House Training Your Dog
House training is one of the most important elements of creating a well-trained dog and trusted family member. More often than not, the number one reason that dogs are surrendered to shelters is because of problems with house training or similar issues. So taking the time to properly house train your dog can literally save his or her life.
The process of house training your new puppy should not be difficult. It is, however, important that you take the process seriously. So plan and take things one step at a time. It is also important to keep in mind that some dogs will be easier to house train than others. For that reason you need to work with your dog. Do not hurry the process as this can be counterproductive and you will most likely have to start all over again.
From the beginning of the process you need to know what to expect when house training a puppy. It is not possible for you, the owner, to supervise the puppy around the clock. And it is very difficult to complete the house training process until the dog is at least six months old. You must keep this in mind when house training so that you can be fully prepared. Just remember that puppies younger than six months do not have full control over their bowel and bladder actions. In order to be properly house trained they need to have good control over these bodily functions.
To help with the training process when you are not at home, you should place the puppy in a small room and cover the entire floor with newspaper. And make sure that you puppy-proof the room so that the puppy cannot injure itself.
At the beginning of the confinement training you will notice that the puppy will relieve itself anywhere it wants to. This is normal as they don't care about the cleanliness of their area much like little children don't care about it either. And the newspapers will keep the puppy occupied while you’re away too. Just let him have his way for the first few months of training. Your job at this point is to simply clean up the soiled papers and lay down new ones each day.
Advanced Paper Training
After a couple of months of being confined you will notice that the puppy will actually choose to relieve itself on the paper. Also around month two the puppy should now show signs of a preferred spot to do its business.
Once you notice that a preferred spot has been chosen you can start to diminish the area that is papered slowly. Perhaps every week you can make it about 10% smaller. Start removing papers that are the furthest from its preferred toilet. Keep this up until you have only a two-foot by two-foot square covered. If the puppy misses the papers you will need to slightly enlarge the area for a few weeks and then try to diminish the size again.
When the puppy is only doing its business on the papers that are left it is time for the next step of house training. The process of moving the papers to another place. Only move the papers gradually. I would not move the papers more than three inches per day. If the puppy is fixated on relieving itself on the papers it will always go to the papers. If it misses the papers you will need to move the papers back a few inches and wait a couple of days before trying to move the papers again.
Don't get discouraged during the paper-moving phase of the house training process. Eventually the puppy will get used to the papers being moved and will constantly relieve itself on the papers. When it understands this and is consistent with its commitment to relieve itself on the papers you will be able to place the papers anywhere in your house and the pup will find them.
House Training When You Are Home
When you are at home you will need to be on your toes when it comes to house training. As a general rule a pup usually can wait no longer that an hour for each month of age before it relieves itself. Also, every time the pup plays, eats, drinks, or just wakes up is a great time to take your pup outside to let it relieve itself. By the time the pup is about a year old it will only need to go for a walk about three or four times per day.
When you do take the pup outside to relieve itself it can take a while. So be ready to spend at least 30 minutes outside each time. Eventually, as you increase the delay between outings, your pup will take less time to relieve itself and soon it will begin to ask to go out when it needs to. At this point it is important to not delay in taking out the dog.
Throughout the process of house training you must give reinforcement, both positive and negative. Without some form of reinforcement the pup will not learn what good behavior is or what bad behavior is.
When the pup does what you want it to do you should praise it immediately. This immediate reinforcement should continue for the first few months of training. After that you can start to give positive reinforcement every third or fourth time that it does its good deed. It is important that as the dog gets older that it not receive positive reinforcement at every instance of a good deed. If you do this and then one day forget to reinforce the deed it will turn around and do something bad just to get the attention. And that is not what you want.
Negative reinforcement should be no more than the word "NO" or the phrase "BAD DOG." These two should be used every time that the dog does something bad. And that means anything. Using either of these with a loud, sharp voice should cause the dog to stop what it is doing immediately.
Unlike positive reinforcement negative reinforcement should be used every time the dog does something it is not supposed to do. The dog will eventually connect this negativity with being bad and will not see it as a form of attention.