Anyone who has adopted a puppy knows that housebreaking is one of the most time consuming challenges new owners face. It can be difficult to know, first, where to start, and then, which methods will be most effective. There are plenty of “systems” out there that claim you can train your puppy in less than a week, less than five days, less than an hour. Experienced dog trainers will tell you, however, that really teaching your dog where it is alright to go to the bathroom, where they can sleep, and what they can chew on is an exercise in repetition and consistency—and cannot be done with some trick or ploy.
While dogs do have the innate instinct to not go to the bathroom where they eat, so to say, that does not mean that they will understand that the entire house is off limits as a potty spot. Dogs know not to go in their homes, which is why puppies will rarely, if ever, mess in their kennel. This view of “home” does not necessarily extend to the rest of the house, especially if they are an inside dog. In this scenario, the entire house is their world, and some part of it will have to be the bathroom.
The best way to potty train your puppy is to make sure he gets to his bathroom area as often as possible. When he finds a place outside of your house to go to the toilet, it will instill in him an idea that this is the appropriate place to go. When he does go in this spot, make sure to reward him, this will reinforce the idea in his mind that when he goes to the bathroom outside, he’s doing something that pleases you. Most experts these days recommended not punishing a puppy for soiling in the house, as that puppy will probably not make the connection between the mess he’s made and why he is being yelled at. Learn more about how to potty train your puppy.
Chewing on Furniture
Chewing behaviors in growing dogs are usually connected to teething, and because of this, are usually brushed off. However, if not kept in check, your puppy with a few chewing misdemeanors may grow into a dog who can tear apart a sofa in a matter of minutes. Providing your puppy with teething toys, preventing any bad habits from forming, is the best way to make sure he knows that certain things are acceptable and are alright to chew on, while others are not. This is a right way and a wrong way to redirect the chewing. Also, providing a consequence for chewing on things that should not be will speed the process up and will make it more clear to the puppy.
Some dogs are just nervous chewers. When they are left alone for too often and for too long, they develop separation anxiety, which can lead them to chewing on shoes, furniture, clothes, all the way up to destroying doors and walls. Like potty training, rewarding good behavior is essential. And ensuring that you have enough time to spend with your new puppy, is also very important. Checking inappropriate behaviors as they’re happening is much more effective than trying to correct him after they’ve already happened. Saying “no” when you catch him chewing on a chair leg will create the connection in his mind that this is not an acceptable behavior. Again, like potty training, trying to punish him after the fact will not create the proper connection in his mind.
Dogs will not understand why they are not allowed to sit on the couch, even though you are. They will also not understand why they can’t jump on your legs, into your bed, or onto the counter. And while some pet owners are alright with these behaviors, many aren’t. To teach your dog not to jump on anything, you need only acknowledge him when he is on the floor. If you walk in the door and he jumps on your legs, do not greet him until he has all four feet on the floor. If you turn around and his feet are up on the counter, make sure to discipline him. And be consistent. It cannot be cute sometimes and annoying other times. Your new puppy needs to understand that the behavior is always unacceptable, otherwise he will keep doing it.
Many puppies like to jump on your couches and beds because they are comfortable—the same reasons we humans love them. If this looks like it is true for you little puppy, get him a nice, comfortable dog bed and make sure he knows that it’s just for him.
Going through the Garbage
It can be very dangerous for puppies to get into the trash. Things that may seem harmless to dogs, like chicken bones, can actually splinter and harm your dog’s throat and stomach if consumed. In addition to all of the harmless things, like the leftover meat or bacon grease—which are probably enticing your puppy to the trash—there might be chocolate, medications, batteries, etc. which could seriously harm the little guy if he gets into them.
The best way to keep him out of the trash for his entire life is to never give him the chance to get into it at all. Moving a trashcan under your sink, into a cupboard, or inside a pantry with a door may be enough to ensure this behavior doesn’t even start. Also, he is less likely to ransack your kitchen looking for food is he is properly fed. Like humans, puppies do better on several small meals a day. Plus, making sure he has plenty of other things to do—toys to play with, your children to chase around the house—he’s probably not going to give a second thought to the bits of steak just waiting for him in that trashcan.
Puppies are a great addition to any home. They teach children responsibility, they love you unconditionally, and can be easily trained if you are just willing to put in the time and effort. Dogs want nothing more than to please their masters, and will do so whenever given the chance. The best way to train a dog to do anything is make sure to let him know when you a behavior makes you happy, and when one does not. Housebreaking your puppy does not have to be difficult, it can be easy and fun for the both of you if you just follow these guidelines.