Posts Tagged ‘behavioral’

Dr. Karen Overall, MA, VMD, has written a series on proper puppy housetraining techniques.  Presented here are snippets from her comprehensive guide.

 Tips from the expert:

  • Take your puppy outside to its designated potty spot every one to two hours.¹
  • Let the puppy sniff and explore its environment.
  • Keep the pup on a short leash so it stays on task.
  • Reward the pup with praise, and perhaps a treat, when it relieves itself in the proper spot.
  • Immediately respond to your puppy’s cues that it has to “go.”  Forcing the puppy to wait could cause leaks, accidents, and regression in training.  Watch for whining, circling, and sudden interruption in play as signs² that the pup is ready to relieve itself. 

¹Also take the puppy out for bathroom breaks between 15 and 45 minutes after each meal or heavy treat.  Other bathroom break times should include after playtime and sleeptime, even if that means taking him out in the middle of the night.

²If these signs are ignored by the owner, the pup will learn to simply eliminate in the house, which some owners assume is willful and “bad” behavior.  In fact, this is behavior the owner has unwittingly trained into the pup.  As mentioned previously, punishment has no place in housetraining.

Est. 1973

This article was originally posted on November 22, 2011.

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Are you expecting to get a new puppy for the holidays? Next to properly socializing your pup with other dogs and people, the most important thing you’ll do for your pet is housetraining it.

circus dogs vintage image graphicsfairy008b

Before you get started, consider the following:

  • Eight is the magic number: puppies should begin housetraining at 8 weeks of age.
  • Most puppies are unable to control elimination before they’re 8 weeks old. Their brains need time to develop the proper wiring and muscular control necessary to make housetraining a success.
  • At 8.5 weeks, puppies can mentally connect the potty location with the act of urinating or defecating, so this is the time to choose a location, be it lawn or pavement.
  • Since puppies develop a preference for their potty spot, teaching it first to go on newspaper may make it more difficult to get the puppy to go potty outdoors later.
  • Choose a location in the yard that will not be used for gardening, composting, or playing. This is especially important if the pup is still carrying worms or if its status has not been checked. 
  • You’ll need to clean up fecal matter immediately after the pup goes, to protect your family from puppy worms.


Housetraining a pet takes time; accidents will happen. Patience and persistence are key elements of training.

Don’t punish! Punishing a puppy that has an accident in the house will cause it to associate punishment with the act of elimination. This means it will be fearful to “do its business” whether indoors or out. Skip the punishment and instead focus on positive reinforcement.

Leaks happen, especially when the pup has been “holding it” for a long time. Don’t punish for leaks, since the pup has no control over this.  Pick the pup up and calmly bring it to its potty spot. Remember to praise it afterwards for a job well-done.

And did you know…

Puppies produce a lot of urine in a short amount of time, and they have small bladders – so they can’t hold urine for very long. A Yorkie’s bladder may be the size of a large grape! At this young age, pups should be taken out every one or two hours to eliminate.

Sniffing is part of the process, so let your pup sniff and explore its environment.

Coming up next:  Housetraining Your Puppy – Part 2
Resource:  “Canine Housetraining,” by Karen Overall MA, VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACVB, CAAB, in DVM Newsmagazine, November 2011 edition.

This article was originally posted on Nov. 21, 2011.

Image found at The Graphics Fairy.


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