We are having a terrible time housebreaking our six month old puppy. We love her dearly but are frustrated because we can’t stop her from urinating in the house -- on the rugs, porch and breezeway. She goes to the bathroom when she’s outdoors playing, but she still has accidents in the house. We’ve tried rubbing her nose in it, but that doesn’t help. I should mention that she is spayed.
Housebreaking is an important first lesson for a puppy. But it sounds like your pup has not been fully housebroken. First, I would recommend that you take a urine sample to your veterinarian to make sure that she does not have a physical reason for not being housetrained. A urinary tract infection, among other conditions, can certainly be a major factor in housetraining problems, even in puppies. If the urinalysis shows no abnormalities, here are a few suggestions:
- Do not allow her to play or socialize when she first goes out; she can play after she eliminates.
- Take her for a walk within 15 to 30 minutes of her eating. Make them long walks, even beyond the yard, so she will urinate repeatedly and empty her bladder. Walks between feedings also help.
- Always go out with your puppy so that you can immediately praise her and give a small treat for eliminating. Praise her as soon as she squats. This positive reinforcement is important. Also, by going out with her, you will know whether she has eliminated or not, so that you can be vigilant with her in the house.
- When she is indoors, you need to control her and keep her close to you. Tie a cord or some small "leash" to her collar and take her wherever you go and tie her to something while you’re in the room. Avoid large cords that could catch on things if she gets loose.
- When she is home alone, or you cannot be directly supervising her, confine her in a cage, crate or small room. Instinct will tell her not to soil the area where she is lying.
You’ll want to continue these practices until you feel she is completely trained. Also, do not rub her nose in her accidents. If you catch her in the act of urinating, startle her (i.e. clap your hands) then calmly take her outside and praise her for eliminating outside. Punishment, especially after the fact, can make your puppy fearful of you. Also, puppies who have been punished by owners often will not eliminate on leash because they associate the owner’s presence with unpleasant consequences.
Housebreaking most puppies is not this difficult. Begin training the day the puppy arrives home. Exercise the pup frequently -- as often as every 2-3 hours -- in one selected area outdoors. Exercise her as soon as she wakes up from sleep or a rest, immediately after meals, before bedtime and a few times in between. Always use the same door. Eliminating and urinating will be coincidental at first and then become habit. This routine usually trains a dog in 7-10 days.