How to Housetrain Your Puppy – and Keep Your Home Clean in the Process

There are over 83 million pet dogs in the United States, many of whom are considered part of the family. A furry, four-legged part, but nonetheless a valued companion, a trusted friend, and, at times, a prime mess-maker. Housetraining your dog is often a top priority; no one likes getting up in the morning and being greeted by a cold puddle after all. Is it difficult to “potty train” a dog? And how can you deal with the inevitable accidents that occur during the process?

Good Dog! Housetraining Tips for Pet Owners

Puppy owners, take heart. House training your pet is usually far easier and quicker than potty training a child! But, like a child, he has to develop the muscles to control his bladder and bowels. You can’t expect, for instance, a 3-week old puppy, to hold it for eight hours while you go to work. He just can’t do it!

  • As a general rule, a puppy can control his bladder one hour for every month.  A four month old will be able to hold it for four hours; a six month old for six hours, and so on. Many people recommend that you should not leave your dog for longer than 8 hours, even as an adult. While you want to walk your dog frequently (not just for bathroom breaks but for exercise and stimulation), you certainly want to time them within this window as well. Also, take him out after meals and water breaks.
  • As a general rule, your dog may not follow general rules. He may develop at a different rate, and that’s ok. It may take him a little longer to control his bladder and bowels. Be patient; he will get there.
  • Create a schedule and keep it consistent. Try to feed your dog at the same time each day. He will get used to eating during those times, and it gives his body a chance to adapt to the routine. He’ll be able to “go” at the same time each day.
  • Put the water up at night. Why make it harder on yourself? If you leave the water dish down, your puppy is going to wake you up with a cold nose. About 2-3 hours before bed, put his water up where he can’t reach it. He might still need a quick walk (keep it all business, otherwise he’ll want a game of fetch while you’re up), but most pups can sleep for about 6-7 hours.
  • Pick a “bathroom.” Many people have a designated area for their dog to relieve himself. If you keep this consistent, you can train your dog to go more quickly. That way, you can take him on a big walk or have play time after he’s done his business. It’s a reward for his good work!
  • Be on the lookout for signs. Your dog may whine, scratch at the door, sniff around, circle, bark, or nudge you repeatedly! That’s his way of saying, “I gotta go.” Listen to him!
  • Praise him. What dog doesn’t love a nice treat? But petting and gentle verbal praise is always welcome too.

Accidents Happen

Accidents happen; that’s all there is to it. Expect that, as you teach him, your dog’s bladder may get the better of him. If you’re prepared, there’s no need to get angry or frustrated. Just clean it up (maybe take the dog out first!). What’s the best way to treat accidents?

Use a safe, non-toxic cleaner. This is important because you will use it on carpets, flooring, and furniture – the same surfaces you, your pets, and your children are in contact with all the time. Also opt for a dual-pronged approach: enzymes and Ordenone.

Enzymes are little stain-eaters. They break down organic messes – everything from urine and blood to wine and chocolate – to remove stains completely. Now, because you want the smell gone instantly, you need Ordenone.

This ingredient captures malodors and puts a bubble around them. The smell is contained until the enzymes can break the organic matter down completely. This has another purpose besides helping your house smell much better: it keeps the dog from thinking that this spot on the carpet or that spot under your dining room table is his “bathroom” and that he’s free to go anytime.

With patience, consistency, and praise, puppies tend to be quick learners. And for those times when you’re not quick enough with the leash, a good cleaner is there to save the day.