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How to house train a puppy in record time

Depending on the breed, a puppy can be house trained in as little as a weekend.
Depending on the breed, a puppy can be house trained in as little as a weekend.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As most owners know, puppies can be as messy as they are cute. But house training can be as simple as clock-watching and praise. Just a few days of intentional training is a small price to pay for a reliably house trained puppy. The Humane Society of the United States advises that "generally speaking, a puppy can control his bladder one hour for every month of age. So if your puppy is two months old, he can hold it for about two hours."

To make it absolutely clear to the puppy that messes go outside, reward him as follows:

  • When: Every single time and immediately after he finishes
  • How: With abundant and enthusiastic praise
  • Where: Outside (if you wait until you're inside, the praise is for coming in and not for going outside).

Set up your puppy for a successful training experience with these helpful tips:

  • Consistency. A regular feeding schedule equals predictable potty times. Go out every two hours and immediately after waking, playing, eating or drinking.
  • Timing. Remove water two or three hours before bedtime to minimize nighttime potty trips outside. Keep nighttime trips quick and calm so he doesn't think it's playtime.
  • Awareness. When indoors keep your puppy by your side on a leash so you can see the first signs that he needs to go. If he gets restless, sniffs or circles, immediately take him outside. If he's started to squat, pick him up and run outside so at least part of it lands outdoors where it belongs.
  • Confinement. If you're leaving the house, place the puppy in an area small enough that he won't want to use it as a bathroom. A crate is ideal so he has just enough space to comfortably stand, lie down, and turn around. As soon as you return, greet him calmly and immediately take him outside. If you come home to a mess, keep calm and immediately take him outside for a chance to do it right.
  • Corrections. Accidents happen and when they do it's too late to correct. Calmly clean it up and do a good job so there's no familiar smell to return to next time. You can even placed the mess outside in the area you'd like him to use and the smell will help him find the spot next time.

The key to a quick and stress-free training experience can be summed up with what I call the "3 P's of Potty Training":

  1. Patience: Keep emotions out of it to help your puppy focus on the task at hand.
  2. Praise: Reward with praise immediately after success and with lots of enthusiasm.
  3. Priority: Invest the attention required now and you can relax and enjoy a lifetime of mess-free pet ownership.

However hard you think training is, a lifetime of floor cleaning and frustration is far harder and less rewarding. So just keep calm and train on!

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