Consistency and diligence are the most important factors in house training your new puppy, particularly in the first four months of life.
I do not advise paper training because it tends to confuse the puppy and makes them think it’s okay to go potty in the house. Instead, I prefer a direct house training method, which requires you to be nearby to supervise and reward good habits from the beginning. The process is extremely time-intensive, usually taking 4-6 weeks starting at 8-10 weeks old.
Your puppy especially needs to go out after napping and eating. You may need to take young puppies out hourly during the day, when they are playing and drinking a lot.
Take your pup to the same outside area each time and be sure not to distract them once they start sniffing, other than to say their name and, “Go tinkle” (or whatever cue word you want to use). Once the puppy begins to eliminate, praise them in a soft, quiet voice and be extremely enthusiastic once they have completed their business. Rewarding positive behavior is key. Immediate encouragement is necessary for your pup to learn to eliminate in an acceptable area.
Even if house training your puppy is going well, remember: Accidents happen. Puppies don’t really get reliable control of their bladders until they’re about six months old. Punishment for going in the wrong place will not speed up the process — in fact, it will cause more problems than it solves. The last thing you want is for the puppy to associate pottying in front of you with punishment, as this will cause they to hold it in when you take them out and then relieve themselves inside once your back is turned.
Give your puppy frequent opportunities to do the right thing and reward them consistently for doing so. When — not if — they make a mistake inside, simply clean it up and remember to take them out more frequently in the future.
Another way to speed up house training and prevent damage to your home is to utilize a crate.
This copyrighted article first appeared in the Residences section of The Palm Beach Post. It may have been updated since its original publication.