciting time, especially when you have kids at home who can't wait for the new arrival. However, a new puppy always comes with a few training challenges, especially if they've picked up some bad habits from the pet store.
One of those challenges is toilet training. You work hard to keep your home a clean and healthy place for your family, and a new puppy in the house can quickly derail all your efforts without the proper training.
We've put together our top five tips to help you out with your brand new four legged friend, and get them house trained in no time. If disaster strikes - no problem! We've got that covered too.
1. Learn your pup's routine and signals
There's only so much a pup can be expected to learn on its own, and truth be told a lot of the responsibility of successful house training relies on you, the owner. Taking the time to know your pup's habits and learn the signals of when it needs to relieve itself is half the battle! Luckily, when a puppy is young, they're quite predictable and this is reasonably easy to do.
- How do I know when my dog needs to go? Whining, barking, sniffing, circling or scratching at the door are all signs your puppy is letting you know it's time to go. Often, your dog will begin to look around the house for suitable corners to go in, so if you notice any suspicious browsing, that's your cue to whisk your new furry friend outdoors.
- How often do I need to take my puppy outside? When puppies are young, their routines are fairly predictable. The key times that a dog's digestive system is stimulated are: when they wake up from a nap, within fifteen minutes of eating, or when they have something to drink. A good practice to get into is to let your dog outside as soon as they wake up, and right before they sleep for the night. That being said, when a pup is under six months old, it's important to take them outside at least once every hour. You may find writing down your pup's eating times and habits helpful when keeping track of their routine.
2. Focus on commands and praise
When it comes to house training a pup, there's a large list of 'what not to do' and misconceptions. For example, when an accident happens, some people assume that 'rubbing their nose in it' will help the dog learn it's been naughty. This isn't the case - discipline like this will only teach your furry friend to fear you, and young pups find it difficult to associate an accident directly with consequences.
The real secret to fast-tracking training, is to focus on clear commands and praise.
- How can I use commands? Puppies respond to good, clear instructions in a firm tone. When you walk your pup out to do its business, saying a command clearly such as 'go now' or 'toilet' repetitively whilst they are relieving themselves, will help your dog to associate the action with words.
- What's the best way to praise my puppy? Letting your pup know when they've done a good job with love and affection is one of the most effective ways to train them. Every time they go outside, make sure they're rewarded for their efforts and show them a little love - they'll be far more inclined to repeat the behaviour! Scratches and pats are the best form of praise as with food treats you run the risk of overfeeding your puppy. Imagine if they're going 12 times a day - that's a lot of snacks! Of course, mishaps do occur, and when they do make sure to ignore your pup rather than punish it. They'll soon learn what behaviour earns the praise and what gets them the silent treatment.
3. Paper Training
If you live in an apartment building or don't have access to a garden, paper training is a tried and tested method that helps your pup learn where to go indoors.
The method relies on three main facts:
- Puppies learn from repetition and get used to going toilet in spots they've gone before
- Puppies are prompted to relieve themselves by recognising their own scent
- Puppies prefer softer, covered surfaces when they pee, rather than cold floors
All you need is a bunch of newspaper or, if you're willing to part with a little extra coin, you can buy soft puppy training pads or faux grass from a pet store.
The first step is deciding which discreet spot you'd like to dedicate to doggy-doo. When you notice the signs that your puppy needs to go, pick him up and place him on the paper, followed by a verbal cue. They won't know what the word means at first, but after a little praise and repetition, they'll quickly learn that this is the spot to go.
Make sure to keep replacing the paper every time your dog soils it, but to keep a small piece of the old paper to maintain the scent - your pup will know what to do!
4. Crate Training
A solution that takes advantage of your dog's natural instincts as a den animal, crate training is a great way to give your dog a safe and comfortable place to stay, and get them used to staying indoors without needing to go.
In the wild, a dog's den is its home where they find solitude, comfort, hide from danger and raise a family. It's naturally not a place they're inclined to soil.
Here's what to do:
- Introduce your dog to the crate and feed them their regular meals near the crate - they'll learn to associate food and fun with the crate quickly.
- Once your dog is comfortable, move the feeding into their crate and leave them in the crate for a short period of time after their feed.
- Your dog will begin to associate their crate with home, and become more and more comfortable with spending extended periods of time there.
- After a bit of practice with longer crating periods, you'll have a safe place to leave your dog indoors where they're happy, and wont be likely to have any accidents - as opposed to free roaming your home.
Remember, if you have a young pup, it's not recommended to leave them in their crate for any longer than a few hours at a time.
5. Effectively clean when your dog makes a mess
Believe it or not, there's a lot more to cleaning up after a puppy if you want to make sure they don't make the same mistakes. Dog urine is an acidic liquid, and can be difficult to remove from carpets if left too long, as it can cause bleaching.
As dogs respond to their own scent as a cue to go, it's key to remove not just the stain, but any trace of their scent when you clean.
- Begin with applying Stain Remover to the patch on your carpet.
- Blot towards the centre with an absorbent cloth, so not to spread the stain
- Follow up with spraying Odour Remover, to deodourise and disinfect, removing any trace of scent and discouraging your dog from going again.
If you're having trouble removing any stains when training your new pup, we've put together a comprehensive Pet Stain Removal Guide to help you out - download it FREE, here.
Make sure to also check out our Ultimate Guide to Owning a Pet: Everything you need to know.