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House training your Puppy or Untrained Adult Dog

House training (potty training) should start as soon as you adopt your puppy (or untrained adult dog).

House training is a process that takes effort, dedication and patience. Despite your best efforts, there are likely to be some “accidents” during the process. By following these simple recommendations, most puppies can be successfully housetrained. You can consider house training successful once there are no indoor accidents for at least two consecutive months.

Create an elimination schedule and environment:

  • Start a set feeding schedule, puppies usually have to eliminate within 30 minutes of eating.

  • Take puppy out on schedule using the same route, and go to the same spot for each trip. Take him out on a leash so he doesn’t get distracted and want to play, once he has gone, give him some play time. Praise or reward your puppy immediately following an appropriate outdoor elimination.

  • When confining a dog, a good rule of thumb for how long they can hold their bladder is: the puppy’s age in months, plus one, equals the number of hours. For example, a 4 month old puppy could probably hold his bladder 5 hrs. in an appropriately sized kennel.

Learn elimination signs and triggers:

  • Watch for signs like walking around, sniffing floor, suddenly stopping play and walking away. They usually have to go immediately following eating, drinking, playing and sleeping

Minimize opportunities for accidents:

  • Use strict supervision in the house so there is minimal opportunity for your puppy to have accidents. The puppy needs to be watched 100 percent of the time by a responsible family member. If puppy starts to eliminate inside, quickly take the puppy outside and praise him for finishing outside.

  • If you are not able to closely supervise, confine your pet in a small safe area such as a crate. If you must leave your puppy for periods longer than they can hold urine or feces, leave the puppy in a larger area such as a small room and provide an elimination spot away from bedding and water.

Things to avoid:

  • Do not punish your puppy for elimination discovered in the house, after the fact. Scolding the dog for eliminating will usually cause them to hide from you when they go.

  • Do not put your puppy in a small area such as a crate if you are going to exceed your puppy’s ability to physically hold it for that long.

  • Do not physically discipline your puppy by swatting or rubbing his face in a mess. These techniques may negatively impact your dog’s relationship with people.

If a previously housetrained dog starts having accidents, it’s time for a vet visit. I hope these tips are helpful and happy house training!

Please contact me with any questions at 480-652-4900 or email

Kathy Fabish, Pet Services of Ocean Isle Beach

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