7 Tips for How to Housetraining Your Dogs
You can start your puppy off on the right paw by teaching good manners from the moment you bring him home. Every interaction that you have with your puppy is a learning opportunity, and with gentle guidance, you can help him understand important lessons like how to greet new friends without jumping up, how to wait quietly for dinner, and what to do with those puppy teeth.
Interacting with your dog in a way that seamlessly weaves manners into his everyday life sets the stage for future training. Plus, it’s easier to add positive behaviors to your puppy’s repertoire than it is to “un-train” negative ones.
1. Choose your dog's name wisely and be respectful of it.
Of course, you'll want to pick a name for your new puppy or dog that you love, but for training, it also helps to consider a short name ending with a strong consonant. This allows you to say his name so that he can always hear it. A strong ending (i.e., Jasper, Jack, Ginger) perks up puppy ears—especially when you place a strong emphasize at the end.
New name or old, as much as possible, associate it with pleasant, fun things, rather than negative. The goal is for him to think of his name the same way he thinks of other great stuff in his life, like "walk," "cookie," or "dinner!"
2. Choose the right training item
A dog collar or dog harness: choose a collar or harness that doesn’t pinch or tighten. Your dog should feel comfortable in his collar.
A fixed-length dog leash: opt for a leash that’s between four and six feet; anything shorter might not give your dog enough space to find the right potty spot, and anything longer might be difficult to manage.
Dog treats: use something moist and meaty that your dog loves.
A dog clicker: a training tool that makes the process seem like a game.
A crate: this is your dog’s second home when you can’t watch him and will be used for potty training.
3. Have a regular life
Keep the puppy on a regular feeding schedule and take away his food between meals. Take puppy out to eliminate first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. Also, always take him outside after meals or when he wakes from a nap. Make sure he goes out the last thing at night and before he’s left alone.
4. Decide on the "house rules."
Before he comes home, decide what he can and can't do. Is he allowed on the bed or the furniture? Are parts of the house off-limits? Will he have his chair at your dining table? If the rules are settled early, you can avoid confusion for both of you.
5. Reward his good behavior
Reward your puppy or dog's good behavior with positive reinforcement. Use treats, toys, love, or heaps of praise. Let him know when's he's getting it right. Likewise, never reward bad behavior; it'll only confuse him.
6. Punishing your puppy for having an accident is a definite no-no.
It teaches your puppy to fear you. If you catch your puppy in the act, clap loudly, so he knows he’s done something unacceptable. Then take him outside by calling him or taking him gently by the collar. When he’s finished, praise him or give him a small treat. If you found the evidence but didn’t see the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing his nose in it. Puppies aren’t intellectually capable of connecting your anger with their accident.
7. Discourage him from biting or nipping
Instead of scolding him, a great way to put off your mouthy canine is to pretend that you're in great pain when he's biting or nipping you. He'll be so surprised he's likely to stop immediately. If this doesn't work, try trading a chew toy for your hand or pant leg. The swap trick also works when he's into your favorite shoes. He'll prefer a toy or bone anyway. If all else fails, break up the biting behavior, and then just ignore him.