Housetraining: What to do if Your Puppy Has an “Accident”
Part of Our Summer 2023 Puppy Primer
Housetraining your puppy can be a full-time job. With diligence, you can have success. There are basically three scenarios for elimination:
1. You see your puppy eliminating in the right spot.
Congrats! Wait for your puppy to completely finish (you don’t want to interrupt him), then praise him like crazy. Immediately give him a treat. In order to pair the treat with elimination, it has to be given right at the spot, immediately. If, for example, you bring him inside and then give him a treat, you’ve just rewarded him for coming inside.
Chance of housetraining success: Excellent
2.You see your puppy eliminating in the wrong spot.
Yikes! Interrupt him with a “No!” or “Eh Eh!” and rush him outside to the proper spot. If he finishes outside, he gets praise and a treat. Don’t reprimand him again when you come back inside—it won’t help. And never use your hands to punish your puppy. This will not housetrain him, but it will teach him to avoid your hands.
Chance of housetraining success: Excellent, especially when paired with #1.
3. You walk into a room and see pee or poop, but did not see your puppy eliminate.
Oops! That one’s on you. You cannot let your puppy out of your sight until he is fully trained. Rewards and reprimands must be given immediately in order for your puppy to associate them with an action. If you do not witness your puppy eliminating, you’re already too late. Clean up the mess and watch your puppy more closely. Confine him (such as in a crate) when you can’t supervise him properly.
Chance of housetraining success: Poor. This puppy has too much freedom, too soon. He needs closer supervision to help him understand where to eliminate.
❛❛If you only want your puppy to eliminate on grass, don’t also have pee pads in the house. This is a confusing, mixed message.❜❜
Keep Your Hands to Yourself
Have you ever heard that in order to show your puppy you’re the “alpha,” you should pet him while he eats? Or stick your fingers in his food while he eats? Or randomly take his food away and then give it back to him, to prove you’re in charge? Baloney. Doing these things can actually cause and increase aggression. When your dog is eating, keep your hands to yourself and let him eat in peace.