When a new dog—especially a new puppy—takes up residence in your home, one of the most challenging tasks ahead is house training. However, with a little forethought and planning, you’ll find that most dogs quickly learn the basics.

House Training Your New Puppy

A puppy doesn’t develop full control over his bodily functions until approximately three months of age. However, you don’t have to wait until he’s three months old to start a training schedule.

As soon as your puppy has been weaned, take him out of the house several times a day to let him relieve himself in the proper area. Taking your puppy out regularly after he’s eaten will get him on a regular elimination schedule and help you minimize accidents.

Paper Training

Working adults can’t afford to be home with a puppy for weeks at a time while he’s learning to be house trained. If your dog is going to be left home alone for long periods, he’ll need a place to urinate while you’re out.

One option is to allocate a particular spot in your home for this purpose. Place a small pile of old newspapers in a corner of the room. Keep it well away from where the dog eats and sleeps, or he may not understand what it’s for. Dogs rarely urinate or defecate in areas close to where they eat or sleep.

Next, encourage the dog to urinate on the paper. After the dog has urinated, remove the top layer of paper and replace it with fresh newspaper. In this way, the dog will get into the habit of using that particular spot, leaving the rest of your home free from dog messes.

Although paper training can work quite well with small breeds, it’s not recommended for larger breeds because of the volume of waste involved. Paper training is also not recommended if small children live in the home because of the potential health risks of contamination from bacteria and parasites in urine or feces.

Crate Training

Another approach to housebreaking is to keep your dog in a crate or kennel. In theory, the dog will treat the crate as his personal space and be less likely to have accidents in his own environment. By going outdoors to relieve himself, the dog will learn the routine and quickly become house trained.

However, crate training has disadvantages and should be considered carefully. Because dogs are naturally sociable creatures, leaving them in a confined space for long periods can trigger behavioral problems.

Dogs that are crate trained are more likely to become noisy, bad-tempered and destructive if left in the crate for too long. The dog must be released and exercised at regular intervals.

Like other aspects of dog training, patience and an understanding of your dog’s needs and capabilities are the best way of ensuring successful house training and your dog’s joyful integration into your family unit.