Housebreaking a puppy can be a challenging and frustrating task. Luckily, dog expert Cesar Millan, star of National Geographic Channel’s popular Dog Whisperer show, has shared his secrets on how to successfully housebreak a puppy.
1. Be Consistent: this is the first and most important rule on how to housebreak a puppy. You must be consistent and patient in order to successfully train your puppy. If you decide to feed your puppy at a certain time, you must keep it that way. If you decide to walk your puppy at a certain time, you must keep it that way. This way, the puppy will learn to adjust to your routine and will expect to be fed and walked at certain times.
2. Follow Indoor Rules: puppies tend to become anxious when they are first left alone at home. To prevent him from chewing on furniture or making a mess out of your living room, start by putting him in a crate or an enclosed area for the first days when he is left alone. “It’s important to introduce short periods of alone time as puppies” Millan says. “It prevents separation anxiety from becoming a problem as they get older.” You can also use Wee-Wee Pads occasionally for the first couple of days to prevent an accident from happening, but do not let this become a habit. Instead, alternate between indoor and outdoor bathroom habits.
3. Schedule Potty Breaks: the best time for puppies to go outside is during the morning. However, there are also several other times throughout the day that Millan suggests for a potty break: immediately after each meal, after waking up from a nap and after long play sessions. Moreover, studies show that puppies should be able to hold their bladders for every month of life plus one, so if your puppy is three months old, he should be capable of “holding it” for four hours. Unfortunately, this means that at the beginning your puppy won’t be able to hold it in for long, but don’t give up. “With patience and persistence from you, this period should not last long,” Millan says.
4. Keep Your Cool: if your puppy has an accident, remain calm and teach your puppy the “right way.” If you catch your puppy in mid-act in your home, distract him with a light touch or sound, pick him up and take him outdoors.
5. Clean Up Quickly: Millan suggests to be prepared and have the cleaning tools available for any accidents. Swiffer Wet Clothes are a great option to clean up after your puppy. For soft surfaces, he suggests a natural stain and odor remover that will help break down smells and stains in soiled areas. This is an especially important step because “If your dog associates the scent of waste with an area in your home, he may become accustomed to using that area as a toilet in the future,” he says.
6. Stay Focused: according to Millan, most dogs can be housebroken by the time they are 10 months old, but every dog is different. The amount of time it takes also depends on the owner, and the level of commitment and consistency. “An attentive owner who sets boundaries and limitations, and utilizes tools like crates, baby gates and pee pads, should be able to accomplish this in less than a couple of weeks,” Millan says. With some focus and determination, your puppy should be housebroken in no time.