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You're crazy about your absolutely perfect new puppy -- that is, until he pees on your new rug. Don't despair -- with just a little practice, your buddy can learn to take his business outside. Gallivan Burwell, a New Orleans-based dog trainer and behavioral consultant, offers these tried-and-true tips for potty training a puppy.
Keep Your Puppy Contained
Housetraining can be messy. Limit the amount of space you’ll have to clean by keeping your pup in a small room with easy-to-mop floors. Help regulate bathroom times by putting him on a feeding schedule and removing his water two hours before bedtime. (Only dogs with empty bladders should be allowed to wander around the house.)
Take Your Puppy Out Regularly
Now, watch your dog -- and the clock. Pups under three months should go out about 15 minutes after eating and napping, but when in doubt, take him out. Notice his behavior before he relieves himself. Does he have a favorite potty spot in the house? When he heads there, pick him up, go to the door and say, "Let's go outside to do that." Burwell's hint: The number of hours a trained puppy/dog can go between bathroom breaks equals the number of months in his age (up to 12 months).
Make Sure He’s Finished
Once your puppy's outdoors, don’t take your eyes off him. You could miss the grand performance or, worse yet, incorrectly assume he's done his business and take him in with a full bladder or bowel.
Heap on the Praise
As soon as he’s done his business, praise him and offer a morsel of something tasty like a small liver treat. Is the treat necessary? Absolutely! Dogs love food more than praise, so use it to let them know you've caught them doing something right.
And what if your pup messes indoors? Never -- ever -- yell, smack him or rub his nose in it. This is totally confusing to your pet and actually teaches him to be afraid to go to the bathroom around you. Instead, pick up your pup, even if he's in the act of going, and say, "Let's go outside to do that." Once he relieves himself in the yard, give him a treat and a word of praise.
Remember, you'll need lots of patience to train your puppy, but once he goes three weeks without an accident, celebrate -- he's considered trained.
Karen B. Gibbs is a writer and editor based in Lacombe, La.