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Housetraining your puppy

The best way to housetrain a puppy is through crate training. It teaches him appropriate elimination and keeps him safe when you are not there to supervise. You’ll need to start as soon as you bring the pup home, so you should already have a crate big enough for him to stand, turn around and lie stretched out. For large breeds, you’ll have to get a bigger one after a few months. Be sure to put a comfort pad in for him – unless he chews it.

The first step is to make the crate a positive thing for the puppy. With the door open, toss a tasty treat into the crate for him to get. Do this several times, praising him when he goes in. Don’t close the door until he’s completely comfortable going in and out.

Then, when he goes in to get the treat, close the door, praise him quietly, then let him out after about 10-20 seconds. Don’t make a big deal when you let him out. Very gradually increase the length of time he’s in the crate, over the course of a day, but be sure to keep it very positive. If he cries, go back to a shorter time. It’s a good idea to say ‘crate’ or ‘kennel’ when he goes in so you can use that as a command later.

Once he’s going in happily, you can leave the room for a few minutes. Make sure to always give him a treat in the crate. Don’t let him out when he’s crying and don’t make a fuss when you let him out. When you start leaving him more than a few minutes, give him a special bone or a Kong stuffed with peanut butter – something he’ll only get in his crate. In a few days, he should be fine for an hour or two. Puppies sleep a lot so he’ll sleep most of the time when you’re gone.

Remember, the crate is a tool to be used wisely and humanely. Most puppies can go through the night at 8-10 weeks of age, but should not be crated for more than 4 hours at a time during the day. Puppies should be supervised when they’re not in the crate.
Be sure to take your puppy outside to eliminate every time you let him out of the crate and after eating or playing. For the 1st few months, you’ll have to carry him so he doesn’t have an accident on the way to the door. It’s best to take him to the same spot in your yard every time, praise him as he’s going and also decide on a word you’ll say as he pees or poops. Later you can use that to tell him to go.

If your puppy has an accident in the house, do not scold him. Think of it as your fault for not taking him outside soon enough, and take him out right away. Try to establish a routine so he knows when he’ll get to go outside. Be sure to take him for regular walks, play with him and provide appropriate chew toys.

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