Health Topics

Puppy House Training

Puppies need constant supervision to learn what behaviours are acceptable and what behaviours are "off limits" in their new home. You will need to teach your puppy where to "go potty", what to chew, what NOT to chew, what to chase, what NOT to chase, where to sleep, where NOT to sleep etc. If you give your puppy too many options he is bound to fail. Instead, limit his options and set him up to succeed.

Practice makes perfect! Do not allow your puppy to practice undesirable behaviours such as peeing on the carpet, chasing the cat, chewing shoes, etc. Every time your puppy engages in one of these activities repeatedly, he is practicing and therefore getting better at chasing the cat, the kids and peeing on the carpet! Focus on rewarding good behaviours and interrupting rude behaviours.

Whenever there isn't an adult available to supervise your puppy, put him in his crate/ exercise pen/ or on a tether (or safe area outside such as a kennel run). You can also use baby gates to set up a puppy-proof area in your home.

When your puppy is out of his crate, have him drag a house line. (Lightweight piece of pre-treated rope, from 5-8 feet long. Try a commercially available bitter spray or Tabasco sauce and allow it to dry before using.) You will use this to help catch your puppy if he engages in inappropriate behaviours. You will then interrupt the rude behaviour and direct him to more appropriate puppy fun. It is much easier to catch the little monkeys when they are dragging a house line! With you watching him like a hawk, you will be able to help puppy if he gets the rope entangled and keep him safe.

Puppy proof your home. Put anything that might attract your puppy such as shoes, paper, toilet paper, kids toys, out of reach. This may mean simply closing the bedroom doors, bathroom door and putting shoes in the closets. This will be a daily effort by everyone in the family. Remember, practice makes perfect...if your puppy practices chewing off-limit items, he will get better and better at chewing your stuff. Don't give your puppy too much freedom. Over the next few months he will demonstrate that he knows what objects are legal to chew on and where he is expected to "go potty". When he is no longer choosing wrong so much, gradually give him a little more freedom in the house. If he relapses, tighten up the reins again for a period of time.

Commercial bitter sprays such as Bitter Apple, Bitter Lime and Phooey can be used to help discourage your puppy from chewing furniture, walls, etc. You will have to re-apply regularly but it sure does help with most puppies. Some puppies will enjoy the flavor of these sprays, which are designed to taste bad. If your puppy likes the taste, try another flavor. If he likes them all, it isn't going to help so give it to a friend at puppy school, it is worth the try!

Be sure you have "smart" puppy toys for puppy to play with.

A Kong is essential as it is safe, fun and re-usable. Try peanut butter, cheese whiz, canned dog food, kibble and pieces of biscuits inside. As your puppy gets better at getting the goodies out of the Kong, try putting it in the freezer first. This should keep your puppy busy a little longer.

Buster Cubes and other food dispensing toys are great. You can put your puppy's breakfast and/ or supper in the ball and let him work for dinner...after all, most of us work for our dinners, why not puppy?! This will keep him busy a little longer and burn some energy as well.

Nylabones are safe and most dogs love them. They come in a variety of sizes and flavors. Hint: drill a few holes in the shaft of the nylabone and stuff in some cheese or hotdog to make it more enticing.

Potty training is easy but it requires effort and diligence. Your goal will be to have your puppy outside every time he has to go potty, and to reward him on the spot for "going potty" outside. DO NOT PUNISH YOUR PUPPY FOR ACCIDENTS. If your puppy goes potty in the house it is not his fault. His is a baby. You would not scold an infant for piddling in his diaper would you? You must go out with your puppy so you can give the reward on the spot. Teach Puppy how wonderful it is for him to "go potty" outside.

Get your puppy on a predictable schedule. Here is a sample of a good schedule for puppy training.

  • Puppy slept in crate all night.
  • 1st potty break is immediately when you get up. Reward for potty times outside when puppy complies.
  • Breakfast time. Puppy gets 10 minutes to eat a measured amount. Whatever is left goes back in the bag.
  • 2nd potty break/ exercise/ play/ train. Go outside with your pup, reward any potty times. Go for a walk.
  • If you are certain puppy will not have an accident, now puppy can come in the house. Have him wear the house line and supervise him. If you can't, put him in his crate/ pen/ behind baby gate.
  • 3rd potty break. Back outside and reward for potty time.
  • Nap time in the crate. Give Kong and leave puppy for his nap.
  • 4th potty break (lunch time)
  • Lunch - remove food after 10 minutes
  • 5th potty break/ exercise/ play/ walks
  • Supervised time in house on house line. This time should be used for cuddling, training, and playing.
  • 6th potty break
  • Nap time
  • 7th potty break
  • Dinner time - remove food after 10 minutes.
  • 8th potty break/ exercise/ play outside/ walk
  • Supervised time in house with house line. This is time to play, cuddle and train.
  • 9th potty break
  • More supervised time in house.
  • 10th potty break
  • More supervised time in house or quiet time in crate.
  • 11th potty break
  • Bed time

During the supervised play times in the house, you will likely have to insert more potty breaks at first. As puppy gets older you can spread these potty breaks out and gradually give more freedom.